February 24, 2013
We had a great weekend here in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Thank you for praying for the various ministries. This morning our English choir sang the song, “It’s Through the Blood.” This song emphasizes the importance of the blood of Christ. We are thankful for the hard work and the time that this group invests to help provide good godly music for our services on a regular basis.
Today I continued preaching on a series dealing with the transformed life. Today’s text verse was Romans 12:9a, “Let love be without dissimulation…” (Dissimulation means hypocrisy). I devoted much time this morning and evening dealing with the truth that, as parents, our love for our children is to be unconditional. Love is unconditional but fellowship has conditions. This evening I devoted the entire message to stress the importance of not allowing an adult child who is a rebel remain in the home. This area of family life tends to be a strong-hold in many homes here in this part of the world. I have observed over and over, throughout the 28 years that I have been working among the Cambodian people, how the oldest child rebels and is allowed to remain in the home. Almost without fail he/she influences his siblings in the wrong way. Invariably we have seen each child, one by one, follow in the oldest child’s footsteps. So the purpose of today’s messages was to try and help prevent that from happening to the families of our church. We have so many young families who need to be taught truths that are so basic to us who have grown up in the church. Yet to them these truths are sometimes difficult to accept. I’m so thankful to have the privilege to help lead a church that, for the most part, is full of people who not only desire to know what God says, but desire to obey Him as well!
Our people are continuing on in the challenge to memorize the entire book of 2 Peter. Each week we all strive to quote at least three verses. It is such an encouragement to see how many people have readily taken on this challenge. It is helping to build team spirit as well.
This morning Vong Socheat, 72 years old, quoted the entire first chapter of 2 Peter all at once. She puts those of us who are younger to shame. As she grows in the Lord we really believe that God desires for her to use her influence to see many people come to know the Lord here in Cambodia. Sister Socheat has a high ranking government job in the Ministry of Education. Pray that she continues to grow in her faithfulness to the Lord and her involvement in the various ministries of the church.
Koeuth and Pich are sisters who live in a Catholic orphanage not far from our church. They were so excited to be at church this morning. Pich shared with me that she is a Christian but has not been to church for a long time. She shared how she was so blessed just by being with the other believers this morning and taking part in the service. She has asked for prayer that she and Koeuth will be allowed to continue to come to our church. As a Christian she is very disturbed to see the other young people in the orphanage praying to Mary (as well as still performing Buddhist rituals). She says that she knows that is not right and we are only to worship the true God. Please pray that her authorities in the orphanage will allow these two young ladies to get close to our church ladies. I believe they have so much potential for the Lord!
Last week we had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours with some of the couples in the church. We rented a large boat and took a two hour tour on the Mekong River. It was a blessing to have 14 of our faithful couples participate in this activity. There were others who desired to join in but were unable to because of schedule conflicts. Pray for the marriages in our church to be strong for the Lord. During the message tonight I made a statement that I have heard many times said from the pulpit in the United States – “We have weak communities because we have weak churches. We have weak churches because we have weak families. We have weak families because the husbands are not strong. The husbands, many times, are not strong because they have never been taught how to properly lead in their home.” We are planning, on purpose, to focus on discipling the men this year.
It is such a blessing to see how Sinath and Sopheap are growing in the Lord. Their joy is very evident on their faces. They have recently undergone some persecution by their unsaved family members but they remain committed to follow the Lord in every area of their lives. Sinath is faced with making a very important decision this week that has the potential to greatly affect him financially. In order to maintain his testimony in the village it is very likely that he will decide to yield his rights to some land. This decision is not one that he is taking lightly but he feels that he may need to do this in order to be the testimony that he feels the Lord wants him to be. Sopheap is supporting him in this decision. Please pray that Sinath and Sopheap will have wisdom to make the proper decision. Lord willing, we will be building a church building in his village in a few weeks.
I’m encouraged by the spiritual growth that is evident in Brother Sovann and some of his family. Sovann came to know the Lord through another group about 10 years ago. While we don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye with that particular church on many issues of the Christian life, it is obvious that Sovann developed a teachable spirit and a true heart to serve the Lord. Sovann and several of his family members have been attending the church and Bible Institute for about 7 months now. Sovann’s work schedule demands much of his time but he has made the decision to get involved in the outreach of our church as much as he can. Two weeks ago he began going soul-winning on Saturdays with our church. It has been a blessing to have him as my partner both of these weeks. Pray that Sovann and his wife will continue to remain teachable. I believe that God can truly use this family for His glory among the Cambodian people.
You may recall that we are focusing on a village not far from here named Prak Pnou. Each Tuesday and Saturday we go there to teach as well as evangelize. There have been several adults and young people accept Christ as their personal Saviour. This past Tuesday PhanNy accepted the Lord as her Saviour. She has been attending the Bible study group for nearly a year now but just recently admitted that she was not yet saved. We are thankful for her courage to approach one of the workers this past Tuesday and express her desire to be saved. Pray that she will be faithful to the Lord. She has a burden to see others come to know the Lord as well.
I’m so excited to let you know that Somvouth accepted Christ this past Saturday! When I went to go teach him at his home I could tell right away that there was something different about his attitude. Myself, Sinath, and Sovann have been going to his home for several weeks now and sharing the gospel with him. Thank you for praying for his salvation. Pray that his wife, Nyoum, will also see her need to accept Christ for herself. Saturday morning when I asked her if she was ready to turn to God from idols, her reply was, “I will follow my husband. Whatever he decides to believe I will believe.” It is evident that she does not yet understand that forgiveness of sins is something that she must personally accept. Pray for Somvouth to be faithful to the Lord. Somvouth is a self employed tailor and works on a very busy street that is in full public view. Every time I am at his house we draw quite a bit of attention to say the least. His neighbors are curious as to why there is a white man (me) at his house. It will be impossible for him to be an “undercover Christian.”
Tomorrow afternoon Man and Kanha will become engaged to be married. We will hold a special meeting here at the church and certain people will be invited to come and witness the engagement. Engagements are normally quite a big deal in this culture. It is a time when both sides of the family come together along with friends and acknowledge the relationship. I led Man to Christ about 8 years ago. Kanha was led to Christ by a single young lady from our home church in Long Beach who served for a short time with us here in Cambodia. Both Man and Kanha have paid a heavy price for their faithfulness to the Lord over the past year. Man’s father, a village chief, has totally abandoned the family because of their faith in Jesus Christ. True to Muslim tradition, this past year he also divorced Man’s mother because she would not renounce her faith in Christ and return to Islam. Kanha’s entire family has made it very clear that they are very unhappy with her decision to follow Christ and turn away from Buddhism. Because of Kanha’s unwavering commitment to honor the Lord with her life, her family has, within the past two weeks, disowned her. The “straw that broke the camels back” was when she refused to follow her parent’s command to have a Buddhist Priest and alcohol at the wedding. Because of her decision to follow her convictions her family has totally cut her off. Though this young couple is experiencing much heartache because of the rejection of their family, they remain joyful in the Lord. Both of them are fantastic soul-winners. They both teach children and young people here at the church and I know that, as they remain faithful, God will continue to use them for His glory. Please pray that Man’s father and Kanha’s entire family will have a change of heart and agree to participate in the wedding that is scheduled for the middle of March. (Man’s entire family, other than his father, are now saved and faithful to the Lord.)
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason
February 10, 2013
This past week Cambodia mourned the death of the former king, King Sihanouk. The funeral festivities went on for several days. During that time the government ordered there to be no weddings, no parties, no happy music, and no public display of joy whatsoever. It is said that perhaps a million or so Cambodians traveled from the provinces to take part in the funeral as he was revered by many to be a “deity.” His proper title was actually “God-King.” Unfortunately this funeral led to the compromise of at least one of the people who is a part of our church as she yielded to pressure from family and business associates to attend a part of the ceremony that no Christian should attend. We took a short portion of the service last Sunday morning to pray for those who are grieving the loss of their beloved king. We prayed that it would provide more of an opportunity to present the Gospel to those who are still lost. We also thanked God that King Jesus conquered death and the grave and we will never have to attend His funeral ! 1 Timothy 6:15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.
Just after the funeral was over Chinese New Year celebrations began. The entire capital shuts down for three days. Even universities close their doors. It is good, in one way, for our church people because it provides a reprieve from the daily routine. However, the vast majority of festivities that take place during the Chinese New Year weekend are not events in which Christians ought to participate.
The New Year is built around superstition, sacrifice to the ancestors and demons, drinking, and other forms of debauchery. It begins with a frantic fight to be the one to light incense at just the right moment in the Temple. The burning incense is then taken home and burnt on the family alter. The superstition is so strong that they believe the “good luck” will determine their entire year’s events. If something goes wrong during the ceremonies they believe that they will be destined to an unprofitable year in their family and business.
Ancestral worship is a spiritual strong-hold in the Cambodian community but it is particularly strong for those who are of Chinese heritage. Several of the adults in our church have been saved over the past two years out of this spiritual bondage. They felt the pressure from unsaved relatives to take part in the rituals. We praise the Lord that the vast majority of them have totally turned their back on ancestral sacrifices and they are taking a strong stand for the Lord. The pictures above are just a small sample of the items that are burned or “sacrificed” on behalf of the ancestors. You will notice that they sacrifice items that they hope can be used by their loved ones who are “trapped” in Hell. Items such as fake gold bars, clothing, fake cardboard Lexus cars and fake money are sacrificed. You will notice that the money is very clearly marked as a “Hell Bank Note.” The individual depicted on the front of the money is considered to be the King of Hell. This year I even saw a bag of potato chips sacrificed to the ancestors. You will notice the passport that is purchased by the living relatives, hoping that their effort will help their loved ones be able to leave Hell and enter Paradise. No doubt everything that is done on behalf of the ancestors is done out of love and desperation. How sad it is to see their hope placed in something that is useless. Continue to pray that the Truth will go forth in this land and we will continue to see eyes and hearts opened to the Gospel. It is a spiritual battle that is waging. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 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.
It would be good to ask ourselves this question: Am I trying to keep my loved ones out of Hell as hard as the Chinese are trying to get their loved ones out of Hell ? I recently heard a pastor ask his church this question: Has the Gospel stopped with you or is it being passed on by you ?
One area that we are striving to grow in is the area of Christian hospitality. I will admit that our family is a bit weak in this area. We are making it a point to use our home this year to, on a regular basis, show hospitality to the members of the church. This past week we were privileged to have four families into our home for a meal and some games. We all had a wonderful time. The adult men enjoyed learning how to play dominoes while their children tried to conquer the game Perfection. Lord willing we will have four more families over in a couple of weeks. It is our desire to, not just provide Christian fellowship for these new believers, but to model for them how Christian families are to enjoy wholesome and godly entertainment.
This past week we took the two hour trip to Prey Bang village located in Kandal Province. This is the home village of Brother Sinath. The Lord allowed me to lead Sinath to salvation just over two years ago. Our workers have been going to this village for several months now and there are three families, in addition to Sinath’s family, who have accepted Christ. Additionally there is a good group of children attending the children’s ministry there in the village. The specific purpose of the trip was to scope out some land where we can build a simple church building. We are hoping to break ground in March. All the men from the Phnom Penh church as well as the church in Kompong Chhnang will join together to put up the building.
This evening Brother Sinath shared with the church an update on the progress in this particular village. He shared the names of several more adults who, we believe, are close to accepting Christ. No doubt the enemy wants to fight this new village church and we need your prayers to ensure that the work continues to go forward and is not frustrated by local officials or neighbors who are not friendly to our intentions.
Our return trip from Prey Bang was quite eventful as our Tuk Tuk died about 5 minutes outside of the village. (2 hours from home) We are thankful that God provided a truck that could transport the Tuk Tuk back to the city where we could get it repaired. You’ve never really experienced travel until you ride in a Tuk Tuk that is sitting atop a truck as it bounces down the bumpy roads of rural Cambodia. I guarantee you that my Chiropractor who just helped me avoid surgery this past August would not have approved of the ride whatsoever ! I spent the next two days being in constant remembrance as to the lack of wisdom on my part in riding in the Tuk Tuk while it was on the truck. Praise the Lord for ice packs and Ibuprofen !
Brother Vanna is from Prey Bang Village and was recently led to the Lord by Brother Keo and Brother Sinath. This evening we invited him to share a public testimony during the service about change that God has done in his life since salvation. He shared how that prior to being saved he was a proud and arrogant drunk who was living a hopeless existence. Since being saved his life has been radically changed by God’s power. I know, for a fact, that he is fasting and praying for unsaved family members. Praise the Lord for the power of the Gospel ! Please pray that Vanna and his wife will continue to grow in the Lord and be a shining light in this very dark village.
Several of the Cham believers sang a special number in this morning’s service. They sang the hymn “Am I a Soldier of the Cross ?” We were all challenged and touched listening to them sing every verse of this hymn. I believe that perhaps more than any other people group in this country, the Cham believers have endured the most persecution because of their total abandonment of Islam and their acceptance of Jesus Christ. Two of the verses of this song ought to especially speak to our hearts as American believers: (verse 2) Must I be carried to the skies, On flowery beds of ease, While others fought to win the prize, And sailed through bloody seas? (verse 4) Sure I must fight if I would reign; Increase my courage, Lord. I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, Supported by Thy Word. Sitting in the congregation listening to them sing was Sister Soam who recently accepted Christ. Since being saved she has done her very best to be faithful to the Lord and has paid , and is paying, the price for her dedication. Soam spent her entire life in the darkness of Islam while knowing the whole time that she was following a lie. She gives testimony that for the past ten years she has been praying to the true God – Not knowing who He was but believing that He could hear her prayers. When Cham soul-winners shared the Gospel with her two months ago she readily accepted Christ. Please pray for Soam to remain strong in the Lord and in the power of His might !
Grandma is the matriarch of the Cham village. It was a blessing to have her in the services today. She traveled all the way from the village to be able to join with the believers in the Phnom Penh church. I remember witnessing to her on multiple ocassions eight years ago and telling her that she would one day accept Jesus. I clearly recall her openly mocking me as I taught in the village. It is a blessing to all of us to see that her heart is now fully given over to the Lord.
This morning during the 11:00 Children’s Ministry service I had the privilege of hearing Brother Kosal preach to the young people ages 12-18. Kosal has grown so much spiritually over the past year. He has submitted himself to spiritual accountability and we have seen him make great strides in several areas. Kosal is an English teacher in a local University but spends every free moment that he has serving the Lord. He has a true passion to see his Cham people come to know the Lord. This morning he preached a message about the importance of the young people having a strong testimony at home in front of their parents. It was a powerful truth that he presented that was backed up by his life. Kosal has had spiritual ups and downs, as we all have, but I believe that he has turned a “spiritual corner” and that God is able to use him.
Not long ago Kosal was out soul-winning and led Retsmey to the Lord. Retsmey is a 19 years old Khmer young man who has chosen to put Christ first place in his life. His new found faith has so disturbed his Buddhist parents that they sent him to go live in a city three hours from here in an attempt to get him away from “the crazy Baptist church people.” What they did not know is that, though they sent Retsmey away, they could not ban the influence of the Holy Spirit in his life. Retsmey remained resolved to walk with the Lord. We were all very surprised and blessed to see him walk into the service this Sunday. His parents changed their mind and decided that they might as well allow him to return to Phnom Penh and do whatever he wants to do since they can’t “control” him anyway. Pray that Retsmey will remain close to the Lord. Yesterday he joined one of our neighborhood “Bus Routes” that is led by Brother Has. This will allow him regular accountability as well as provide him one-on-one mentoring.
This picture has no real purpose other than the fact that I thought it was cute ! These young girls are led in this music group by Miss Samantha Thaing (on the far left). They sang the song, “Trust and Obey” as a special during the service this morning. The young lady in the middle is Tina. (Many of you heard me tell of how she prayed ten times one night for her parent’s plane not to crash as they returned from Malaysia because they were not yet saved and she didn’t want them to go to Hell… she is the young lady who refused to purchase alcohol for her father’s party. As you know, God blessed her faithfulness and answered her prayers. Both of her parents are now faithful believers and play very vital roles in the outreach ministries of our church.)
Please pray for the following items: 1) Salvation of Mr. Perun, 2) Wisdom as we are putting together a business plan that we trust will generate a regular monthly income for two of our families in the church who desire to be free from their careers so that they might serve the Lord more. 3) Wisdom and direction concerning the purchase of land that will be used by believers in our ministries as a Christian cemetery. This is a big need here in Cambodia.
Here is the link to a short video that we shot just after the evening service tonight. https://vimeo.com/59368318
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason
January 27, 2013
We don’t normally send updates three weeks in a row. I will likely go back to sending them out bi-weekly beginning next week. However, there are so many encouraging things going on here that we just had to share them with you once again this week!
We had great services this weekend here at Pacific Baptist Church of Phnom Penh. We are thankful for the 5 first time adult visitors who came to the morning service. Lord willing we will be able to follow-up on them and see them reached with the gospel. It is sometimes quite a challenge to actually find people’s homes as many of the addresses in Phnom Penh don’t seem to follow any rhyme or reason.
We enjoyed several specials in the morning and evening services. Our English singing group sang the song “Will They Ever Know.” It is a song that reminds us each of our responsibility to get the message of the gospel to everyone with whom we come into contact. The young girls sang the song “Humble Yourself in the Sight of the Lord.” Four of the young ladies in this group have only known the Lord for a few months. We are thrilled that they are already getting involved in serving through music.
This past week a group from the Phnom Penh church traveled about an hour and a half to be an encouragement to a new believer who is a part of the village church. While we were there some of the ladies prepared food for the group. Nearly everyone of these ladies has had serious tragedy in their lives before they knew the Lord. One of them was abandoned by her husband and left to be a single mother. One has endured very hurtful circumstances in her marriage that would have caused most wives to divorce their husband. One of these ladies was abandoned on the door step of a relative by her mother and father as a new-born baby and told that she was not wanted. One of the ladies, since coming to Christ, has had her father abandon the family because of his hatred for Christianity and his loyalty to Islam. As I look at this picture I see one thing that they all have in common – They are all filled with JOY! Their joy has definitely not been found through having an easy life. They have not found joy in possessions. None of these ladies have any possessions of which to speak. They have all found joy through having their sins forgiven and becoming reconciled to God. On this particular day they found joy through serving God by serving others. By the way, that is the only true source of lasting joy for any of us no matter where we live. If you and I are looking for fulfillment in the possessions that we accumulate we will become very unhappy people. It has been said that contentment will make a poor man rich and discontentment will make a rich man poor! I believe these ladies can teach many of us some important life lessons. James 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
The lady that we went to encourage is pictured here in this group. We traveled to meet her in a secret location, prepared to pray, read Scripture, and listen to God’s Word be taught. Though we did all of those things, perhaps the most important thing that was accomplished at the meeting was all of us being challenged by her testimony of faith in Christ. She shared with the group how she has been praying to the “true God” for the past ten years. Though she is Cham and lives in a Cham village, she has known for years that her religion was false. She shared that she had no idea where to find the true God but she was convinced that He was out there somewhere and she desired to know Him. When she accepted Christ this past month her husband was not happy and he has made her life very difficult. With great resolve she shared with us how that she is willing and happy to go through the persecution because she desires to see her husband and adult children come to know the Lord. She told us that if she backs off now she knows that they will never be saved. Nearly every one of the folks in the picture above can relate with this dear sisters testimony as they have been saved out of Islam as well. Several of the folks have been “disinherited” by their parents. (This means they have lost every bit of land and every possession that they were to inherit as adult children.) One of the ladies in the group has had her husband divorce her in a very public and humiliating manner because of her refusal to renounce her faith in Jesus Christ. One of the men, before salvation, was a leader at the Mosque. He is now perhaps one of the most hated men in the entire village because of his bold stand for Christ. Please continue to pray for the believers here in Cambodia. Pray especially for sister Saum.
Last year we began seeking to share the gospel in Prak Pnou, a city about 7-8 miles from our church. As folks have responded to the salvation message we have begun holding regular Bible studies in the home of one of the new believers. Mr. Somvouth and his wife, Nyoum, have expressed interest. Nyoum has been to two of our meetings. Additionally we have had the opportunity to witness to them at their home on two occasions. Both of them are in their mid-60’s and have been practicing Buddhists for their entire lives. They own a tailor shop and have occultic items hanging on their walls which they believe will bring them more clientele as well as provide them protection from the evil spirits. Unlike most Buddhists, they don’t seem to believe in reincarnation. When I asked Somvouth what he thought happens after death he answered that he believes we all cease to exist at death. They both sobered up quite a bit as Brother Sinath and I shared with them from God’s Word that what they have believed their entire lives is a lie from the devil. Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. After quite a long meeting with them this past Saturday I apologized to him if what we were saying was making him upset. (I did not apologize for telling him the truth. I apologized for the fact that he may not be happy to hear it.) He responded by saying, “We are not mad at all. We want to know what is true and what is false.” Pray that Somvouth and Nyoum will be saved very soon !
A section of Prak Pnou is almost exclusively made up of Vietnamese immigrants. Many of them have been here in Cambodia for 20 years or more. Some are new arrivals. While many of them speak basic Khmer, it is very difficult to communicate with them regarding anything other than basic conversational Khmer. I have met some children who apparently only speak the Vietnamese language. Our church has a burden to reach the Vietnamese here in Cambodia and that is why we have begun targeting this particular village. Each week we have a group of workers who hold a Bible study with the Vietnamese children. We normally have between 30-40 children attend that Bible study. We currently have a few adult prospects that Bro. Has and some of us are working on. One of the prospects is Heap Kai. Mrs. Kai is 82 years old and has lived here in Cambodia for about 30 years. She is just one example of someone with whom we are having a difficult time communicating the gospel. Her understanding of the Khmer language is shallow at best. She is very friendly and always invites us into her home to sit and talk. She even lets our workers drop-in and use her restroom whenever we are there in the village for several hours. This past week one of our workers gave her the plan of salvation in a Vietnamese tract. The problem is – she can no longer see well enough to read. She has placed the tract and materials that we have given her in a place in her living room that she considers to be very sacred – right on the Cao Dai (the name of her religion) shrine along side of her idols, incense, and candles. She very clearly does not understand that she can not merely add Jesus to her gods. Please pray that we will somehow be able to communicate to her and that God will supernaturally open her heart of understanding. Pray that once her heart is opened she will not reject the truth. Acts 16:14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. It would be a wonderful thing if someone in America would heed God’s call upon their lives and come to Cambodia to serve along side us and target the Vietnamese population.
Today we had some children attend our Children’s Ministry whom I had never met. They all live in our neighborhood and were very excited to be here today. The little girl on the far right as well as the girl in the middle speak decent English. I was surprised to learn that five of these children in this picture are students at the local school that is sponsored by a very large cult here in Cambodia. What interested me most was the questions that the children asked me – “Do you love Jesus?” “Do you like to study about Jesus?” This cult is doing a decent job of teaching these children English. They are also introducing the children to very basic concepts from the Bible. Sad to say that the Jesus this group believes in is the brother of Lucifer, used to commit sin just like every human being, and originally taught that polygamy is a good thing. Their doctrine is very clearly not Biblical truth. We hope to be able to reach these children with the gospel. Please pray for their salvation. FYI – This particular cult, head-quartered in Utah, as of the year 2009 had 40 national missionaries, 60 single men from the States, 28 single ladies from the States, and 19 retired married couples from the States who are serving as “missionaries” here in Cambodia. That totals 147 full-time workers who are all working together as a team with one goal and one vision. I’m always a bit bewildered when the occasional person will remark that there are already enough Baptist missionaries in Cambodia! We don’t even come close to 147 in the entire country!
Srey Neang is one of our faithful young ladies. She is at church nearly every time that the doors are open. Today I snapped a picture of her as she was preparing the snacks for the Children’s Ministry. Pray for her mother, Srey Mohm, to be saved.
Srey Pou was led to the Lord in recent months by one of the ladies in our church. As a single mother her life is not easy. It has been a real blessing to see her faithfully attending the services. This morning I had the opportunity to talk with her for an extended period of time just after the service. She shared with me the changes that God is making in her life now that she is saved. She also shared of her burden for her lost family members. I know that Debbie would like to get closer to her in the near future. Pray that Srey Pou will continue to grow in the Lord and will get planted in the church.
This past week Brother Adrian and myself had the opportunity to visit his family in a village that is about 5 miles from our church. The entire village is Muslim and has no gospel witness whatsoever. We have been told that there are 1,000 families in this particular village. This plaque is hung just above the bedroom door of the home we visited, “There is no god but Allah. Mohammad is messenger of Allah.” Brother Adrian’s uncle, who happens to be the police man in charge of security for the entire village, attended our church service this morning. I was watching his face as I preached. He did not look mad – he simply look bewildered as to why the auditorium was full of people who seemed to be agreeing with everything I was saying. It was sort of amusing to watch him looking around at the people saying amen. I can only imagine what his lunch conversation was once he arrived back home. Pray that God will open the door for Adrian to win some of his family to the Lord in this village. It could be that there will one day be a church planted in this village!
Here is the link to a 5 minute video update that we shot just after the morning service today. https://vimeo.com/58299622
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Deb, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason
January 20, 2013
Our hearts are rejoicing to be able to be a part of what God desires to do here in the Kingdom of Cambodia. His name is being made known in a mighty way through this ministry as well as other churches of like faith. Thank you so much for your faithful prayers and support for the work here. There is fruit that is remaining to your account. We are so grateful to report that there was a total of 763 different folks in the various ministries of our church this past week. To God be the glory great things He hath done! Several children and adults made professions of faith this past week as well. Please continue to uphold these new believers in prayer as they continue to grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The persecution has begun to intensify once again in one of the village churches. I thank the Lord for the encouraging update that Brother Keo shared with the church this evening about the solid stand that the believers are taking there in that Muslim village.
We had wonderful services this morning here in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Several of our young men sang a special. This was their first time to sing on a Sunday morning and they did a wonderful job of lifting up the name of Christ. Some of the teen girls and ladies also sang a special number. The leaders are doing a fantastic job of mentoring the various music groups that have been started. We now have 6 different music groups that serve in the church. Very soon Debbie will, Lord willing, begin teaching piano to four or five of the young people. None of them will be able to afford a keyboard so I’m sure our family will be blessed by hearing them all practice on our keyboard throughout the week. : )
This morning I began a series entitled “The Transformed Life.” The emphasis this morning was two-fold: 1) It’s only as we read, memorize, and meditate upon God’s Word that we will have our lives transformed – John 15:3, “Now are ye clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” 2) As we allow God’s Word to transform our lives, our friends in the world will begin to wonder why we are so different – 1 Peter 4:4, “Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess or riot, speaking evil of you.” Over the next several weeks we will be touching upon various changes that are evident in the life of a growing Christian. As a church we will be memorizing the book of 2 Peter together this year. It was a blessing to see that several of the folks can already quote the first few verses. Each week during our Wednesday evening service we have a short time that we review our Scripture memory together.
We had a great turnout for the 11:00 Children’s Ministry as well with 191 children in attendance. We are in the process of training more workers who are able to preach for the various Children’s Ministries that are operating in several villages throughout the week. As any children’s program in the States would do, we have singing and game time with the children each week. However, the Children’s Ministry is built upon the teaching and preaching of the Word of God. It is a blessing to see the young children respond to the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Today Brother Kosal preached for our teen service on the roof. Kosal has taken some serious steps of spiritual growth over the past 9 months. Please uphold Kosal in prayer as he maintains a very busy schedule teaching English in a local university as well as volunteering here at the church many hours each week. I believe that, as he remains yielded to the Lord, God will use him in a mighty to reach more of his people.
Our church theme for this new year is ” Watch Ye.” This week we will have this graphic printed as a large banner and it will hang in the auditorium as a reminder of the theme. Many of the messages this year will be geared around this theme as well. We are grateful for Missionary Sara Vong’s help in laying out the graphics for this year’s theme.
It was a blessing to be able to purchase our fourth Tuk Tuk this past week. The Tuk Tuks are very helpful to transport folks to and from the village ministries during the week. Though they are a bumpy and windy ride and often break down due to the inferior parts that are used here in Cambodia, we are thankful not to be riding on horse and buggy! We are grateful for some godly people in Costa Rica who are friends of our ministry and who have a heart for world missions. They made it possible for us to purchase this Tuk Tuk.
This evening, as is our custom, we took a special time during the service to share blessings. Many people shared how God has been working in their lives and of their joy in serving Him. After sharing blessings we had a short Bible Sword Drill. They always enjoy this time of competition.
Here is the link to a 6 minute video that we shot this evening after the service. In this video you will meet Brother Adrian Torres. Adrian is a new missionary from our home church and he will be working with our team here in Phnom Penh. https://vimeo.com/57786153
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason
January 13, 2013
It was wonderful to have a small group from the Phnom Penh church greet us at the airport when we arrived this past Thursday. We are blessed to be back in Cambodia after our very quick 5 month furlough.
The last official ministry responsibility that we fulfilled prior to leaving for the States 5 months ago was to bury the baby of one of our families. You may recall that Ooeun and Srey Touch had a very serious motorcycle accident and their daughter, Linda, was killed instantly. In America it seems to be a rare thing to have an infant die. Here is Cambodia it is a different story. Sadly babies die very often here in this country. Sometimes it is due to the health of the mother and a serious lack of nutrition and adequate pre-natal care. Other times the babies die because of the dire conditions that are found in the medical facilities as well as the lack of compassionate and competent care by the medical “professionals.” Such was the case with Brother San and his wife Yom. This young couple has taken a very strong stand for the Lord and has grown so much over the past two years. (Yom was saved just two years ago.) They have been looking forward to the birth of their first child with great anticipation. For reasons that I don’t fully understand, the baby boy was born this past week and died just 10 minutes later. This tragedy has hit them rather hard as could be expected. Had there been proper procedures at the hospital the baby would have likely been fine. Please pray for San and Yom as they are grieving. The baby was buried on their land in the Cham village which has caused quite an uproar. So not only is this Godly couple going through the personal pain of losing their son but they are also under heavy persecution from the Muslims in their village. Please pray that they will endure this trial and grow in their faith as a result.
Yom was released from the hospital Friday morning and I was able to go and visit with her very briefly. It was a wonderful blessing to see Ooeun and Srey Touch, who lost their baby daughter just months prior, there in the hospital room seeking to encourage San and Yom. No doubt God has allowed this trial in their lives for a reason.
It was wonderful to be able to once again fellowship with our people today at the church. Samnang and Watha have been attending the church for the past two years. I wrote about them last year. You may remember that they are almost always the very first people to arrive each Sunday morning. (blog update from January 1, 2012 https://goodnewsfromafar.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/january-1-2012/) This brother and sister truly represent the desperate poverty that exists in this land and even within our own church. Debbie remarked to me this morning that they were both wearing the exact same tattered clothes they were wearing 5 months ago. More tragic than the physical poverty is the pervasive spiritual poverty here in Cambodia. We thank the Lord for faithful Christians in America that are making it possible for us and other missionaries to bring spiritual and physical hope to these people.
Here is the link to a 2 minute video update that we did just following our morning service. https://secure.vimeo.com/57312152
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason
December 3, 2012
Thank you for praying for our family as we have been traveling. It has been wonderful to be able to see many of you over the past four months. We very much look forward to returning to Cambodia and jumping right into the work once again.
It was a blessing to be able to return to Des Moines, Iowa, and be with some folks we helped to reach 28 years ago. Mrs. Horm Chet and her family began riding our Sunday School bus back in 1984 when we first began working with Cambodian refugees. As a new arrival to the United States she did not know how to get around the city and our bus workers invested many hours in her family. It was a blessing to see her, and other Cambodians whom the Lord allowed us to impact years ago, in the congregation still faithfully attending church for the past many years.
Missionary Sara Vong made a survey trip to Cambodia this past year. He brought back just a small handful of Jasmine rice still in the husk. His father, Sareth, planted just three grains of rice and the result was a rice plant that produced nearly 1000 grains of rice. This illustration from nature is a powerful reminder of what we should expect to happen as we plant the seed of the Word of God. (Luke 8:11) There will always be some hearts that are soft and able to receive the seed. It is not our responsibility to determine who has a soft heart and whose heart is hard. Our task as believers is to spread the seed of God’s Word wherever we can with the belief that it will not return void. (Isaiah 55:11) Brother Vong and his wife, Neaty, are Cambodian-Americans who were reached through our home church in California. They have invested many years of faithful service in the States and now God is opening the door for them to win souls and plant churches in Cambodia. They both grew up in Khmer- speaking homes and are versatile in the culture and language. They will be a great asset to the cause of Christ in Southeast Asia. Please help pray that they will complete their deputation in a timely fashion. If you would like to learn more about their ministry you can view their deputation video at this link: http://thevongfamily.com/2012/09/02/video-presentation
One of the ways that we plant the seed of the gospel in Cambodia is through handing out gospel tracts. In the past two years our church in Phnom Penh has handed out nearly 25,000 tracts. This past week I completed writing three new tracts that we will get printed in January. We are grateful for a special gift given to us by Fellowship Baptist Church in Iowa. It will allow us to print 15,000 of these new tracts. Very seldom do we see people come to Christ through just reading a tract in Cambodia. Because of the culture of Buddhism, Islam, and a general confusion in regard to Jesus Christ that is brought about, in part, by the cults and the new evangelicals in Cambodia, it normally requires that the soul-winner invest many hours in each person that will eventually be saved. These three tracts are by no means exhaustive in their explanation of the gospel message but we will use them as a bridge to discuss Jesus with the lost. The first tract, One Minute After You Die, is based upon the Rich Man and Lazarus. The second tract, You Don’t Fear the Thorns but You Fear the Tiger, is loosely based upon a Cambodian folk story from many years ago. This tract challenges the reader to face their fear of death and the afterlife. The third tract, The True Path from Ancient Times, is based upon Scriptures from the Old Testament that were written many hundreds of years prior to the birth of Buddha. Very often we are asked this question, “How can Jesus be God and why should we worship Him since He was born after Buddha was born?” Buddha was born in approximately the year 563 B.C. (although there is some question as to the veracity of that date.)
In addition to writing the tracts, while traveling in the States for the past 4 months I have been able to complete writing some new believer discipleship materials in the Khmer language as well as curriculum for our Bible Institute class on 1 & 2 Peter. When in Cambodia it is often very difficult to find the time (as well as hold still long enough) to write the materials that are so vital to equipping the new believers. Not only will we use these materials in Phnom Penh but they will be used by the nationals as the ministry continues to spread to other villages.
Last year we were contacted by a Creation Science Evangelism ministry and asked to translate one of their video presentations into Khmer for use in the United States as well as around the world. This past week I was able to finally complete that project and get it sent off to the ministry. Evolution has been taught in Cambodia for many years. It is widely accepted that the earth is billions of years old and that life originated with a Big Bang. It is also believed that dinosaurs became extinct millions of years ago and that man did not “evolve” until after they had become extinct. It is interesting to point out that even the Cambodian culture itself shows the fallacy of such a foolish belief. The temples of Angkor were built beginning in the year 1125 A.D. and were erected to celebrate the synchronization of Buddhism and Hinduism. TaProhm, one of the temples near Angkor Wat, very clearly has a carving of a Stegosaurus. This is clear evidence that at the time that the temples were built there were still dinosaurs in Cambodia. In the future we would like to develop more written materials in the Khmer language countering the false religion of Evolution. Please pray that this project will be used to cause Cambodian university students to doubt what they are being taught in regard to the origin of life and that it will ultimately be used by God to draw the lost to Him. If you would like to view the English version of the seminar that we translated you may do so at the following link. The link will take you to our Vimeo site. The seminar is about two hours long and deals with the age of the earth. https://vimeo.com/54781463
Gambling is a common site in Cambodia. Very seldom will young people even play a game of volleyball unless they place a wage. This picture of young children playing cards reminds us of the sad fact that many children in Southeast Asia have their innocence taken from them at a very young age. Yesterday I read a review on various churches in the country of Cambodia and those who performed the survey indicated that 2/3 of all churches in Cambodia do not have any type of outreach to children whatsoever. This is a sad and shocking statistic especially in light of the fact that 33% of the population is under the age of 15 years old. We are told that 54% of the population of Cambodia is under the age of 20 years old. From day one our church in Phnom Penh has had a vision to reach the children of Cambodia with the gospel. It is expensive, labor intensive, and often frustrating but it is something that is close to the heart of God. Matthew 19:14 “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” The goal is not to stop with the children, but to see the whole family come to Christ. We have seen a number of adults saved over the past two years as a direct result of the testimony of the children in the church.
Dary and Darian live across the street from our new church. They have been attending the Phnom Penh church for around six months. They have both been very faithful and their lives have been changed to the extent that their parents took note. In addition to Dary and Darian’s testimony at home, the parents have also been watching all of us as we have come and gone over the past several months. We are happy to report that Dary and Darian’s parents have recently been saved and are faithfully attending the church! Their mother, Rathana, remarked to one of the workers that she was very impressed with how some of our young people went out of their way to help her carry something heavy just weeks after we moved into our new building. She could not believe that someone from a Christian church would help her out even though she was a Buddhist and had shown no interest in even visiting the church. Please pray that this young family would be faithful to the Lord and that as they grow in their new faith they will become bold soul-winners.
As I have had opportunity over the past four months to report on the work among the Khmer and Cham people of Cambodia, I have shared that one of the goals for the ministry in 2013 is to begin a ministry reaching out to the Vietnamese who reside in Cambodia. Several months ago we identified two specific areas not far from Phnom Penh that had a sizeable Vietnamese population and began making some effort to meet people in one of those areas. Brother Bounna Has emailed me recently and told me that the two young Vietnamese ladies at the front of this photo were recently saved and that there are others who seem interested. He said that the teens and children seem very receptive to our workers and to the gospel. Please pray for a middle-aged Vietnamese man named Long who may be close to accepting Christ. The Vietnamese are a hated minority group in Cambodia and it is apparent that many who name the name of Christ in Cambodia have little, if any, interest in seeing them saved. We strongly believe that due to the ethnic make-up of our church (mixture of Khmer as well as many Cham) we are well suited to not only reach the Vietnamese with the gospel but to see them integrated into the Cambodian church as well. Please help us to pray toward that end.
Please continue to pray for the following villages where we presently have, at a minimum, organized weekly/twice-weekly meetings: Phnom Penh – Bung Salang, Stung Mein Jay, Prey Baang, Doonsi T’maw, Ongloung Knout, Prak Pnou, Tha Scoe.
Here is the link to a short video interview that I did with Missionary Chantha Chhim just before we left for furlough when he visited us in Phnom Penh with a group from the States. (I forgot to post it in September.) Chantha got saved and grew up at our home church in California. The Chhim family are now missionaries in Singapore. https://vimeo.com/50903070
We are happy to hear from you via email or via phone.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason