July 7, 2013
We had great services today here in Cambodia. Five of the teen girls sang “Blessed Assurance” during the morning service. Please continue to pray for the young people in our ministries. It is always frustrating to have a teen young person who is a growing believer all of a sudden be forced to stop coming to church by their parents. Today we had one of our very faithful teen boys come and tell us that he has to miss church for the next two months as his parents are forcing him to work in their store. Another teen young man told me today that he is actually attending church without his parents knowledge because if they knew he was a Christian and attending church they would force him to stop coming. He met with me this morning to seek counsel about what to do when his mother tries to force him, as she did this morning, to offer incense to the deceased relatives. This month the workers will be starting two special clubs for teen young people to help them in their walk with the Lord. Please pray that these clubs will help to ground the young people in their new faith and that their parents will not prevent them from being involved.
Last Sunday I completed our 14 week sermon series dealing with the transformed life. This morning we began a new 8 week sermon series preaching through the book of 2 Peter. I believe that this series will be very helpful to the people as we deal with the important issues addressed in this epistle. The church family in Phnom Penh, as well as the village churches, continues to memorize the entire book of 2 Peter. It is encouraging to see so many getting involved. We are, on purpose, trying to create a culture in the church that values the Word of God.
Some people in America may be under the misconception that the poor are automatically open to the message of the gospel. Very often the opposite is true. They are often ready to receive a “social” gospel that will hand out money, food and medicine. But the true message of the gospel that shows mankind his sinful and helpless condition without Christ has never been popular with the masses. In recent days we have seen the poor outright reject the message of salvation. This past Saturday some of our soul-winners went to follow-up on prospects living along the open sewers just a few blocks from our Phnom Penh church. It was very sad to have some refuse to accept a gospel tract. One man, who we have been witnessing to for several months, actually laughed at one of our men who was trying to encourage him to accept Christ. Another poor man, who is dying of cancer, mocked Brother Sinath for walking around with the foreigners and witnessing about the “foreigner” religion. He said that if Sinath was going to do that he should at least be getting a salary for wasting his time. It was encouraging to see Sinath and others keep a good attitude and a soft heart toward those who mocked them.
It has also been encouraging to see the spiritual growth of so many of the adults. Some of them are having their faith tested as never before. In recent days several of the folks have come face-to-face with circumstances that have been somewhat troubling to them such as being openly mocked for being a true Christian. One young couple is being accused by their family of “killing their grandmother” because they refuse to offer sacrifices in order to appease the evil spirits who their lost loved ones believe are causing grandma to be gravely ill. Some of our other believers who have undergone major persecution for their faith were deeply troubled in recent days to witness other Christians who, knowingly or ignorantly, compromised their testimony under the guise of trying to be culturally appropriate. One circumstance in particular has, according to the nationals, caused them to value even more a church where they are taught to follow the Word of God even when it is not culturally accepted by the Buddhists living all around them.
The work in Prey Bang village continues to go forward. The roof was finally installed a couple of weeks ago. Lord willing, we will being holding services the first Sunday in August. For the time being we will do so without any walls. In time, we intend to build walls as the work grows and the nationals are able to raise the money. There are around 20 adults in this village who have now professed faith in Christ. Additionally, we have around 20 children who are attending a weekly Children’s outreach. We are happy to report that this past week another lady, Soun (over 70 years old), accepted Christ as her personal Saviour. Please pray that we will continue to see more families reached through this new work. It will require a lot of time and effort by many to see this new work get off the ground and we certainly covet your prayers.
Many of the hundreds of children who are part of our Children’s Ministries each week come from very difficult living circumstances. Some of the children are told on a regular basis that they are unwanted, not loved, and a burden on their parents. Even children who come from “decent” homes very often lack any public display of affection by the adults in their lives. Telling your family that you love them is a very rare thing in this culture. It was sad – last Sunday morning I asked for a show of hands of all those who had hugged their parents and told them that they loved them at least once over the past week. Three hands went up – they were the hands of my own children. Not a one of the national children raised their hands ! I snapped a picture of the back of this young girl’s shirt. It says, “Love Me.” I believe that this shirt pretty much summarizes the reason why so many of the children love to attend the church and the Children’s Ministry. They know that they are loved here at the church. Debbie told me that one young girl came and just stood by her… It finally dawned upon her what they girl was doing. She was waiting to get a hug. Apparently she gives this 4 year old girl a hug every Sunday. I wonder if that is the only hug that she receives the entire week…
This week we are printing 5,000 copies of our new tract entitled “One Minute After You Die.” This tract is based on the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. Pray with us that God will use it to bring about conviction to many. Thank you for giving so that we can continue to print quality materials such as this and see people saved.
The election campaigning is in full swing this month as the country will hold national elections on Sunday, July 28th. Sights like this are a daily occurrence throughout the entire country. They begin early in the morning and continue until the evening. Last week we had campaign trucks and bull-horns campaigning down our street at around 9:30 p.m.
Civil unrest is always a concern during elections whenever you are in a country such as Cambodia. One local newspaper reported that the government has dispatched an additional 20,000 security forces to ensure that there are no uprisings. There is so much that could be said about the whole election situation but I shall leave my opinions to myself. Please pray that the elections will come and go without any difficulties.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason
June 9, 2013
Phnom Penh is a very crowded city. It is comprised of people who come from every Province and village in Cambodia. There are 897 villages within the city limits. (Country-wide there are more than 14,000 villages.) Current government statistics state that there are approximately 1.5 million people living here in the city. The metropolitan area of Phnom Penh is home to about 2.2 million people. Our primary outreach is directed toward the people who live here in the city, specifically the people who live in and around our locality. We believe that as strong churches are planted here in the city, the entire country can be reached with the Gospel. As we have stated in past posts, we are strategically reaching out from Phnom Penh to other areas that are within two hours of our church. We are presently reaching out to about 10 different villages. This is possible only as the folks here in Phnom Penh begin to have a burden for lost family members who still live back in their respective villages.
We recently began a new ministry called Highways & Hedges. The goal of this ministry is to distribute gospel tracts door-to-door in remote villages where there are not currently any type of gospel preaching churches. This last week was our “kick-off” for this ministry and we encouraged many folks to get involved. I had publicly stated that our goal was to have 40 folks involved on our first day. We were all very pleased last Saturday to have 61 folks show up eager to get involved in this new ministry. In three hours we were able to pass out nearly 2,500 tracts along National Highway 5. (In Phnom Penh 61 people could, no doubt, hand out 2,500 tracts in less than 30 minutes.) We do not do mass tract distribution in Phnom Penh. As a rule, that would not be a very effective means to present the gospel and see people saved here in a Buddhist culture. However, in remote areas where people are not accustomed to having strangers hand out literature we have been encouraged to see that they are willing to read the tracts. Our primary goal in the Highways & Hedges outreach is to, at a minimum, plant the seed of the gospel into the hands of people in these remote areas. Yesterday I was able to return to one of the villages that we had visited last week and begin teaching a group of about 6 people who have showed an interest in knowing God. Please pray for these teaching times in the village named Poom Grewa. I’m presently teaching and explaining the gospel to two grandmothers and 4-5 young people. Poom Grewa is about 2 miles past Prak Pnou village. Highways & Hedges will meet and go out one Saturday a month.
We were blessed to have 15 of the teens involved in Highways & Hedges. This year we are on purpose trying to do some things to help ground the teens in their faith. An important part of their spiritual growth includes being a public witness for the Lord. We were all encouraged to see their excitement and boldness as they went door-to-door. On our way back to Phnom Penh we enjoyed a time of fellowship. For several of these young people this was the first time they had ever eaten pizza. Teens are the same everywhere – they love pizza !
It is important to evaluate each ministry in the church. Ministries that are not producing lasting fruit should be changed or eliminated. This month we are evaluating every ministry of the church. Some programs will be eliminated. Others will be given more attention and effort. One of the areas that we are hoping to strengthen is the outreach to our faithful teens. (The focus will not be on the casual attender but rather on the teen who is already faithfully attending church.) With the Lord’s help, we hope to do some things with the teens that will help encourage a higher level of commitment to the Lord as well as a higher level of involvement in ministry. Please pray for the teens of Pacific Baptist Church of Phnom Penh to be excited to embrace the vision and be willing to step out of their comfort zone for the Lord and the good of the church.
We had great services today in Phnom Penh. I continued with the series dealing with the transformed life from Romans chapter 12. Today we considered verse 13, “Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.” Next week we will actually deal with how a believer is to go about helping another believer in times of need. But this morning we explored some of the causes of poverty. There are many factors that contribute to poverty. Some poverty is the result of outside influences such as war, corruption, and natural disasters. However, this morning we focused on poverty that can come as a result of one’s personal sin or sins committed within their family. I devoted some time to each of the following sins and how, according to God’s Word, they contribute to poverty: 1) Laziness, 2) Gambling or the desire to get rich quick, 3) Stinginess and Covetousness, 4) Immorality, 5) Alcohol and Gluttony, 6) Deriving one’s income in an immoral way, 7) Not being faithful to the Lord by the paying of tithes and giving of offerings, and 8) Turning a blind eye to others in their time of need. It was actually a a bit difficult to preach this message. Many people in this country have been conditioned to be a “receiver” rather than a “giver.” It is a mindset that is not a Biblical one. It may have been shocking for some to hear this morning that not all the poverty in Cambodia is as a result of war in the past or present day corruption by some who are in power. I’m thankful to have the privilege to preach to and teach new believers who, although a truth may be hard to receive, are willing to listen to truth being taught and act upon that truth.
This morning we all enjoyed a time of fellowship after the services. It was a great opportunity to spend time getting to know some folks with whom we don’t normally have time to fellowship. We thank the Lord for the building that He has provided that will facilitate such fellowships.
This morning we had 24 folks follow the Lord in believer’s baptism. We were all very encouraged to see them take this public stand for the Lord. There is much confusion in this country regarding baptism. It has been our experience that the vast majority of “churches” here in Cambodia believe in baptismal regeneration. For some groups baptism provides a perfect opportunity to win the affection and financial assistance of visiting foreigners. Today one of our teen girls told me that this was the second time she had been baptized. She said that before she was saved a “church” hired a man to go to her village and recruit a bunch of children to go to the church and get baptized. She said that was his full-time job – going from village to village and gathering many people to come to the city and get baptized. No doubt the pictures and reports were sent abroad for the benefit of well-meaning donors. Sad to say, that is not an isolated incident.
Grandma Sooan was baptized this morning. Please continue to pray for her husband, Chang, to be saved. Sooan is a growing believer and was very excited to be able to publicly follow the Lord in believer’s baptism.
Mr. Somvoeuth also followed the Lord in believer’s baptism. He, like Brother Sinath on the left hand side of this photo, is a tailor. His business is located on a very busy street in Prak Pnou village. As a small business person he is concerned with how he is perceived by the community; if they think that he has “betrayed” the national religion of Buddhism he is fearful that they will stop coming to his business. This fear caused him to keep his Buddhist altars in his home and business even though he professed to place his faith in Christ and stopped offering sacrifices to the ancestors and the devil. Thankfully two weeks ago he took the step of faith and destroyed the altars. Please pray for Samvoeuth to continue to grow in the Lord.
We are still patiently waiting for the roof to be completed on the Prey Bang village church. I give the contractor credit for coming up with some pretty creative excuses this week. Hopefully the roof will be completed by the end of this week.
Soly and her husband, Tola, live about three houses from the church in Prey Bang village. We are happy to report that Soly accepted Christ as her Saviour two weeks ago and Tola accepted Christ this past week. Tola comes from a family that is deeply involved in the occult. For many years he has had an “angel” that appears to him and “helps” his family. We know that this angel is nothing more than a familiar spirit (an evil spirit that has been passed down within the family from generation to generation). The reason that he would not accept Christ at the same time as his wife is that he thought it was impossible for God to save him. The believers in the village give testimony that on Saturday night Tola and Soly destroyed all of their altars and occultic items in their home. This morning at church Soly confirmed that they both want to be fully committed followers of Christ. Soly requested that the spirit strings be cut off of her and her children, and so this morning after the service we did just that.
Spirit strings are used by witchdoctors for various reasons. Ultimately it is believed that they provide protection from the evil spirits. The news will spread quickly in the village that this family has taken a stand for the Lord. Already some of the neighbors have responded to the destroying of their altars by cutting up a Bible and strewing it all along the road that leads to the new church building in the picture above. Tola and Soly as well as some other folks there in the village are just new believers and they are not sure how to respond to the actions of these neighbors. This morning Brother Sinath and I were able to spend some time teaching them how we are to respond when non-believers persecute us because of our faith in Jesus Christ. Please pray for Tola and Soly’s safety as well as their spiritual growth.
Please pray for Oeun and her adult daughter, Oal and their family. They live in Prey Bang village and have both professed faith in Christ within the past three months. It was a blessing last week to be able to teach them both. They are likely some of the poorest believers that we know. For the past 10 years they, and many other families, have been squatters on land that is owned by the local Buddhist association. This past week one of the monks came to her home (the shack behind them) and asked Oeun the following question: “I heard that you are now a Christian. Is that true?” Oeun responded that she had indeed trusted the Lord for salvation and is now a follower of Jesus Christ. She was then told by the monk that she and her family would soon be evicted off of the land because of her decision to follow Christ. This leaves this very poor family is a tight situation. If they remain resolved to follow Christ they will literally become homeless with, humanly speaking, no other options on the table. Oeun has stated that under no circumstances will she turn away from the Lord. Please pray for these dear folks as well as for all of us to have wisdom to know how best to help her.
You may recall my writing about Brother Maldy and his family last year. They are the family who faithfully rode their bikes 26 miles round-trip to church several times a week. Several months ago they had some issues arise that prohibited them from coming to church. We were all so thrilled this morning when they showed up at church. Maldy told me that issue is now resolved and they will once again be faithfully involved in attending church. Pray for this family’s spiritual stability. They are very gracious and giving people even though they own almost no worldly possessions. Their example is a great challenge to us all !
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason
May 26, 2013
Sopheak, 18 years old, attended our church faithfully for quite some time last year until her grandmother prohibited her return. She did not like the “changes” that were taking place in Sopeak’s life because of the things she was being taught at the church. After being gone for nearly 6 months, she showed up again this past Sunday. It seems as though her grandmother has agreed to allow her to return. However, she is only allowed to attend on Sunday morning. We are happy to report that, while meeting with one of the national workers, she obtained the assurance of her salvation this past week. Lord willing she will follow the Lord in believers baptism on Sunday, June 9th. Please pray for her spiritual growth as well as the salvation of her grandmother.
Sok San is a close relative of Somaly Ros, the youth pastor’s wife at our sending church in California. When Mrs. Ros visited Cambodia several months ago she invited Sok San to attend the church. Due to the godly testimony of the Ros family Sok San has seen her need of salvation and has accepted Christ as her personal Saviour. She is making an effort to not just attend the services but to get involved as well. It was a blessing to see her stay after the morning service to help work in the 11:00 a.m. Children’s Ministry outreach. She was singing right along with the children and appeared to be having a great time. She is a sharp young lady and seems to have a lot of natural abilities. Please pray that she will keep coming to church, stay involved in ministry, and grow in her new faith.
About 20 or so of the men from Phnom Penh traveled to the village church in Anlong Tnout village last week to paint the new church building. We had a wonderful time working together and the building looks much better now that it has a few coats of paint on it. Point of interest: They do not seem to sell primer here in Cambodia so we were painting right on the bare cement walls. It took about 5 coats ! The village congregation will now begin working on raising money to purchase windows and doors for the building. Lord willing the money will be raised within the next few months and the building can be completed.
There has been a slight delay in getting the roof for the new church building in Prey Bang village. It seems that the contractor in the village did not have a welding machine in order to weld the metal together that he had promised to have welded almost two weeks ago ! When we finally got a hold of him this week to see what was taking so long, he let us know that he was trying to find the equipment and would have the roof up for us by the end of this week. Here’s my take on the situation – He knows we are Christians and “can’t” get mad at him. So, he is doing other people’s jobs ahead of ours even though we have a signed contract. If he doesn’t fulfill his end of the deal real soon I guess we will have an opportunity to put his theory to the test. 🙂 ...can’t or shouldn’t…?
One of the families who has recently begun to attend the village church is Chhay and KimLa. The Lord allowed me to lead Chhay to the Lord some time ago but his wife just recently accepted Christ within the past couple of months. They are expecting their first baby in a few months. Chhay is the son of a very popular Cham witchdoctor and has had some struggles in the past dealing with some issues related to that situation. (The Cham people are believed to possess the strongest occultic powers of any people group here in Cambodia. I have been told that his father, before dying this past year, was one of the most famous witchdoctors and had clients all over Cambodia.) I believe that Chhay and KimLa desire to have a family that honors the Lord. Last week they asked if I would be willing to sit down with them and teach them about how to have a Christian family. As other couples heard that we planned to meet they asked if they could participate in the meeting as well. To make a long story short, we decided that we will have a couple’s seminar sometime in June or July. This will enable us to offer teaching that we can’t provide during church-wide services. Please pray that Chhay and KimLa will remain consistent in their church attendance and walk with the Lord. They have been at church now for 5 weeks in a row.
For the past two months we have been trying something different for the Sunday Phnom Penh Children’s Ministry. Rather than having all 150-200 children meet at the church all at once we have been having them come in smaller groups of between 30-50 children. This past week Brother Vannak preached for the children’s service and he did a wonderful job of communicating to the children. He preached on the importance of not depending upon good works in order to have your sins forgiven. He used a poster that we recently created to use when we do evangelistic outreaches. I have included a low resolution copy of the poster for the benefit of those of you who read Khmer.
Here is the link to a short video that we shot on Monday morning. Included in this video are some short excerpts of our Sunday evening service in which we had 4 of the Bible Institute men preach. Each of these men are faithful believers who have taken a strong stand for the Lord. We are grateful for their teachable spirits and the zeal that they have for the work of the Lord. They all help to preach in our various Children’s Ministries and teen services throughout the week. They are also all 4 involved in the various village outreaches as well. I believe you will be blessed by listening to the short excerpts. They obviously preached in Khmer but I have added English subtitles for the benefit of those who can not understand the Khmer language. https://vimeo.com/67138581
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason
May 12, 2013
We had a great time this morning at church here in Phnom Penh. Some of the young men sang the song, “We Must Go.” It is a song that reminds us of the personal responsibility that we each bear to share the gospel message with those around us. I continued with the sermon series dealing with The Transformed Life. This morning the message dealt with the prayer life of the believer. The text was taken from Romans 12:12 “…continuing instant in prayer.”
This past week Veasna, 39 years old, accepted Christ as his personal Saviour. He lives in Prak Pnou village which is about 13 miles from the church. Beginning next week I will start meeting with him each Tuesday morning at 10:00 for personal discipleship. It was a blessing to see him here at church this morning. He has a Vietnamese friend named Oak who is interested in knowing more about what Christians believe. I’ve been able to meet with Oak twice now to discuss what it means to be a Christian. Pray with us that Veasna will be a good testimony in front of Oak and that he will also come to know the Lord very soon. Oak is 42 years old and is fluent in Khmer and Vietnamese. His wife is totally deaf due to an accident that took place during the war many years ago. She does not speak any official sign language and so we are a bit perplexed as to how to go about reaching her with the gospel. Hopefully Oak will be able to adequately communicate with her about the Lord when the time comes.
Last week there were two other professions of faith in Prak Pnou village. Please continue to pray about getting a church started in that village.
Each Tuesday and Saturday morning I meet with Grandma Sooan for about an hour and discuss the things of the Lord at her home in Prak Pnou. (I introduced Sooan to you in the update on 3-10-13.) Most of the time her husband, Grandpa Cheng, does not stay in the house to listen to what I am saying. He claims to be a staunch follower of Buddhism. Yet, he is very supportive of Sooan and her decision to follow Christ. He reminds her every Tuesday and Saturday morning to stay home and wait for me to arrive to teach her. Last week he told her that she needs to make sure that she follows everything that Jesus wants her to do because he does not want her to be a hypocrite. It was a blessing that this past Saturday he sat in the room and listened as Brother Sinath, Brother Sovann, and myself taught Sooan the Word of God. We are hoping that he is opening up to the gospel and will soon be saved. Please help us pray that God will use the things that he has heard and that he will respond to the light that he has been given.
For the past two or three months Oudom has been missing from church. He used to live next door to the church but last year his family moved about 45 minutes away. His phone number was changed and no one knew how to get in touch with him. Jeremy has been praying for some time now that he would return to church. It was a huge blessing to see him show up this morning having ridden his bike 45 minutes from his home out past Chba Umbo village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Please pray that Oudom will continue to come to church. Bundit and Oudom were friends before Oudom moved so far away. Bundit is very faithful to nearly every church service even though he has to ride his bike 30-40 minutes one way in order to get to church.
2 Timothy 2:2 “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” One of the major responsibilities that missionaries have is not just to win folks to Christ but to find faithful men and train them in the things of the Lord. About 7 weeks ago I hand-selected six of our men and asked them to be a part of a new accountability group that I wanted to start. One of the requirements to be a part of this group is that they had to have already become a “faithful man.” I could have chosen a number of other men who are equally faithful to the Lord, but because we wanted the group to be small I had to stop with these six men. Another requirement to becoming a part of the group was that each man had to be willing and able to take the things that he is learning and teach them to someone else during the week. We are very thankful for each of these men and their families. They have each taken a strong stand for the Lord. Some of them have endured serious persecution because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Five of these men have been saved over the past two years here at Pacific Baptist Church. I had the privilege to lead the sixth man to Christ approximately 7 years ago. I want you to know their names so that you can pray for them as they are seeking to live for the Lord. Starting from left to right their names are as follows: Sinath, Ra, Taiwan, Vannak, Kam, and Hem. Three of these men are Khmer and three are Cham. Three of these men are already preaching in various services each week and are doing a fantastic job. We thank God for each of these men and count if an honor to be able to be a part of their lives. We meet together each Saturday from 4:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. – or whenever we get done.
This past week Debbie had the joy of beginning Phanuth on piano lessons. He lives in Prak Pnou village and is a relatively new believer. He comes from a very musical family. In fact, his father was a four-time winner of a national singing contest here in Cambodia. Phanuth’s parents desire that he be trained to play the piano so that he can play for church. God has given him a natural talent for music and we expect that he will excel as he follows Debbie’s guidance. In addition to Phanuth, Debbie is currently teaching Jason, Srey Nik, and Bundit the piano. Lord willing we will have several new piano players in the future !
It is often very humbling to serve the Lord in a third-world country. The majority of the folks who are reached are from, at best, very modest means. One of the poorest ladies in our church brought us a big bag of these cucumbers a couple of days ago. Today she showed up with two more bags of vegetables. These mangoes came from a new Christian lady who is 70 years old. It is humbling for us to accept these gifts from people who barely have enough money to live from day to day. The lady who gave us the cucumbers did so out of gratitude for some Christian music that we were able to give her last week on mp3. The grandma who gave us the mangoes did so out of gratitude for us taking her the gospel so that she could be saved. She told me that she has lived her entire life trying to do good deeds in order to pay for her sins. She is so overjoyed to know that Jesus has already paid the price for her sin and that she has a home in Heaven. Thank you for doing your part in helping to pray for and invest in the people of Cambodia. You are making a difference !
This week we will, Lord willing, have the roof put onto the building in Prey Bang village. (Arrow # 3 on the map https://goodnewsfromafar.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/4-28-map.jpg ) At the beginning of next month we plan to take up a special offering in order to purchase the bricks to construct the walls. It is very important that the national believers each get involved in sacrificing for this project. Each brick costs 130 riels (about 3 cents). One hundred bricks will cost about $3.25. The vision has been cast for each man, woman, and child to do what they feel God would have them to do. I have encouraged each adult to ask God to allow them to purchase not less than 100 bricks. No doubt some will be able to purchase 1,000 bricks. We plan to take up the offering on June 2nd. Please pray that the people will allow God to stretch their faith through this special project.
This year we are really focusing on training / discipling leaders. There are two primary reasons why: 1) It’s Biblical, and 2) There is so much work that needs to be done and so many open doors in this country that we MUST have more qualified laborers if we are going to be able to go forward and see souls saved and churches planted. We must have more men who can preach and women who can teach. As the Bible Institute expands we believe that we will continue to see folks grounded in their faith and able to help bear a portion of the ministry. In the English speaking world we often take for granted all the Christian training materials that are readily accessible. However, it is difficult to find doctrinally sound materials in the Khmer language. We, and other Baptist missionaries, are working on producing materials but we still have a long way to go. We have chosen to provide the Bible Institute students with these 13 books in the Khmer language. I do not necessarily endorse 100% of the material in these books but we are thankful for the fact that they are available. We are also grateful for Pastor Hannahs and Fellowship Baptist Church who made the purchase of these 260 books (20 students x 13 books) possible through a special gift that they gave us. The Institute students will only need to pay a very small fraction of the actual purchase price due to their generosity.
I want to inform you of two new ministries that we intend to undertake with the Lord’s enabling:
1) A month from now we hope to begin a new soul-winning outreach to the remote homes situated just past Prak Pnou village all the way to Prak Kdawm village. These homes stretch along the main highway for about 20 kilometers. Some of the homes are close to each other but for the most part the houses are spread out. It is my guess that the majority of the folks who live in those homes have never had a soul-winner come to their door. This new ministry will be called “Highways and Hedges.” Please help us pray that we will be able to make good contacts through this endeavor. We hope to have 40 soul-winners participate in this one-day outreach. Towards the end of this month we hope to print a special tract for this outreach.
2) This week we are beginning the work on a 6 month project of writing daily devotionals to be used in all of our ministries beginning in January 2014. There are many materials available in English but that is not so in Khmer. We presently only have, to my knowledge, one set of 12 monthly devotional lessons that is doctrinally sound and in the Khmer language. These were produced several years ago by Bro. Benefield and the folks who are a part of their ministry and we will continue using those lessons through the end of this year. This project will be very time consuming but we feel that it is a necessary tool that can help new believers grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18) Please help pray that this project will go forward without glitches. I have asked 7 of our men to help with this project.
I could not resist taking this picture of Sophea this morning during the song service as she stood in the front row trying her best to fake singing ! Many of you prayed for her when she was prematurely born weighing only 2 pounds just 27 months ago. She is definitely a miracle baby !
Here is the link to a short video we shot just after the morning service. I challenge you to pay particular attention to the portion of the video showing the reaction of some Asian brothers and sisters who live a repressive country as they, for the first time in their lives, hold their own copy of God’s Word. https://vimeo.com/65991406
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason
April 28, 2013
Last weekend we were not able to send out an update due to the fact that we were without internet access. Two weeks ago we had a great time, as a church, fellowshipping together during the Cambodian New Year week. We played several games together, watched a Christian film in the Khmer language, and had a light dinner. Here in this photo you see some of the people playing a Bible verse game. They had to put the words in the correct order in order to form the verse without knowing what verse it was. Several tables competed against each other and they enjoyed the challenge.
When we started the church we made the decision to “begin with the end in mind.” I knew that the Lord desired a church full of people who are committed not just to “attend church” but who desired to be fully committed disciples of Jesus Christ. From the very first Sunday we taught and stressed the importance of obeying the Lord out of gratitude for what He has done in our lives. Therefore, we encouraged people, once they were saved, to become fully involved in the services, prayer meetings, and soul-winning ministries of the new church. In my judgment church-planters often make a mistake by starting out a new church-plant with, for example, only Sunday morning services with the idea that they will gradually add a Sunday evening service, Wednesday evening service, and organized church wide soul-winning. Obviously, as a church grows and expands there will always be new ministries added and taken away but we believe that it is best for someone to be fully involved from the very moment they are saved. It’s often very difficult to move someone to commitment once they have been complacently sitting in a church for month upon month. If commitment to Christ and His church is the goal, then commitment ought to be modeled, taught, and expected from the beginning. This philosophy is Biblical, but it is counter-cultural here in Cambodia. Because of the passivity that is stressed in Buddhism, people are looked down on and persecuted when they are considered to be “too involved” or to “believe too much.” We thank the Lord that the new believers here have the faith and conviction to go against their culture in so many areas.
Today was “Missions Sunday” at our church here in Phnom Penh. Though the church is only two years old and most of the folks are new believers, they have seen their responsibility as a Christian to be involved in the Great Commission and world missions. The nationals are currently helping to support three different national missionaries who are serving here in southeast Asia. One missionary family, Jeremiah and Esther Khun, are Burmese nationals who are serving as missionaries in Myanmar. They are serving in a very difficult part of the world that is controlled almost totally by Buddhism and the occult. The second missionary family, S——, are Cambodian nationals who are faithfully serving in a “creative access” country near here. They do not have the freedom to gather believers or do public evangelism. Therefore their evangelism and church services must be held underground. The third family, Proh and Chenda, are Cambodian nationals who are faithfully serving the Lord as home missionaries right here in Cambodia. They were both saved as young people at New Hope Baptist Church which was started and led by Missionary Rodney Ruppel.
We were privileged to have this family join with us for our first service this morning. Prohs preached a great message dealing with the Christian’s responsibility to share the Gospel with the lost. I particularly wanted Prohs and Chenda to come because of their strong testimony as believers. They have a family that is honoring to Christ and I wanted their example to be seen and felt in the church. Our church is thrilled to be able to have a small part in their ministries in Ta K’mou, Kampot, and Ta Keo province.
As we’ve been considering the mandate of the Great Commission this past week and, in particular, Acts 1:8, I have stressed the importance of not just reaching out to other countries with the Gospel through world-wide missions but also reaching our “Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.” The folks here are very faithful is handing out tracts and soul-winning. In the past two years we have printed thousands of tracts. I prepared a special graphic to help the church visualize the impact that the Lord is allowing us to make not just in our Jerusalem (Phnom Penh) but also to our Judea.
Every day of the week with the exception of Friday, we have groups from the church leave Phnom Penh and travel to the various locations indicated on the map. They go for the purpose of soul-winning as well as teaching new believers who have been won to the Lord over the past year or so. Arrow # 1 represents our church here in Phnom Penh. It is the “home base.” Arrow # 2 is approximately 37 miles from Phnom Penh and takes two hours one way to get there. Arrow # 3 is approximately 36 miles from Phnom Penh and takes about two hours one way to get there as well. Arrow # 4 is approximately 8 miles from Phnom Penh and takes about 30 minutes one way to get there. Although, they are currently working on the road and it has taken us up to an hour and a half to arrive there in recent days. Arrow # 5 is approximately 37 miles from Phnom Penh and I believe it takes about one and a half hours one way to get there. (I have not been to this outreach as of yet.) Arrow # 6 is about 15 miles from Phnom Penh and takes about an hour and a half one way to get there (including a ride on the ferry across the river). There are literally hundreds of villages within the yellow circle that are still without any Gospel witness whatsoever let alone a doctrinally sound church of any kind. As we have more national leaders trained we hope to be able to impact many of these villages. Please pray for more laborers !
Today’s services were all focused on the subject of Missions and our responsibility to be faithful stewards of the Gospel. We enjoyed several special songs all relating to the Great Commission. It is such a blessing to hear the folks sing with enthusiasm. (I’m not so sure our Buddhist neighbors feel quite as blessed…)
Another focus of the services this morning was for us to be reminded of the power of the Gospel as it is shared with the lost by God’s people. We had four adults share testimonies of how they were saved as a direct result of the personal soul-winning efforts of the folks who are part of Pacific Baptist Church of Phnom Penh.
Sokkang lives just about two minutes from the church and was saved this past year. She shared of the change that God has made in her own life and the life of her husband since they have known the Lord. She admitted that prior to being saved she lived for gambling, was not a good wife and mother, and had no purpose in life. Now that she is saved she has a desire to honor Christ with her life as well as be the wife and mother that God desires her to be. She encouraged our church to not forget about the people who live in our own neighborhood. They need Jesus too!
Ra has been saved now for just over a year and ten months. Before he knew the Lord it was common knowledge that he was the neighborhood terror. He was raised in a middle-class family here in Phnom Penh just a few blocks from our church. Though he enjoyed a certain level of financial comfort that many in this country do not enjoy, he did not have inner peace. He became involved with drinking, drugs, and crime. His actions eventually led to his incarceration in Cambodia’s notorious Prey Sar prison. Ra was invited to church by a soul-winner here at the church who was faithfully handing out tracts on the street. I clearly remember the first Sunday that Ra came to church; his hair was dyed red, he was very definitely either high on drugs or alcohol, and he looked around at everyone in the congregation in amazement that they were actually listening to the “nonsense” that I was preaching. However, God used the kindness of that soul-winner to help break down the walls that Ra had erected around himself and within a few days he had accepted Christ as his personal Saviour. He is now a faithful soul-winner and Children’s Ministry preacher. During his testimony he stressed the importance of not being afraid to share the Gospel with everyone you meet, even those who look intimidating and are seemingly not interested. Here is a link to a testimony that he shared some months ago. It is about 5 minutes long. He speaks Khmer but I have translated his testimony into English subtitles. I know that it will touch your heart. https://vimeo.com/64989001
San shared a testimony about the importance of having soul-winning missionaries here in Cambodia. The Lord allowed me to lead San to the Lord back in 2006. Since then he has had his spiritual ups and downs but for the past nearly two years he and his wife have been very faithful examples of what it means to stand for the Lord under heavy persecution. San and his wife, Yom, have both been disinherited by their unsaved parents and life has not been easy for them over the past year. Their faith was tested several months ago as their newborn baby died in their arms just 10 minutes after being born. Thankfully they are still faithful to the Lord and to serving others. San is a faithful soul-winner in the village church. (Arrow # 2) Today he stressed the importance of being a good testimony for the Lord within your own family.
Sovann lives in the village next to arrow # 2. Though he is Cambodian he is fluent in Mandarin (Chinese) and works as a translator at a Chinese garment factory. He shared with the church that he is actually from the city but left the city to go live in the village when he was hired at the factory. He said that village life was very lonely for him and he was not accustomed to living the village lifestyle. It was through the kindness of one of the families in the village church that he was first introduced to the Gospel. Sovann has been saved now for 5 weeks and has a strong desire to know the Lord. Please pray that his wife’s heart will be opened to the Gospel and that she will be saved. Sovann is very evidently a natural leader and I am confident that as he grows in the Lord he will be used in a mighty way to influence folks for the cause of Christ. Today he stressed the importance of our Phnom Penh church continuing to travel to the villages to win folks to Christ.
Our church was recently blessed by the birth of a new baby. Sinath and Sopheap have been saved for two years now and are faithful to the Lord. This is their fourth child. Their third child, Eden, is only a year and a half. I remember when they chose the name Eden they explained that they named him after the Garden of Eden because they wanted everyone to know that God created everything. They named this baby after the evangelist Philip in the book of Acts. It is such a blessing to see this family living for the Lord. Though Sopheap has had some minor complications related to her delivery she has been faithful in coming to church. Please pray that she will experience a complete healing very soon. (Baby Philip was already a couple of weeks old before they chose a name for him. When they were trying to chose a name they asked me for ideas. I simply told them that it was a good idea to chose a name from the Bible that has a good meaning etc… A couple of days later, much to my surprise, they had chosen his name…they were very excited that they had found just the “perfect” name…it was a name that is in the genealogy of Christ…Matthew 1:15 – Eliud ! They couldn’t wait for me to research the meaning and get back with them. Well, the meaning is not bad BUT – can you imagine the poor fate of this young boy growing up in Cambodia with the name Eliud ? Thankfully they took my recommendation when I advised them that they might want to find a different name.)
I want you to know Bundit. He is 15 years old and originally began attending our Children’s Ministry nearly two years ago. At that time he lived just about two blocks from the church. He used to be quite intimidated of those in his neighborhood who knew that he was a Christian. In fact, I distinctly remember that he would hide his Bible at the church because he was afraid to bring it home for fear of what his parents would say. He would often come ring the door bell on Monday and ask if he could get his Bible because he wanted to read it. Over the past year or so he has grown in his faith and boldness. His family all knows of his commitment to the Lord but he is no longer intimidated by their comments to him. A couple of months ago his family moved to the edge of town just past the Phnom Penh airport. He could no longer walk to church but he was committed to attending anyway. He now rides his bike through the heavy traffic for 30-40 minutes in order to get to church. We are so encouraged by his desire to be at church every time that the doors are opened. Debbie recently began teaching him how to play the piano. It seems that he has some natural talent and I know that he is excited to think that one day he will be able to play for church. Please pray for Bundit to remain faithful to the Lord.
We have been reaching out to Sokha and Dara for over a year now but have not seen them respond positively to the Gospel. Last week I visited them in their home and had the opportunity to eat lunch with them. They told me they were so happy that we could be friends because they like talking to me. I told them that I actually was not content to be their friend if that was all that they were interested in. I have never used that statement before with someone that I’m trying to lead to Christ and don’t necessarily recommend that anyone else uses it either. However, this past Saturday morning just before our Faithfulness Rally (Saturday visitation and soul-winners meeting) Sokha called me on the phone and asked if I was coming to see them or not. I told her that I was leaving for the village just after the meeting and I would not be back to Phnom Penh for several hours. She then asked if it would be okay for her and Dara to go with me. I told her that about 20 of us were going to the village to share the Gospel and encourage new believers and that she would likely either find it boring or might even resent the things we were going to be doing. She assured me that her and Dara actually wanted to be with us and insisted that they really wanted to go soul-winning with us. So we picked them up and they went ! They both had several hours to hear the Gospel presented over and over. I am hoping that their actions are an indication that they are responding to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps they are trying to just “feel us out” and make sure we aren’t some type of cult or crazy people… good luck on that one 🙂 When I dropped them off at their home around 1:00 p.m. Sokha had a huge smile on her face and said that they both had a great time. Dara works nights as a security guard and sleeps during the day. He only has a small window of free time where I can actually meet with him. Please pray that we will have some productive meetings in the very near future and that Dara and Sokha will be saved soon.
God continues to work in the hearts of folks in Prak Pnou village. (arrow # 4) Each Tuesday and Saturday myself, Brother Has, and several others go there to teach and share the Gospel. The Lord allowed me to lead Vuthy to Christ nearly a year and a half ago. His wife, PhanNy, was led to Christ by Mrs. Has just about three months ago. We currently use their house as a meeting place to hold an evangelistic Bible study each Tuesday. We have been witnessing to Chouen for about three months now. As I have dealt with her in her home about her need of salvation she will often complain that when she comes to church or listens to us talk she immediately gets a headache and becomes dizzy and unable to concentrate on what is being taught. It is very common here for those who are not saved to get headaches while they are listening to the Gospel message. In fact I told her that it was the Devil who was oppressing her and making it difficult for her to concentrate on what she was being taught. Two weeks ago she confided to one of our Cambodian soul-winners that she very often has a “kruu” that possess her. A kruu is a demon. It is likely a familiar spirit that has been passed down to her from her ancestors. The kruu is supposedly looked to and depended upon as the need arises. This is not a rare thing here in Cambodia. We see it quite often. Just three weeks ago, prior to her admission that she is involved with demons, myself, Brother Sinath, Sovann, and Hem all experienced paranormal activity while witnessing to her in her living room. She continues to desire to attend the Tuesday Bible study and will often attend the Sunday morning service in Phnom Penh as well. Please pray that the power of the enemy will be bound in Chouen’s life and that she will turn to Jesus as her personal Saviour. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 is as true today as it was when the Apostle Paul was led by the Holy Spirit to pen these words nearly 2,000 years ago: But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
We have several more prospects in Prak Pnou village with whom we are working. Please pray for their salvation as well: 1) Grandpa Cheng, 2) Mr. Somat & Ry, 3) Mr. Leng & his wife, 4) Mrs. Sophat and her daughter, Srey Mao, 5) Miss Jrub, 6) Mr. Sophorn & Soka, 7) Mr. Veasna.
Here is the link to a short video that we shot just after the services this morning. https://vimeo.com/64983502
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason
April 7, 2013
We had a great services today. This morning and evening some of our young men sang the song, Lead Me Lord. Kosal, wearing the blue shirt, translated it from English. The best part about their singing this song is that the testimony of their lives back up the words. Here are the words to this song in English:
It’s hard to take the first step, when I don’t know the way.
Each turn is so uncertain; I learn to walk by faith.
But You gave me a promise that You would never leave,
You will lead and guide me, O Lord, I do believe,
Lead me, Lord, I will follow
Lead me, Lord, I will go,
You have called me, I will answer,
Lead me, Lord, I will go.
Your plans for me are perfect, I never need to fear,
For though at times I feel alone, I know that You are near,
My heart just wants to follow, I’m willing to obey,
Take my hand and lead me, I’ll follow all the way.
This morning I continued preaching on the theme of A Transformed Life. This morning’s message was the seventh one in the series. This morning we focused on Romans 12:10a. Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another. The words “kindly affectionate” in the Khmer Bible convey the concept of helping to “guard each others heart.” This morning I focused on the importance of using our tongue to build each other up rather than to tear each other down. I believe that this truth spoke to many hearts this morning. The church continues to memorize the book of 2 Peter together. This coming week we will be quoting 2 Peter 2:13-15.
We recently had a combined service and Pot Luck. We try to do this every six weeks. It is a special time for a few of the believers from our various village ministries to have the opportunity to join the services in Phnom Penh. It is important for them to see and feel that they are not the only ones who believe in Jesus. They (from the villages) are encouraged by the large crowd, the singing, the testimonies, and the time of fellowship afterwards. We (from the city) are all encouraged by their boldness for the Lord. It is often much more difficult to live for the Lord in the village than it is in the big city. This month everyone brought their own version of Rice Soup and we enjoyed a special meal after the evening service.
During the evening service sister Soam shared a testimony of her joy in the Lord. You may recall several weeks ago that I wrote about the persecution she was going through in the Cham village. During her testimony she shared several of the events that she believes God used to bring her to Christ. I won’t seek to validate or invalidate her testimony; only God knows the methods He has chosen to draw her to Himself. Soam shared that three years prior to her accepting Christ she was very disillusioned with her religion. She knew that what was being taught and practiced at the local Mosque was not truth. Yet, she didn’t know where to find truth. She shared how that one night she had a dream. She believes that an angel appeared to her in the dream and told her the following: “If you want to know the truth, you will find it in Jesus Christ.” The problem was this – she didn’t know who or what was Jesus Christ. She had been born in the Muslim village and lived there her entire life. All she had known was Islam. Moving forward in time – About two years ago several of her friends from the village accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour and soon after began witnessing to her. She knew right away that this was what she was looking for. She knew that the hatred in her religion was not from God. She also knew that there was nothing that she could to to take away her sins. She needed God’s forgiveness. She accepted God’s forgiveness and she bears witness that no amount of persecution can take away the joy and peace that she has in the Lord. She said that she dare not back down in her commitment to the Lord because if she does she knows that those who are persecuting her will never get saved. She believes that they need to see her joy and contentment in the Lord. She has asked that we pray for her husband, Hem, to be saved.
We were blessed to have some of the senior class from our home church in California visiting with us for their senior trip. They attended our combined service and sang the song Sometimes We Wait. Our folks were blessed by their song as well as their examples of love and humility.
Poverty is a very serious problem in much of the 10/40 window. I researched online to try and discover where Cambodia currently ranks in the poverty index. I discovered that economists actually have a formula that they use to determine where each country falls in regard to wealth and poverty. I can assure you that poverty is much more than a formula to those who live all around us here in Cambodia. It is their life. The majority of their waking hours are spent just seeking to make enough money to live and eat for that day. Those who have done the research tell us that approximately 60% of Cambodians live on less than $2.00 a day. (30% on $1.00 or less) Some are under the mistaken notion that the cost of living in many third world countries must be very cheap. I can’t speak for other countries but I can provide you with some practical every day examples of the cost of items here in Cambodia. These prices are approximate. Milk – $8.40 a gallon , Gas – $5.50 a gallon, Ground Beef – $5.25 a pound, Chicken – $2.75 a pound.
For thousands of the young people in Cambodia the key to survival has been working in the garment factories that scatter the outskirts of Phnom Penh as well as several other provinces. As westerners it is very troubling to see the workers herded into trucks and transported from their shabby apartments to the factories every morning. One can literally see several dozen of these trucks every morning heading to each factory. Each truck holds approximately 90 workers. They work, often under very challenging circumstances, for 10-12 hours a day for about $65 a month. Much of their salary is sent back to their village in order to help support their parents and siblings. It might be a good family field trip for you to sometime take your children to WalMart or the local mall and merely look at the tags on the clothing that is sold there and think about the young people all around the world who labor to make that clothing. It ought to affect the way that we as Americans view the cheap items that we buy.
Some have no marketable skills or farmland from which to derive an income so they have resorted to gathering trash and recyclable items which they sell for cash. This woman likely supports several children on the small amount of money she can gather each day from the profits on her recycling efforts. Those who recycle will go door to door in the city and collect items from people at their homes. Unfortunately, the majority of homeowners sell these items to the recyclers and so there is not much profit left to be had. We always enjoy giving our recyclable items away for free along with a gospel tract.
It is always amazing to see how, even the poorest of the poor, will often times have priorities that seem to be out of kilter. Here we see a very basic village shack made of scrap aluminum. Right next to this shack is their satellite dish that provides them with satellite television. The television and the satellite are all run on batteries because this village, to my knowledge, does not yet have electricity.
Our lives are touched in so many ways as we seek to minister among the poor here in Cambodia. One of the things that touches our hearts is when we see poor children being generous with the small amount of money that they do have. Srey Neang, 14 years old, is an example of a young lady who lives in less than ideal circumstances which I will not elaborate upon. This past week she came to church with a gift that she presented to me. It was the tie that I am wearing in this photo. You should have seen the joy on her face as I wore it this morning to church. She has a job and gets paid $.31 an hour. I have no idea how many hours she had to work just to earn the money to purchase this silk tie.
Taiwan and his wife are another example of two new followers of Christ who are learning to honor God with their lives. I have begun teaching a series on Wednesday evenings on the topic of Biblical Stewardship. This past week SokKang shared a testimony with me regarding how God is working in their hearts to be faithful to Him with their possessions. Taiwan works full-time as a chef. SokKang is a stay-at- home mother. Recently Taiwan made a mistake at his job that caused an entire chicken to spoil. All the other employees encouraged him to hide the mistake from the boss. They assured him that they would help cover for him. His immediate response was, “No, I must tell the boss what I did.” They assured him that if he told the boss then his pay would be docked for the value of the chicken. Taiwan responded to them by saying, “I could deceive the boss, but I’m a Christian and I know that I could never deceive God. I will tell the boss and let him take it from my pay.” He did tell his boss and his boss did say that he would have to pay for the chicken. As SokKang shared this testimony with me she did it with a smile on her face! She said, “Pastor, I am so thankful that my husband is honest. He is a great example. He has been witnessing to the other employees at work for several months. Now they will see that he is truly God’s child.” The amount that Taiwan was due to pay was equal to about 8-10% of his monthly pay but he was happy to do it because he knew he was doing the right thing. The good news is this – When he got paid at the end of the week the boss had a change of heart and decided to not penalize him. He thanked him for being an honest employee!
Please pray for the ministry in Taiwan’s village. For quite awhile now our workers have been teaching 300-400 children each week in Ta Skov. The video that I have attached to this update shows some of the children walking to the Bible study. We have had resistance off and on for a couple of months now from a “church” that is in the village who has been running just a small handful of people. They became very angry at us for going into the village and teaching the children about God. A couple of weeks ago they began offering free English classes to try to draw the children away from us. (This is a common tactic here in Asia that is used by “churches” that want to draw a crowd. That is the point – they draw a crowd. A crowd and a congregation are not the same thing…I digress…) They managed to entice about 100 of the children away from our Children’s Ministry. However, we are very encouraged by the many children who are more interested in hearing God’s Word taught than they are in receiving free English classes. It appears that we may be losing the location where we have been meeting for over a year now. Please help us pray that God will grant wisdom and direction as we seek to locate a place large enough to accommodate that many children.
Here is the link to a 12 minute video update that we did after this morning’s service here in Phnom Penh. https://vimeo.com/63499776
Thank you for your continued prayers and interest in the ministry here in Cambodia. If we can help you in any way please feel free to contact us.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason