September 20, 2018
Things have been very busy here in Cambodia for the past several weeks and we have not taken the time to post any updates here on this blog. Of course, those of you who follow us on social media receive updates several times a week.
We started a new term in the Bible College this past week. We are so blessed to have the opportunity to invest in the lives of these young people. We believe that many of them will be used mightily here in this part of the world to see folks saved and new churches planted. PLEASE CONTINUE TO PRAY THAT THE STUDENTS WHO ARE PART OF PACIFIC BAPTIST BIBLE COLLEGE WILL BE FAITHFUL.
It was a great opportunity this past week for us to meet together with several of the couples who are serving together with us in the ministry. We were missing two of our key couples who were not able to make it for this meeting. We thank God for each one of these folks and the valuable contribution that they make to the work of the Lord here in Cambodia! PLEASE PRAY THAT WE WILL CONTINUE TO ENJOY THE UNITY THAT HAS ENABLED US TO MOVE FORWARD OVER THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS.
This past week we had the opportunity to shoot videos with three of our national leaders. We believe as this ministry is fine-tuned and developed it will be an effective tool to take the gospel to places where we may not be able to go. It will also be an effective way to disciple new believers in villages that are well beyond our capacity to plant churches in within the foreseeable future. Bro. Vong is greatly gifted in dealing with the technical aspects of this ministry and we thank God for the gifts that have been given. If it were all up to me we would be in trouble! PRAY THAT WE WILL BE ABLE TO DEVELOP THE MEDIA MINISTRY TO BECOME AN EFFECTIVE SOUL-WINNING AND DISCIPLESHIP TOOL.
As we stopped and posed with these children this past Sunday evening we were reminded that their time at church each week is likely the happiest time of the week for each of them. All of these children come from very challenging backgrounds. Thank you for helping them to have the opportunity to hear the gospel! PLEASE PRAY FOR THE CHILDREN OF BOEUNG SALANG TO BE SAVED. There are so many useless and destructive voices calling out for their attention and it is getting increasingly more difficult to reach them.
PLEASE PRAY FOR SEIYAK TO BE SAVED. Her daughter, Sopheap (on the left), and family were saved here at Pacific Baptist Church about 8 years ago and are faithful members. SeiYak lives in a village a couple of hours from the church but visited our midweek service. Many of us have spent hours with her in the past trying to help her see her need to be saved. As of right now she understands the gospel and her need for a personal Saviour. However, she is not yet willing to trust Jesus Christ as her Saviour because she knows that it will ostracize her from the rest of her children.
As we wrote about in our last update (https://goodnewsfromafar.com/2018/08/26/august-26-2018/) we are in the middle of a building program for the church in PsaTricht village. The national believers have sacrificially given in order to have a church building. Brother San, the national man who is leading that outreach, has done an amazing job in teaching and leading the folks to give of their Time, Talents, and Treasures in order to see this project go forward. So far there has not been any money from overseas raised for this building and we thank God for that! Our folks in Phnom Penh have also contributed through giving offerings as well as manual labor. I wanted to share one short testimony of one of the widow ladies in our church who sacrificially gave last week to help build the church building in PsaTricht.
We needed to raise the money for 24 pillars. The folks in PsaTricht were to give money to purchase 12 and we committed to purchase 12 here in Phnom Penh as well. Two weeks ago during the morning service in Phnom Penh I asked folks to raise their hand if they were willing to purchase one of the pillars. Each pillar is approximately $30. Debbie and I raised our hands first in order to set an example and committed to purchase two pillars. After that we had enough folks raise their hands that we had raised the amount we needed to raise in order to reach the commitment we had made to Brother San and our church family in PsaTricht. I gave the folks two weeks in order to place their commitments in the offering.
This past week one of the widow ladies came to our house four times in one day in order to get a chance to talk to me. On the fourth time she finally caught me. As we were exchanging small talk she handed me the $20 bill that you see in the picture. I asked her what it was for and she told me, “I want to have a part in helping build the building in PsaTricht.” She told me, “I didn’t have $30 to purchase a whole pillar and I didn’t dare raise my hand in front of everyone.” You should have seen the huge smile and look of joy on her countenance as she handed me the money! Here’s the amazing thing – She is without a doubt one of the poorest members of our church. I literally have no idea where she would have obtained $20 in order to give. For the past week my heart has been heavy every time I think about her love for the Lord and her desire to honor Him by giving what she can. I suspect that the blessing she received by giving from her poverty was much greater than the joy most of us receive when we give from our abundance.
We are presently (even as I write this update) in negotiations with a land owner to purchase this plot of land. A lot of time and effort by several of our men has gone into trying to locate a piece of land that will facilitate our current ministries as well as allow us to be able to grow. The rental prices here in the city are getting way out of control especially since the national elections. As we try and look toward the future, it is very evident that we are being squeezed out of the rental market and will likely face a significant problem when our current lease expires. Additionally, once our lease expires it will be very difficult to find a new landlord who is willing to allow a ministry of our size and scope to operate out of his property. We thank God for our current landlord who is a high ranking government official and who is a decent man. He has on several occasions helped to shelter us from certain situations that have taken place.
We think, by God’s grace, and with the help of some of our friends we will be able to afford to purchase this plot of land (.39 acres). It is located about 50 minutes from our current location which poses some significant challenges but also would strategically place us closer to many, many villages that are without even one gospel preaching church. I won’t go into detail here in this post but I anticipate updating many of you through our written prayer letter within in the next couple of months or so – after we have successfully obtained this land (or not)… Either way, relocation is something that we have all determined must take place. Our team and national folks will be sacrificially giving in order to see this land become our own. Once we own the land it will take a small miracle for us to be able to afford to build, as most of our resources and the resources of our national folks will be exhausted by the purchase of the land. PLEASE BEGIN PRAYING THAT GOD’S PERFECT WILL MAY BE EVIDENT AND THAT THE MONEY NECESSARY TO BUILD MIGHT BE PROVIDED THROUGH WHATEVER CHANNELS HE CHOOSES.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave & Debbie
August 26, 2018
We had a wonderful weekend of ministry here in Cambodia. Very early Saturday morning Debbie and I traveled to one of the village ministries to serve for the weekend. We normally go to this particular village one weekend a month.
This past December we lost the property that we were renting for the church because the owner wanted to sell it. Since then we have been meeting in a chicken coop. It is not ideal but it helps keep most of the rain and blazing sun off of the folks while they are at church.
We are always encouraged when we have the opportunity to be with the believers who are a part of this village outreach. Many of them have been saved out of Islam and have paid, and are paying, a high price because of their faithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our hearts were touched Sunday morning as we saw this little girl work her way through the congregation from where her parents were sitting in order to get a hug from her grandmother! I clearly remember the time when her parents were scared to tell Grandma that they had become Christians because they knew that she would be very angry. Now she is a joyful Christian who is living for the Lord and praying for her husband to be saved! Thank God for the power of the gospel.
Several weeks ago we began building a church building on some property just outside of the Muslim village. Most of the project thus far has been funded by the national believers. We are taking it step by step. It is an amazing thing to see the men, women, and even young children each doing their part and laboring in the hot sun in order to have a building where the church can meet. Please help pray for this building project as it is very labor intensive. Everything is being done by hand without the benefit of many of the modern means we might use in the first world.
Here is a short video update I shot in the village this morning. In the video you can see the folks working on the foundation of the building – bucket by bucket. You will notice Binya, who photo-bombed our video 🙂 He is a joyful young man, and who knows, maybe he will become the pastor of this village church one day…
This evening we had a wonderful service in Phnom Penh. It was our last summer Family Night for the year. We were all encouraged through the fellowship, testimonies, singing, and the preaching of the Word of God by one of our national men. This was Jason’s first time to lead the singing for our Sunday night service. He did a great job!
We are blessed by these four young adults who will begin studying in the Bible college in September. Each of them were saved through the soul-winning efforts of our church folks. All four of them are faithfully serving in our various village outreaches, soul-winning, and children’s ministries. I recently met with one of them as they sought counsel regarding their future. My heart was broken as I heard of the stand they are taking for the Lord and the ridicule and pressure they are facing from their unsaved family. I don’t know very many young people (from saved or unsaved families) in America who would joyfully sit in front of their pastor and with tears streaming down their face say that they don’t believe God desires for them to accept the full scholarship they have been offered to study in secular university because they believe He is calling them to attend Bible college so that they can more effectively reach their own people with the gospel. Indeed, our responsibility before God to young people like her is great. We believe that it is the responsibility of the local church to disciple new believers and so it is a responsibility that we gladly bear. We ask you to continue to pray for our team as well as for the students who are being discipled through Pacific Baptist Bible College.
In closing, we are drawing closer to the time when we need to make some decisions regarding whether the Lord would have us to begin a Christian school in order to assist the parents in our ministries in the training of their children. This is a heavy burden on the hearts of many of the young couples who have been saved here at Pacific Baptist Church of Cambodia. There are so many factors involved in making this decision. Please help us pray for the following specific requests that pertain to starting a school:
1) For a qualified national from our church to be called by God to help lead the school
2) Continued desire on the part of the parents to see their young children protected from the evil influences that permeate many of the schools
3) Proper facilities for our Phnom Penh church that will not only accommodate the congregation for public services but will also allow us to start a Christian school that will be licensed and legal to operate in this country
We are presently in the process of looking for land and praying for God’s direction. Whether or not we start a school, we are going to need to make a move in just over a year or so that is well beyond our own capacity to make. Rental prices are going through the roof and we are going to be in trouble when our lease is up this next year. Likewise, land prices are ridiculously high and not within our reach in the city. We are currently looking at some locations on the outskirts of Phnom Penh that would perhaps be a bit more affordable but will still require God’s provision.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave & Debbie
August 12, 2018
We had an awesome Celebration Service this morning with around 350 of our folks in attendance. I’m always amazed to see how many people willingly devote so much time into making the service run smoothly. We thank God for the host of national folks who love the Lord and joyfully do their part to make it happen for God’s glory!
Please click on the video below to watch an interview I did with a pastor from the States as well as to hear a sample of some of the singing from this morning’s service!
It was a joy for us to see more than 20 folks follow the Lord in Believer’s Baptism this morning. For some of these new believers it will be the beginning of persecution by family members and others who hate them for their decision to become a Christian. Please pray for the new believers to remain strong in the Lord.
It’s a great blessing to report to you that Narun trusted Christ this past week! He is a product of the outreach in Ondong village. His wife, Sokum, was saved a couple of months ago and was baptized this morning. Lord willing, Narun will follow the Lord in Believer’s Baptism next month. Pray for Narun and Sokhom to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ly is the husband and father of several of our members. He attended the service this morning but is not yet saved. Several of us have dealt with him for extended periods of time to answer his questions and I believe that he is clear on his need for a personal Saviour and is counting the cost of becoming a Christian. Please pray that Ly will be saved soon.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave & Debbie
July 23, 2018
Here is a video interview we did this morning with Brother Mike West. In this video he is sharing some insight on what he has witnessed while visiting us here on the mission field.
We had great services at each of the locations this weekend but we especially enjoyed our Family Night last night here at church. It was wonderful to see everyone enjoying the events that were planned as well as listening intently as the Word of God was preached.
Lakhena recently accepted Jesus as her personal Saviour. Yesterday morning we presented her with a new Bible during the morning service because she completed the 100 question booklet from the Gospel of Mark. Pray that Lakhena will get grounded in the Word of God and get planted in the life of the church.
Srey Nith also received a new Bible after completing the questions on the Book of Mark. She is friends with a couple of the girls in the picture and they were instrumental in helping to bring her to the Lord. Sadly, this week her family is moving her to a village that is far from here and she will no longer have the opportunity to be a part of our church. She has such a sweet spirit as a new Christian and we hope and pray that she will continue to walk with the Lord. It’s a story that’s repeated too often here in Cambodia: young people get saved and then a short time later their parents force them to move away. Most of the time we never see them again. We can only hope that there will one day be a solid church planted in their village.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave & Debbie
July 15, 2018
Here is a video we shot yesterday morning while out making some visits on some of our members. Please help pray regarding the things I discuss in the video.
We had wonderful services this morning here in Phnom Penh. It was a blessing to have two unsaved visitors in our midst. One of them, a teen young lady, accepted Christ as her Saviour this afternoon while at one of the church member’s homes. The other visitor is a young man who has been affiliated with Catholicism for several years and is a little confused about the authority of the Bible and the necessity to trust Jesus alone for salvation. Today was his second week in a row to visit. He is the student of a university professor, Tara, who is a part of our church. The young man respects the testimony that Tara has at the university and is therefore wanting to know more about what has changed Tara from a superstitious, materialistic, and conceited man to a humble, patient, and loving Christian man. Pray for Tara and his family as they continue to witness to the young man and to many others within their sphere of influence.
It was a blessing for us to present Nita with a new Bible this morning. Nita studies English at the local high school with NeyNey. In fact, they have been friends for awhile. NeyNey has been witnessing to her and a couple of weeks ago she accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Saviour. She immediately desired to have a Bible and so she began diligently working to complete a Bible study booklet based upon the Book of Mark. She answered approximately 100 questions and earned her new Bible! From the time that she got saved until the time she completed answering the questions was about two weeks! Pray for NeyNey and Nita as they both strive to be a shining light for the Lord at their high school.
It was a great blessing to walk around and observe the young people running our Phnom Penh Children’s Ministry today. Each of these young people were saved here at the church and are devoting their lives to help make a difference in the lives of others. Pov, the young man in the purple shirt, is helping to prepare some snacks for the children to take home after their class is over. Jason is preaching for the teen service.
Setian has been diligently learning how to play the guitar and plays for the teen service nearly every week. NeyNey, in the middle, is teaching the children ages 4-7. SreyNak is writing out the Scripture verse for the children ages 8-11 to memorize.
It is our privilege this week to host Bro. LeLeaux and Bro. West as they are here visiting us from the States. These two men have been a great blessing and encouragement to our home church over the past several years and we are thrilled that they have come to see firsthand some of the things that God is doing here in Cambodia.
Grandma Thul was saved several years ago but is housebound due to poor health. If I remember correctly she has only had the opportunity to be at church perhaps once over the past three years. She lives in a second floor apartment and is unable to safely navigate the stairs anymore. Debbie and I had the chance to visit with her yesterday and encourage her in the Lord. She loves to listen to preaching on the mp3 player that she is borrowing from the church.
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit and fellowship with Grandma Pana for about an hour or so. She was saved out of Islam and the occult. Since she has been saved it is a very rare thing to see her without a huge smile on her face. She showed me her Bible and spoke of her love for the Word of God. Though she has only been saved a few short years, her Bible is well worn. It is evident that she uses it quite often. She told me, “If I go for one day without reading my Bible, I don’t feel right in my heart. I must read it everyday or I feel like there is something missing in my day.” No wonder she has such a great smile on her face and joy in her heart!
These three older men were all saved through the ministry here. Before salvation, Ta Ai was drunk 24 hours a day and had lived as a drunkard for decades. Now he is sober and in his right mind. He’s in church nearly every time the doors are open. SeangHi heard the gospel from missionaries before the fall of Cambodia back in 1975 but was never truly saved until recently. It has been a blessing to see that he began tithing several months ago.
Ta Sokrut taught Khmer Literature for 40 years at the university level. He is a highly educated and cultured man. For years he sought to know who God was, but he would be continually disappointed as he only found man-made religions that promoted idol worship and a structure of hierarchy that promoted man. Two years ago he was saved as the workers who are a part of the outreach in StungMeanChey met him and patiently explained the gospel to him. For the past two years he has faithfully attended church, participated in door-to-door soul-winning, and become a real student of the Word of God.
Several days ago he became ill and is now bedridden and drifting in and out of consciousness. It is very likely that he will be going to Heaven soon. We had the opportunity to be with him for awhile yesterday morning, as well as speak with his adult children. His children are not saved and, in fact, have persecuted him because of his faith in Jesus Christ. However, yesterday they were forced to admit that their father truly believes in Jesus Christ and has a solid testimony that the Lord has changed his life. We don’t know what the future holds but we know that Sokrut loves the Lord and is burdened for his children to be saved. Please pray that Sokrut will be healed if it is God’s will and that his children will come to know the Lord through this situation.
So much of the ministry here in Cambodia would come to an abrupt halt tomorrow if there were not single young ladies who loved the Lord and were willing to invest in His work! SreyNich and Nisa (left hand side) spent several hours making a fried dessert for the entire church on Saturday evening. They are both involved in numerous ministries here at the church that touch the lives of others and it’s a blessing to see them investing their single years in things that will reap eternal rewards.
Miss Grace, Michelle, and Susanna are a huge blessing. As single-lady missionaries they do on a regular basis some things that many men I know might not be willing to do. They are all three great examples to the national young people of purity and godliness and we thank God for them! If you’re looking for someone to bless this Christmas they would be a great choice!
The outreach to Ondong Village, located about 40 minutes from our Phnom Penh location, continues to go forward. Twice each week a team of workers travels there to disciple the new believers, go soul-winning, hold children’s services, and hold services for the adults.
This past Tuesday evening we had a fellowship with several of the adults who have been saved and who desire to grow in the Lord. We met in the food court of a shopping mall. After having dinner together I challenged them from the Word of God with some daily habits that they need to firmly establish in their lives if they are going to grow to be the Christian that God has called them to be. Bro. Vannak heads up the Ondong outreach and he is doing a wonderful job. It is a blessing to serve alongside a national man who is burdened to see the gospel reach his people. Please help pray for Vannak and his wife, Samantha, to continue to have wisdom, strength, God-given vision, and a happy marriage as they serve the Lord.
Leak and Pisey were both reached with the gospel through the outreach in Ondong. We have all grown to love them and desire to see them make it for the Lord. They are going through a huge trial right now as Leak has a type of blood cancer. They are in and out of the hospital on a regular basis and each time it totally drains them of all their finances. Several of us have helped and continue to help with their medical bills in order to try and get him the help that he needs. This picture was taken Tuesday evening at the fellowship – Wednesday morning he was admitted into the emergency room and, even as I write this update, is near the point of death. Yesterday Vannak and I went to the hospital to encourage Pisey. Our hearts truly go out to her and all of the other families who have loved ones in the emergency room. Pisey has literally slept on the sidewalk every night outside of the room where her husband is laying. She told us that the mosquitoes are so bad at night that none of them can sleep. Of course we told her that she is very welcome to come stay at the church or in our apartment with our family but she let us know that if she leaves for even a short time there is no one to take care of her husband as he requires several things to be done for him constantly. (In this part of the world there are not enough medical personnel in most hospitals to take care of non- medically related tasks such as feeding and things related to caring for regular bodily functions.) Words definitely can’t describe the spirit that we felt as we stood in the emergency room next to Leak’s bed. He is in a room with approximately 20 other patients and their families. There is such a look of hopelessness on the faces of patients and family alike. Privacy is non-existent. We fully expect that Leak will pass away any moment now. Please pray for Pisey to remain strong in the Lord as she will likely soon become a single mother to three children.
We wanted to at least show you Sokhom’s picture. I will not take time in this update to share her testimony. Lord willing, we can do that at a later time. Sokhom was saved through the outreach in Ondong. Prior to her salvation she was drunk most of the time and not a real nice person to be around. She now has the joy of the Lord in her heart and has not touched alcohol since being saved! No doubt the change that has taken place in her life is seen by everyone in the village. Please pray for her husband, Naruth, to be saved.
SreyGe accepted Christ when she was a young teenager attending our Phnom Penh Children’s Ministry. However, due to pressure from her unsaved family members, she began working on Sunday and got out of church and away from regular fellowship with God’s people. As we would all be prone to do, she began living a life that was not honoring to the Lord and she married a non-believer. Ever since that time her life has been very difficult. Last year she moved to Ondong Village. Once Bro. Vannak and the workers began going to her village a few months ago, she began responding to the Holy Spirit’s working in her life and has returned to once again seek to live a life that is honoring to the Lord. Pray for SreyGe as she submits to the Lord and allows her light to shine in her very dark village. Nat is her husband and ChanNy is her mother. Neither one of them are saved but they both joined in the meeting on Tuesday evening. Pray for Nat and ChanNy to be saved. Nat clearly understands the gospel but he is allowing his love for sin and his desire for popularity with his “friends” to keep him from coming to God.
Ya is a lady who, humanly speaking, might have cause to frown. However, she is filled with the joy of the Lord! She was saved out of Islam and has undergone a lot of persecution but she continues to allow the joy of the Lord to be her strength. After the preaching a couple of weeks ago she came up to me laughing and said, “Pastor, you preached for an hour and fifteen minutes but it seemed like only a few minutes!” She has the same hunger and love for the Word of God that so many of our people have. They don’t come to church hoping that the preaching will be “short and sweet” so that they can get to the restaurant and eat lunch or get home to watch the ball game… Their example is a rebuke to much of the lukewarm “Christianity” that sadly seems to be prevalent in so many churches in the west. What a pleasure it is for our family and our team to serve alongside folks such as Ya!
Samnang came to know Christ through the outreach in StungMeanChey. He is a young man who has a pretty difficult life but who, since getting saved, almost always has a huge smile on his face. Last night he texted me at 9:30 p.m. to ask for the link to a video our church made several years ago entitled “A Letter from Hell.” It is a tool that we often use when seeking to share the gospel with someone who has a hard heart. It is also a great wake-up call to Christians who are ashamed of the gospel. I asked him what he was doing at 9:30 p.m. and he told me that he was at his friends house witnessing to them! He then asked me to pray that his friends, Dara and Vutha, would be saved. Samnang is a faithful young man and we expect God to use him greatly to reach his own people as he grows in the Lord. Pray for Samnang to remain faithful.
It has been a great pleasure for us to have Sareth and Vorn visiting here from Long Beach for the past 4 months. They are in the process of making arrangements to return here permanently after the first of the year. We had them over to our home for dinner this past week and while they were here I pulled out old prayer letters that we had written back in 1992 when we first met them in Long Beach. You remember 1992 — back when all we had was a dot matrix printer… They were both happy to see several letters that we wrote back in the 90’s asking for folks to pray that they would be saved. Then once the Lord allowed us to lead them to Christ we continued to write of them on a regular basis as we introduced their family members who needed to be saved or who had just accepted Christ. Sareth and Vorn both love the Lord and expressed to me very clearly their intent to return here and work alongside of our team and the nationals as we win folks to the Lord, make disciples, and plant churches here in this needy part of the world. It will be a great joy to once again serve alongside of this great couple! Pray for Sareth and Vorn to be able to tie up all their loose ends in Long Beach and make a smooth transition back here to Cambodia.
It was a great joy for our family to spend a day together with some of the team at a hotel outside of town. We have been blessed with some awesome co-laborers whom we consider to be family. Pray for us to have wisdom as we lead the team and continue to forge into new territory for the glory of God and His fame among the people of this land.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave & Debbie
June 25, 2018
We had a packed house this past Sunday morning here in Phnom Penh! The spirit was great and the congregation paid great attention as the Word of God was preached. I preached on the topic of our victory in Christ over the devil. Thank God for the power of the gospel that not only softens hard hearts and saves souls but also protects from the evil one who has reigned as the god of this part of the world for thousands of years.
This summer we have decided to have “family nights” one Sunday evening a month. In addition to having a normal time of testimonies, singing, and the preaching of the Word of God, we also have a time of fellowship through competition. Afterwards we all enjoy snacks together. It was a wonderful blessing to hear various testimonies from the folks of how God is working in their lives.
This past week we took 13 of our Bible College students on a week long missions trip to the Thai border. You can get a glimpse of what the trip was like by watching the three videos below as well as reading the short summaries. We are so thankful for the students’ burden to see their country reached with the gospel. PLEASE CONTINUE TO PRAY THAT THE BIBLE COLLEGE STUDENTS WILL REMAIN OPEN AND TENDER TO THE CALL OF GOD IN REGARD TO THEIR FUTURE SERVICE FOR HIM.
The purpose of this trip was to expose our Bible college students to many villages that are without any gospel witness. They were able to see many villages with hundreds of families, but that have no gospel preaching church. In this picture the students are praying on top of a famous shrine that the gospel will go forth throughout their country with great power.
It was our privilege to be able to spend some time with these three men who are serving in Cambodia not far from the Thai border. Brother Michi, on the left, is the fruit of Baptist missionaries who went to Japan 50 years ago and reached his father and father-in-law with the gospel. After our students interviewed him, we challenged them to realize that their faithfulness to the Lord and to the gospel will result in others serving the Lord many years from now.
The two gentlemen on the right are both national pastors who were reached with the gospel by missionaries here in Cambodia several years ago. Our students were greatly challenged by their testimonies and their example. We look forward to perhaps doing some future ministry with these men.
Our students were also challenged by the example of Jennifer, a single lady missionary serving here in Cambodia all alone. She does her best to reach ladies and children but I know that it is very difficult for her at times. After arriving on the field several years ago, she met another single Filipina who now works alongside of her. Jennifer’s family was reached a number of years ago by a Baptist missionary family who brought the gospel to their small island in the Philippines. Again, our students were challenged to have a long-term vision of how God wants to use them to win souls and make disciples, realizing that their faithfulness now will result in many being saved in years to come.
For two days of the trip our college students were privileged to help run the Children’s ministry outreaches alongside of Jennifer. It was great to see our young people showing love and compassion to some of the poorest children in this country.
The young ladies led in singing and games then the young men preached to the children. I know that it was a blessing for the children in these remote villages to have the opportunity to meet Christian Cambodian young adults. I’m confident that the vast majority of them had never met a Cambodian adult who was a Christian. We are thankful for Jennifer’s willingness to allow our students the opportunity to serve.
One of the highlights for our students was the opportunity to cross over into Thailand and meet Cambodian nationals who live and work on the Thai side of the border. One afternoon Debbie and I crossed the border along with Michelle, one of the single lady missionaries from our home church who is serving on the team. We had the opportunity to hand out many gospel tracts to the Cambodians living in the shacks pictured above. I believe that we only met perhaps one or two folks who had ever even heard the name of Jesus Christ. We were quickly spotted by these young Cambodian boys. From the point they met us until we crossed back over into Cambodia they followed us around wherever we went. It was evident that they were starved for attention. Their families make barely enough money to survive. A couple of the boys were fairly transparent with us about their living conditions and some of the fears they face on a daily basis as non-documented aliens residing in Thailand. I believe that our college students were greatly impacted by seeing their own people living in a foreign land and especially by the fact that they have no access to the gospel.
I had the opportunity to meet these two men while we were visiting an ancient Buddhist temple and shrine. The man on the left had evidently heard the gospel 40 years ago through French speaking missionaries here in Cambodia. However, he is very confused about the Bible and his need for a personal Saviour. The monk on the right patiently listened as I shared the gospel with him. I could tell by the look in his eyes that he was really thinking about the things I was telling him. Sadly we were only in that area for a brief time and were unable to do more than give a cursory explanation of the gospel and of our inability to merit eternal life. As I departed from him I placed my hand on his shoulder and he immediately reached out to hold my arm as we took a picture together.
This morning in our Christian Family class in the Bible college I taught about the importance of physical touch within the family. We discussed how that many times when we are presenting the gospel here we will place our hand on the lost person’s shoulder or arm as a gesture of affection. I then showed the students this picture – when they saw this monk actually responding to my touch, it moved some of them to tears. I suppose that they had not imagined that a monk has real emotions just like everyone else, and though he is steeped in religious ritual, at the end of the day he is without Christ and without hope.
While on the trip we were able to teach the students about many things. One of the things they learned was how that the national religion of Buddhism in this country is actually a fusion of Buddhism, Hinduism, as well as animism (spiritism) and the occult. These two pictures represent some of the superstitious beliefs that are not actually part of the Buddhist religion, but that are widely accepted here. The picture on the left depicts their belief that all those who commit serious sins will one day go to hell where they will have to give answer to the “King of Hell.” After that, they will be tortured for the sins they have committed. Of course, this belief is a perversion of the truth – the Bible clearly teaches us that those who die and go to hell will face the eternal wrath of God and not the anger of the devil. The picture on the right is of a shrine that is greatly revered. It is believed by many who live in that area that the spirit of a woman who died many years ago indwells this shrine and provides protection for those who are willing to sacrifice to her. I spoke with a man at the shrine who is firmly convinced that this shrine has supernatural powers and that, in fact, those powers healed his sick child after he made the required sacrifices.
While visiting the border and speaking with many folks who live in remote villages, we were reminded of 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 which says, “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.”
Thank you for praying for the walls of darkness to be torn down and for the power of the gospel to go forth as we strive to make the gospel known in some of the darkest places on this planet.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave & Debbie
May 21, 2018
This past week we conducted our second annual Family Camp. It was a great blessing that 199 of our folks were able to make time in their schedule as well as pay the required fees in order to attend the four day camp. It is very difficult to find facilities that will accommodate a group this size here in this country. Bro. Has and several of our national men worked very hard to find a venue as well as organize the housing, meals, and transportation.
In addition to having combined sessions in the main auditorium, we had some split teaching sessions that were divided according to life stages. It was a blessing for me to be able to teach the sessions for the married couples and to see their hunger to learn everything they can about how God desires for them to lead their families. Our second session together went over by thirty minutes as they had several questions relating to my lesson dealing with the principles of “first-time obedience” and the importance of breaking your child’s will but not their spirit. These two principles are unheard of in this culture, and so, of course, the couples never saw them modeled in their own homes growing up; therefore, they struggle to know how to effectively live them out in the day-to-day life of their family. But by God’s grace, we are seeing many of the couples not just learn Biblical principles but also seek to live them out.
Debbie had the opportunity to teach a session for the ladies. I have no idea what she taught but many of the ladies shared testimonies this weekend about how much they enjoyed her session. Several of them remarked that it was the session that benefited them the most.
While Debbie was teaching the ladies, Jason ran the children’s service along with a couple of national workers that he recruited to help him. I was in and out of that session but it was a blessing to hear him teach them about Samuel and the importance of obeying the Biblical authorities that God has placed in our lives.
For me one of the great blessings of the camp this year was seeing so many people enjoying fellowship together. When we are in our regular daily schedules it is often difficult to find the time to just sit down and spend time together. It seems that several of our young men are working hard to learn how to play the guitar. I was so happy to see the way that Setien is growing in the Lord and in his confidence to joyfully mix with others. I remember how timid he was when he first began coming to church around seven years ago. However, in recent months he seems to be really growing in the Lord as well as in his ability to socialize with others. I believe that his involvement in helping to lead one of our Phnom Penh Children’s Ministry classes is really helping him to develop, as well as the individual attention that he is getting from Bro. Vannak during our Saturday evening teen boys discipleship. Before he was saved Setien’s father, Sinath, used to play the guitar for the world. In fact, by his own testimony, the lifestyle that he lived during those years nearly blew apart his marriage. I know that it is a great blessing for him to see that Setien is musically gifted by the Lord and that he is using his gift to bring honor to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Socheat and SreyLeak are wonderful examples of the grace of God. We all were touched to hear Socheat sharing of the changes that have taken place in his life since salvation. This young couple has undergone great trials with the health of their young son, Heng. In fact, as I am writing this update Heng is back in the hospital again. PLEASE HELP PRAY FOR HENG TO BE HEALED FROM THE RESPIRATORY PROBLEMS HE IS HAVING. LIKEWISE PLEASE PRAY FOR SOCHEAT AND SREYLEAK TO CONTINUE TO TRUST THE LORD. The enemy is working overtime right now to try and discourage them both.
As you may recall from previous posts, Voeuth was saved while incarcerated in a province quite far from Phnom Penh. She came to understand her need for a personal Saviour when a national Cambodian pastor made a visit to the prison to hold a Bible study with the inmates. As he left the property a tract fell out of his Bible. Voeuth saw the tract and tried to return it to him but he had already passed through the gate and she was unable to reach him. She read the tract and understood the gospel and accepted Christ. The tract that fell out of the man’s Bible was a tract from our church! We still have no idea who the man was but we definitely know that his visit to the prison was a divine appointment for Voeuth. She promised the Lord that once she was released she would call the phone numbers on the tract and travel wherever she needed to go in order to learn more about the Bible and her new life in the Lord. She kept her word and several months later she had served her time and was released. She traveled to Phnom Penh and was with us for a few weeks. During that time she was baptized as well as spent time with some of our ladies learning the Word of God. She then returned to her village far from here and is to the best of her ability living for the Lord. It was a great blessing to see the amount of effort she put forth in order to join with us for family camp. PLEASE HELP PRAY THAT HER FAMILY WILL COME TO CHRIST. To my knowledge she is the only believer in her village.
Hem and Som are wonderful testimonies of the power of the gospel! Many of you will recall hearing of their story when we were in the States last year and spoke in your church. For many years Hem was tormented with demonic oppression as well as occasional possession. I won’t go into detail about their entire testimony here, but in order to find relief from the evil powers that controlled their family, Som went from witch doctor to witch doctor seeking help. She traveled from village to village begging anyone who claimed to have the power to cast out demons to help her. Of course she only met charlatans who made their living through capitalizing on the fears of people like Som and Hem. With each ceremony and ritual that was performed came increased fees which eventually left the family bankrupt. After selling all their livestock and land they were left with nothing but emptiness, poverty, hopelessness, and dismay that their religion offered them no true answers. One day Som heard that there were folks in a nearby village who were set free from the power of darkness by trusting in Jesus Christ. To make a long story short, she was saved through their testimony and example. Several months later Hem was saved as well. The radical change that took place in his life after salvation was definitely indisputable and caused his fellow Muslim villagers to take note. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 While the majority of the village still hates Christianity and shuns the believers, they stand in amazement at the new man that Hem has become in Christ. Though we do believe in and practice door-to-door soul-winning, the most powerful soul-winning is not done through cold calls door-to-door. The most powerful soul-winning is done through the radical change that takes place in the life of a new believer once they are saved! Matthew 5:16 commands believers to let their light so shine before men [specifically the lost], in such a way that the world will come to glorify God. The only way that a lost man can truly glorify God is by being saved. Som and Hem are living a life that is shining brightly in their dark village. While their Muslim neighbors are not yet willing to turn to God from the idols they have erected within their hearts and in front of their homes, they are certainly confronted with the truth that, in Christ, Hem is a new man. The change is undeniable.
During our family camp I had the opportunity to sit down with “Mr. L” and answer some of his questions regarding salvation. Bro. San and several others have faithfully witnessed to him over this past year and it seems that he truly understands the gospel and his need for a personal Saviour. The singular thing that has brought him to the point of being willing to speak with us is the example of Hem and Som after they were saved. For many years “Mr. L” had seen the chaos and insanity that controlled Hem and his family due to the influence of the demons. For the past year he has been watching Hem and is so amazed that he is now in his right mind, living in peace with his family and the community, and a zealous servant of Jesus Christ. The thing that is holding “Mr. L” back from being saved is his fear regarding the persecution and shunning that will automatically take place toward him by the Muslims in the village once he turns to the true and living God. PLEASE PRAY FOR MR. L TO YIELD TO THE CONVICTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN HIS LIFE AND BE SAVED.
We are very blessed to see what God is doing in the lives of the folks who have been saved through the outreach in Romdeng village located in northern Cambodia near the Thai border. VanThy and Channy continue to let their light shine in that very dark and spiritually impoverished village. Each week our workers and the nationals from the village who have accepted Christ meet in VanThy’s home for services. PLEASE HELP PRAY THAT GOD WILL RAISE UP A YOUNG MAN/COUPLE FROM WITHIN ROMDENG WHO GETS SAVED AND WHO IS QUALIFIED TO BE TRAINED TO TAKE THE SPIRITUAL OVERSIGHT OF THE OUTREACH IN ROMDENG.
It was a great privilege for us to hear Sophean share her testimony of salvation during our family conference. Sophean was led to Christ by Makara and Michelle as well as the influence of others who live in Romdeng village. She is part of an unreached ethnic minority group here in Cambodia known as the Kuy. There are approximately 38,000 Kuy living in Cambodia and according to recent statistics only about .53% of them are “evangelical” Christians. Romdeng and some of the surrounding villages is where the majority of the Kuy people are living in Cambodia. Among the group of folks who have come to Christ through our outreach in Romdeng, several of them are Kuy. They have their own distinct language and culture but, from our experience, most of them are conversant in Khmer as well. Several folks have come to Christ through Sophean’s example and we believe that as she continues to grow many more of her people will be saved. PLEASE HELP PRAY A HEDGE OF PROTECTION AROUND SOPHEAN AND THE OTHER KUY FOLKS WHO HAVE BEEN SAVED OVER THE PAST YEAR.
Tin was saved through the outreach in Romdeng village. Bro. Bounna, Bro. Keo, and others spent a lot of time over many weeks witnessing to him and answering his questions regarding Jesus Christ and the Bible. It was a blessing to see Tin enjoying family camp. It has his first time to join together with our folks from Phnom Penh.
When Tin returned to Romdeng he was excited about living for the Lord and about winning the lost in his village to Christ. He had been witnessing to Chanta for many weeks but he seemed to have a renewed zeal to see him saved once he returned from family camp to his village. Thankfully this past week Tin was able to lead Chanta to the Lord! PLEASE PRAY FOR TIN TO HAVE WISDOM AS HE WILL HELP TO DISCIPLE THIS YOUNG BELIEVER IN THE WORD OF GOD. Chanta is engaged to be married to Tin’s niece.
Traveling to Romdeng is not for the faint of heart! This past week our folks got stuck in the flood waters that covered the road as they tried to make it there from Phnom Penh. It’s great to see their huge smiles regardless of the fact that they are standing in filthy, disease-infested water.
Please continue to pray for the outreach in Ondong village located about 45 minutes from the church in Phnom Penh. Every Thursday and Sunday workers go there to spread the gospel as well as disciple those who have been saved. This past Sunday we had 7 adults from the village in the adult service that is held in one of their homes there in Ondong. Srey Ge was saved several years ago through our Phnom Penh Children’s Ministry and now lives in Ondong. Her sister, Pisay, is not yet saved but seems to be very close. PLEASE PRAY FOR PISAY AND HER HUSBAND, LIEK, TO BE SAVED. Liek was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer.
One of the positive consequences of having a church with a good number of young married couples is that we have many young children. It seems that many of the parents are coming to the conviction that they are responsible to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and that part of their responsibility in protecting them from the evil influences is to take stronger oversight of their education. There is starting to be a lot of talk among the couples of the need to have a Christian school where their children can be shielded from the filth that today’s unsaved young people have fully embraced. They are starting to take note of the detrimental effects of much of the social media that has now fully permeated the society here from the city all the way out to the remotest village. There are so many details that must come together if we are to start a Christian school. PLEASE PRAY THAT GOD WILL GIVE DIRECTION AND WISDOM REGARDING DETAILS RELATED TO STARTING A CHRISTIAN SCHOOL FOR THE BENEFIT OF OUR CORE FAMILIES.
This picture has no particular reason for being posted other than that we think Mary is adorable, and since she’s our adopted granddaughter, I had no choice but to post it. 🙂
Because of God’s grace,
Dave & Debbie