Keep Sowing the Seed

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So Sarak, tell me about your childhood, how was it growing up?

I am 30 years old and originally come from Kandal Province. I was born into a big family of 10. My mother, father, 5 brothers and 3 sisters; of which I am the middle child. My family was always quite poor, my mother worked as a rice farmer and my father as a fisherman. Because my family was big, as a child, me and my siblings were split in half, some stayed with my mother and some with my auntie. This meant that I lived with my auntie for a few years as they didn’t have any children of their own.   I know this was a big sacrifice for my parents but they wanted my siblings and I to be well cared for.

At the age of 7, I started primary school, I went to school in the afternoon and helped my family look after the cows in the mornings. Often when I arrived home from school my parents would still be working, so I would go and help them. I walked to and from school and it was really far.  In school we learnt Khmer and a little bit of English. It was at this age when I heard about Jesus for the first time. Every week there was a kid’s club that would come to my village, I really enjoyed what they taught us about Jesus, and it grew inside my heart. Near my home there was also a Korean church that spoke English, so I went along because they taught me English for free and my family could not afford extra English classes at school.

 

As you became a teenager how did things change for you?

As a 13-year-old boy I loved sports; I played ping pong, badminton and football a lot with the youth group at the Korean Church. I started to spend my time at church instead of school. At school I was laughed at because I was not good at English, my clothes were always messy and my hair quite scraggly. I found the church a safe place where I was not laughed at and they could take care of me, instead of my parents because they did not have the time. Instead of school I would go to church then look after the cows every day.

 

When was it that you came to the city, Phnom Penh?

At 16-years-old I was introduced to an organisation teaching hygiene who asked me to work with them for 3 months.  During this time I began to get a real foundation in the Christian faith. They taught me so much about God and what it meant to live a Christian life. I shared a bicycle with my friend so I would ride across the city on the handle bars to go for guitar lessons, learning chords and how to read music.  

It was at this time my boss told me “God has called you to do something special”.  Because I had not heard God speak to me before, I was confused about how God spoke to her and she would know this about my future. At this time I was asked to be a permanent member of  staff. I worked for this organisation for 2 ½ years, I earned a lot of money, not too much, but because I was from a poor family this was so much for me! I was gifted a motorbike and as my salary started to come in, I stopped going to church and spent my time with friends. Because of this I quit my job because it was no longer my passion and I got involved in things that were not good.

Life was hard for a number of years, I had no education, no skills and my future didn’t look good at all.  I eventually went to my brother who was living in the city and I started to help out at his motorbike shop where I worked cleaning and fixing bikes. For 2 ½ years I didn’t go to church, and I had little money to buy food for myself. I became really malnourished. People called my Mr Crab because I was skinny and my eyes popped out.  I didn’t go home to my family as I felt I had disapppointed them and I wasn’t able to provide for myself or help support my parents.

How did you find Elim after all of this?

I was found by Chamnap and Nita from working in the motorbike shop.  They told me they were Christians and I started going to church and would play the guitar each week.  I would walk a long way from the motorbike shop to Elim early in the morning because I was so eager to be there. I used my walking time to pray to God.

I was also teaching a guitar class and this is where I met my wife Sophea.  After sharing with her about Jesus, she accepted God and a few years later we got married.

I then began to work at an organisation called Destiny Rescue.  For 3 years I helped with running Kids clubs, teaching classes, buyng food for their lunches and driving a tuk-tuk. I was asked by Chamnap if I wanted a job working with him at Hagar,  I became a special needs teacher and working with community outreach in 2013.

So, when did you start working for Elim?

As Elim grew I became the youth leader on a voluntary basis and then in 2014 I was asked to join the team in a paid position.  Part of my role included running the youth, serving in the church and being mentored by David and Chamnap.  

David asked what I really wanted to do in my role in Elim. I told him, my mother and father that I wanted to start a kids club in my home where I grew up. This was difficult because my parents weren’t Christians.  The first Happy Kids Club was launched and a few years later the first church in the province was planted.  My mother came to the Lord after asking for healing and my father also became a Christian shortly after this. They were both baptised along with others from their community.  They are key members of the church held at their home and have been instrumental in teaching their neighbours about Jesus.

What are you currently doing Sarak?

Now, I am leader of the church planting team and a pastor at Elim Phnom Penh, I am a counsellor for the church and the staff at Elim. My responsibilities include looking after the city church and  I am a co-worker to David and Chamnap. I am still involved with my home town and the ministry there.

Now I have a very beautiful wife and 2 children Harry 3 ½ and Jonny 1 ½. I love having 2 boys because I want to see my boys become men of God, clever and strong in their own ways. I want my Elim family to help them grow to.

Psalm 34:5 “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame”. My journey has taught me to consistently look towards God and He will take me where I need to go and I will see many things happen with him.

What are you excited about and looking forward to?

The growth of the city church, I want the church to be the centre of everything that provides resources,  a place for study, and accommodation for those who don’t have. I want the church to be like an octopus reaching out in every way everywhere.

Romans 3:28 is a key verse reminding me of God’s love for me and that he won’t stop. Never mind how many times I go away, He has called me.

Prayer points:

  • The change, as David and Esther go home that we will stay united and that we won’t struggle but keep pushing forward.
  • Wisdom, as a pastor of the church. It is not easy; I need wisdom from God to deal with situations that arise.
  • Carry on sharing the good news to reach more and do bigger things with God and keep sowing the seed.
  • About my dream to run an education centre that will affect and have impact in the community.
  • Journey with us, support us, visit us, we are God’s family and we are in this together.
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Introducing Sok

My name is Sok, I am 24 years old and I come from Kampong Cham province.  I came to Phnom Penh when I was 9 years old.  When I was 12 years old I lived in a home with other children run by a Christian organisation.  Every Sunday all the children went to church and I started to hear about Jesus.  At first I went to Sunday school and after one year I then began to go to youth and learnt more about Jesus and why we should believe in Him.  They taught me about in the beginning God made everything and each week I learnt more and more.  When I knew clearly about Jesus dying on the cross for my sin I gave my life to Him and then I got baptised.

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For the next few years my life was very difficult, I had no family to help me and the organization couldn’t support me anymore.  I was now a mum to my daughter and I started to come to the Elim church.  One week at the prayer meeting I shared that I needed to find a job to be able to support my daughter.  Sokim, the manager of Be Free, met with me and offered me a place in the training program.  I was so happy and thankful to God because while I studied new skills in Be Free my daughter was also being cared for in the ELC. 

After one year I graduated from Be Free and although I was sad to leave my family there I was really excited to learn a new skill and work in a cafe.  I also continued to be part of the Elim family and I serve as part of the worship team in church.  I  am happy when I lead worship, I can connect with God and know how much he loves me.  When I sing in church, I want everyone to know God has a plan for them and how much He loves us.  When people don’t know God, they have sin and live far away from God, I want them to come close to God and to know the love God has for them. 

I worked in the cafe for one and a half years and although I’m happy I still pray about what God wants me do for Him.  He put on my heart a desire to share the Bible with everyone.  At this time Elim Cambodia needed someone to join the church planting team.  I made a CV, applied for the job and following an interview the pastors chose me to join the team.  Now I have worked with the church planting team for 2 years teaching children and young people about God.  This is what I must do because God wants me to bring people to Him.  Not my plan but God’s plan!

When my schedule is free I also help in the ELC in the baby room, toddlers and preschool.  I love being with the children and helping the other staff.  I also enjoy meeting the girls in Be Free,  encouraging them and joining them for Bible study.

When I go to the village with my work I worry about my daughter and what I need to teach her.  I had no love from my parents when I was young but now my family, Elim church, worry and care about me; they help look after my daughter, encourage me and I am so happy.

In my spare time I like to listen to worship music, read my Bible, clean my home and take my daughter out – she enjoys going to the playground.  I love being Sophieya’s mum – she is so clever and funny; when I’m sad she makes me happy, and she tells funny stories to make me laugh.

I continue to pray for what God’s plan for the future is for me, I trust in Him.  Every morning I pray and read my Bible and God teaches me what I need to do.  

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My favourite verses is the Bible is 1 Corinthians 3:4-7 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?  What, after all, is Apollos?  And what is Paul?  Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord as assigned to each his task.  I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.  So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  

In the past when I had a problem God never pushed me away, He never went far away from me.   I sometimes make mistakes but God still loves me and His love never changes.  God changed my life, before I had nothing but now I have everything.  God can do the same for you!  Just believe in Him and He will change your life!

An Interview with Aly

What is your name and how old are you?

My name is Chhenly but my friends call me Aly or Aly Baba and I am 23 years old.

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When did you first hear about Elim Cambodia?

In January 2015 I started attending Phnom Penh Elim because I lived near to Sokim and Sok, two members of the church.  Around this time my daughter Solyka was 2 and a half years old and she was going to Elim’s Early Learning Centre.  In June I lost my job working in a restaurant because the owner wanted me to work evening shifts and I couldn’t because of my daughter.  Sokim chatted to me and because of my early childhood and life I was accepted into the Be Free program.

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What did you enjoy most during your time in Be Free?

I enjoyed studying Khmer and English, making crafts and using the sewing machine, making cards which I had never done before.  I was happy because I was part of a big family with lots of friends.

What happened when you graduated from Be Free?

When I graduated from Be Free I started to work in the ELC because sometimes I volunteered there when the manager was short of staff due to sickness or holiday and I really enjoyed caring for the children.  I began to work in the toddler room and also helped sometimes with the baby room.  I love all the babies and children so much, and loved being part of the ELC team.

What took place next?

Elim Cambodia started to rent a property that would become a guesthouse for teams and visitors rather than them having to stay in hotels.  David and Esther asked me if I would like to manage the guesthouse and I was so happy!  I love cooking food and making everything tidy and clean.  When the rennovations were being done in the guesthouse there was so much mess and for three weeks I had to clean everyday!  I really enjoyed going to the market with David and Esther to buy everything I would need in the kitchen and for all the guests in the bedrooms and other rooms.

Who were the first people to stay in the guesthouse?

A group of Elim missionaries came to stay during the first Global Asia conference in September 2017.  I really enjoyed making breakfast for the guests, making the beds and cleaning the rooms everyday.  I am so happy looking after people and helping them during their stay in Cambodia.  I want them to be well fed, sleep well and be comfortable when they are away from home.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Meeting lots of people from all over the world, I have so many friends from working in the guesthouse.  My English has improved because I am speaking everyday and I also teach the guests a little bit of Khmer.  I really enjoy cooking food for the guests especially Khmer curry, which I am told is the best in Phnom Penh! When I go to the market to buy food sometimes the team members want to go with me if they have free time.  

Are there any challenges with working in the guesthouse?

At the start my English was not so good and I found it hard to communicate with the guests and had a lot of new vocabulary to learn but I had good teachers to help me.  Now I love everything about my job and am so happy!

Are you involved in any other ministries in Elim Cambodia?

I used to help with the sound desk in church and when the church plant team went to the village on Sunday I would help with the Kids Clubs.  When I have free time I still go with the church plant team and I really enjoy this.  For the past 5 months I have been part of the youth team organising the events whenever we meet.  I was really excited to see my dream come true of holding a youth camp in Kep and we all had a fantastic time playing games together, times of worship, eating together and seeing young people commit their lives to Jesus and get baptised!

Aly you always work so hard and we have to tell you to take time off!  What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Spending time with my daughter, listening to music, going to the salon and getting my hair washed, and running.  I took part in the 10k run for the the past two years in Siem Reap and I am training to compete in the 21k in November.  

What is your favorite Bible verse?

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritate or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.

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What else would you like to share?

I love telling people about God, sharing my story in how God even before I was born knew me and knew what would happen to me.  God always had a plan for my life, a good plan and I want everyone to know the God I know.  

I also want to thank everyone who comes to Cambodia and stays in the guesthouse.  Not only are you enabling me to have a job but you are making a difference to the lives of many Khmer people.  The church planting team are able to plant new Elim churches and Elim Kids Clubs because of you.  I am so glad to belong to the Elim family and to be a part of what God is doing in Cambodia.  God bless you!

 

Introducing Sokhom, manager of the ELC

My name is Sokhom San and I was born in Kandal province on 15 December 1985.  I have 2 brothers and 3 sisters.  My parents were farmers growing rice and green beans.  When I was a child sometimes I was unhappy because my family was so poor and I didn’t have things that other children had.  Sometimes I had to walk to school without shoes, my friends were very kind and shared their food with me because occasionally I didn’t have breakfast.  When I came home from school I helped my parents on the farm and also cooked food for my family.

In 2004 when I was 19 years old I came to Phnom Penh to study a skill but it was too difficult for my family to pay for studies so I looked for a job instead.  I heard about Elim through my cousin, they had an Early Learning Centre, I worked part time as a cleaner and I studied English part time as well.  When I finished my cleaning job everyday I would then play with the children and loved them so much.  Kay and Neville, the Elim missionaries asked me to start working in the ELC but I had no training and didn’t know how to help a child when they cried.  Kay and Neville gave me time to think about it, and I talked to my cousin who said it was great opportunity.  I came to Phnom Penh to find a job and it was good for an organisation to offer me a good job and learn a skill.  

My mum was happy for me to work for a Christian organisation but told me to remember who I was and I couldn’t become a Christian, at this stage I was 20 years old.  There was one member of staff who was a Christian and was always telling me about the good news and inviting me to church but I never went with her.  During this time I was really happy with the children but I felt uncomfortable when people started to talk about God and church.  Finally one day I didn’t want to say no when asked to go to church so I went with my work colleague.  When I went to church the pastor spoke about children respecting their parents; when I was younger I didn’t love my parents because they were so poor and I had to without lots of things, but when I heard this I was encouraged to love my parents.  

After this I wanted to learn more about Jesus and I went to church myself by bicycle and was encouraged to pray to God for every situation in my life.  I lived in the Elim centre and one day when I was by myself I prayed and asked Jesus to come into my life. I felt warm and comfortable and happy.

One day my father was very sick and my family asked me to go home, I prayed because I remembered the pastor telling me to pray about every situation.  I prayed for my father to be sitting and waiting for me to get home, and when I got home he was!  I thought my family was telling lies to me about my father being so sick but when I talked to my father he said, I don’t understand because yesterday I could not sit up and the Dr couldn’t help me but today I am able to sit up and talk to you.  I asked God for my father to be sitting under the mango tree and God answered my prayer completely!  I told my father about my prayer, he didn’t say anything but he smiled.

That day I felt God is amazing, the road to my family’s house is dangerous, and I drove my moto and I just remember being at the boat to cross the river to my house and thinking how did I get here, God protected me on the journey!

When I was working in Elim ELC for one year Nita started to work there also.  When I meet Nita and her boyfriend Chamnap, God blessed me with good people around me and encouraged me.  Nita and Chamnap were a good example to me.  I also met Rith who would later become my husband!  Then I looked at him like a younger brother because he is a few years younger than me.  But then I was told its ok to marry someone a few years younger so I started to study him and a year later we got married.  I wanted us to get married in the church and for a long time I prayed that my family would allow me to have a Christian ceremony.  I then asked my mum and she said ok!  I was so excited and happy that once again God answered my prayer.

When we got married I was 29 and one year later I still wasn’t pregnant.  My neighbor spoke bad things over me and I was told by other people I wouldn’t have a baby.  I replied ‘you are not God and it is not for you to decide’.  The last Sunday in December 2015 David knew how sad Rith and I were, it was so difficult because so many staff were pregnant and I wasn’t.  David shared our situation asking the church to gather round Rith and me and prayed that God would bless us with a baby.  The following Christmas Rith and I were overjoyed to stand in church with our son Eden thanking God for answering our prayers.  God blessed us again with our beautiful daughter  Deborah who is one; and now I am 20 weeks pregnant with another baby.

For many years I looked after the pre-school section of the Early Learning Centre but now my role is manager.  I look after all the staff and children; speak to the parents and help with training and overseeing when visitors come.  I also look after Sunday school helping with rotas and training the teachers.  I love teaching children about Jesus and it gives me so much joy to hear them singing and worshipping Jesus.

My two favorite Bible verses are:

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

I thank God for always taking care of me and my family; he always answers my prayers and encourages me, keeps me safe and God healed my husband when he was sick.

My father passed away in 2009 and I miss him so much but God has given me so many good memories of my father that gives me peace and makes me smile when I think of him.  

Now I am so happy because I can work with the children in the ELC and look after my children.  God always had a good plan for my life, many times I have faced difficult circumstances but God was always there.  Now I keep looking to God and I’m excited about what God will do in the future.  Whatever happens in my life only God can make it better, he transformed my life and I love Him.

Introducing Sokim, Manager of Be Free Cambodia

Hello, my name is Sokim and I was born on 16th July 1992.  My childhood was very difficult as I was sold by my family when I was 5 years old.  Until I was 12 years old I was treated so badly by the two families I was forced to work for, as I was sold again to a second family when I was 10.  At the age of 12, I was set free and taken to a Christian organisation in Phnom Penh where I was looked after by a house mother along with other children.  At the age of 18 I became pregnant with my daughter Chiera and I was abandoned once again.  Life was difficult as I was studying at school as well as raising my daughter, with no family to help me.  When my daughter was 2 years old my counsellor introduced me to Elim’s Early Learning Centre where Chiera became the first child to receive a full scholarship to be cared for enabling me to continue with my study and part time work.  I immediately became part of the family of Phnom Penh Elim church attending the prayer meeting and church services every week, and getting to know friends as well as growing in my Christian walk.

In May 2013 Esther met with me and shared about what Be Free Cambodia would be, and offered me a job as manager, I prayed about it and responded the next day that I would love to take up this position.  I loved getting the rooms in Be Free ready for the girls who would become our first trainees.  When I was in Hagar I learnt how to make cards and I was excited about teaching this skill to the trainees.  Because of my life and the hard situations I experienced I knew I could love the girls and teach them about how much Jesus loves them too.

Working in Be Free is challenging and sometimes heartbreaking. I feel sad when a trainee doesn’t finish the 12 month program, usually from family pressure to earn more money working in the sex industry.  My heart is broken when a girl leaves because I want them to have a better life from graduating and getting a job that she wants to do with a good salary.  

But being in Be Free is also rewarding and we celebrate each trainee who completes the program, graduates and starts a new job where they are able to provide for their child.  We thank God that they have good relationship with us and are part of the family of Elim Cambodia.

In 2015 I was honored to be invited to the UK as guest speaker at the Be Free Gala Dinner, my story was shown and Paul Hudson, IMD of Elim Missions interviewed me.  At the start I was so nervous as there was over 200 people present but God gave me the words to say and took away my nerves.  I loved being in England, Wales and Northern Ireland; it was so cold one day that I even saw a little bit of snow for the first time in my life!  I loved the food, especially mushrooms and the Chinese noodles.  I thank God for this experience and I have many wonderful memories of the people I met and the places I was able to visit.  In churches I was able to share about Be Free, about how God is transforming the women we are blessed to teach and make a difference in their lives.

For five years I was a single mum to Chiera and although life was not always easy God has always been so good and faithful to us both.  I started to pray to God for a husband for me and a daddy for Chiera.  One night I had a dream and a face was in the dream, a man that I had known when I was in the Hagar organisation.  When we were younger Somnang loved me but then circumstances changed and we lost contact with each other.  Following the dream I was able to get in touch with Somnang and invited him to church.  We began to get to know each other again, Somnang met Chiera and the three of us started to spend time together.  We got engaged in May 2016 and were married on 8th October 2016.  God blessed our wedding day with monsoon rain meaning the evening reception had to be moved into the church. Somnang and I smiled through it all saying that God was pouring his shower of blessing on our married life together.

We are now the proud parents of Chiera, aged 8 and Daniel who is 16 months.  Chiera loves being a big sister and having a Daddy who loves her so much.  God has given me the family I have longed for, for such a long time.

When I was young I never knew love, and now when I am in Be Free I don’t want the girls to feel the same.  I want the girls to know they are loved and are a daughter of the King.  I always prayed to God to help my life.  Sometimes we have a bad life with difficult experiences but we need to trust God, he always encourages us, always loves us and always blesses us.  I tell the girls that God loves us all so much, he never left me, at times I may have felt lonely but now I trust God and know he always had a plan for me, I know I have more than enough from God, he always knows what I need.

When I work with the girls they share about their bad life and I encourage them that they need to be strong, I understand how they are feeling and I share with them from my own experience. 

I am so thankful for the role I have in Be Free.  From seeing the transformations in the girls’ lives from when they first start the program until the graduation ceremony, they smile, know Jesus and have a good job.  Some of the girls are part of the worship team, I am also in the worship team and it makes me happy to see them come to church and have a good relationship with God.

On behalf of all the Be Free team I want to express my deepest thanks to the churches and individuals who support Be Free and make it possible for women in Cambodia who have had a difficult life to join Be Free and have their life changed.  Keep praying for Be Free Cambodia, for the staff, trainees, and organisations we partner with. I am so thankful for all the teams and individuals who have visited over the past 6 years, working with girls, transforming our centre with our new rooms, teaching new skills and loving everyone in Be Free.

My dream for the future is for Be Free Cambodia to have a small salon and cafe where trainees can learn how to do beauty and make coffee.  When teams come the trainees can pamper them and practice their skills; and then when they are trained can work in a beauty salon or coffee shop; enjoying working in a place using skills they have learnt.

I am so thankful to God that I have a good life now and know Chamnap, Nita, Sarak, Sophea, David, Esther and all my big family in Elim Cambodia.  God is faithful and loves me so much!

I will close with my favorite verse that always gives me comfort and encouragement.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 

Introducing Chamnap, International Leader of Elim Cambodia

I was born in 1983 in a middle class Buddhist family, I have 2 older sisters and a younger brother. I started to walk when I was 1 year old and was living a normal life as a child up until I turned 2 at which point I contracted the polio virus and this prevented me from walking until I was nine. It meant for 7 years all I could do was crawl and drag myself about. As a child my parents were so worried that I wouldn’t walk again so they went to a Buddhist fortune teller who told them that this was my punishment for breaking a bird’s legs and this was my Karma. He said that I would never be able to walk again and my parents believed him but challenged it by taking me to many different types of doctors to see what they could do.

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I started school when I was 9 which was three years later than most children.  School life was tough, I got bullied and mocked for the way I looked as I walked and just not being able to do the same thing as others. This was difficult but I persevered in school and finished my year 12, I had a few friends who stood with me and always supported me when others treated me badly and I still have a close relationship with them today. My parents also pushed me because they believed I could succeed when the many voices around them wanted me to be pushed aside. I will always be grateful to my parents for this.

In my final year of school my father passed away and this was a major problem as not only was he a good man and a good father but he supported us all. My sister had to stop university and get a job so my younger brother and I could finish school.  My Mother took 2 years to come to terms with the loss, it was a very traumatic time for us as a family.

After I left school I worked for two years in a training centre with World Vision Cambodia and this went very well. So much so that at the end of the 2 years I was offered a job as the child sponsorship program officer. This was where I first heard about God as I had to attend weekly Bible studies and devotions. It was 2004 while still working for World Vision that I made a decision to give my life to Jesus, I didn’t know a whole lot at that time but I do remember making that decision. A short time after that I left World Vision to start a Christian organisation with my friends called Chrysalis, to help people who had big disadvantages in their life. It was during this period of my life that I met Nita who is now my wife. She then brought me to Elim where I was baptised in 2008. At this point I was working for Hagar and doing some church activities on Saturdays and Sundays, this was when I started to have more of a pastoral role within Elim.

Nita and I met in 2007, we fell in love and we decided to get married in 2009. Nita had a daughter already called Sarah who was 4 when we met. Sarah is now 17 and I love her very much, she is my daughter and I am so proud of her. We have 3 other children Naomi who is 8 years old, Haddasah is 3 years old and Eli is 10 months old. God has truly blessed us as a family and we love each of our children so much.

I started working full time for Elim as a pastor just over 3 years ago but had been serving part time from 2012.  It has been such a joy to watch the work flourish through our city church and church plants, our Early Learning Centre, Be Free Cambodia and also our new Guesthouse. I have known for many years that God had put a big vision and passion into my heart for the lost, needy and disadvantaged. In September 2017 at the first Elim Global South East Asia conference held here in Phnom Penh, I had the privilege of being appointed National leader of Elim in Cambodia.  David and Esther were so pleased to hand this role over to me and I count the responsibility as a total honour to be chosen by God to have this role. Both my wife and I love our family, our church, our work but most of all serving our awesome God.

I believe that God has only just begun to build his kingdom here in Cambodia, and although we are sad to release David and Esther to return to the UK we totally trust God in the days that lie ahead. David and Esther will be working tirelessly in the background helping us in many ways to keep moving forward. We will miss them but we are very focused and ready for the next chapter and we need you all to continue to be a part of that journey. So what’s next?

Later this year we are starting church planting in association with the Elim missionary from Nepal Bhab Ghale and Pastor Steve Kempton. We believe that we are going to see many churches planted over the next 10 years, please pray for this as we select our fist batch of church planters. The vision we have is to see Cambodia saved through evangelism, discipleship and planting a church in every village. Also we want to see our Phnom Penh church keep growing through our youth ministries and cell groups. Please don’t think that because David and Esther are leaving that we are going to take it easy or fall apart, on the contrary we are going to be more determined and work even harder to make God’s vision come to fruition.

Please, please, please keep praying, coming out with teams, supporting financially and any other ways you are involved. We have always said we are all in this together, we need you to play your part as we play ours. We value and love you all for your generous hearts.

I leave with my favourite verses, scripture that many of you will know already, let us all take up the call on our lives that our Lord and Saviour Jesus gave us all.

Matthew 28 v 18-20

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The Future is Bright!

Over the past 8 years I have had many exciting moments in Cambodia.  One of the stand out times was when Pastor Gary Beattie from our home church in Bangor Elim and I got to baptise 11 people in one of our villages as the sun was setting. But I have to be honest this past week has been absolutely amazing. I have just returned from our first ever youth camp and I must say I am so proud of our whole team for everything they did to make this happen.

We set off early on Tuesday morning in our own mini bus plus a 45 seater bus we had hired, arriving just after lunchtime. There was 48 young people from Phnom Penh and 11 that joined us from Kep so 59 in total; it was extra special to bring two of our youth groups together. Everyone got of the bus full of excitement even though they had travelled so long. The expressions on their faces when they saw the beautiful place we were about to stay at was a picture and a half. Shalom Valley outdoor pursuits centre was only opened at the start of this year by the amazing Alongsiders organisation. We actually were the first group to stay that wasn’t alongsiders so Elim will forever be remembered for being the first.

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The first afternoon was spent playing games run by Sok, Aly and Dren with everyone entering in and having so much fun. Each of the young people where assigned into four teams and they competed against each other.  Aly and Sarak had designed and organised t-shirts to be printed so everyone felt they belonged. On the first evening we had our worship praise time and it was just so special to see so many young people worshipping God in such a passionate way, remember all these things are so new to so many of them. As I said a few weeks ago we had 24 young people saved over the last few weeks and on our first night we witnessed another 13 come to faith, it was just wonderful.

I had the total privilege to speak at the three services and I felt God wanted me to look at the three characters from the parable of the Prodigal son. The first night was all about the younger son coming to his senses and returning to the father, entering into a true relationship with him. The second day I spoke on the older son and how as Christians we need to be so careful how we treat others and even more careful that we are actually living a life that represents our claims that we are Christians. The final one was about the Father’s love for us and we again had four decisions on the second night, followed by a call to battle to win our friends and families.  It was fantastic to see around 35-40 young people standing at the front ready for the battles ahead to win the victories of their loved ones lives.

On the morning of the second day everyone took part in the excellent water pursuits provided by the centre, a really fun time with lessons to be learnt about trust and teamwork. On the final morning we had a trip to the beautiful Kep beach and we again had the privilege of baptising 13 new Christians. Afterwards there was much fun in the water and on the beach. The camp drew to a close with us praying for each other and then a four and a half hour drive home. Needless to say we are all shattered but what a significant week!

I have many to thank for financial support and prayer support, so a big shout out to Bangor Elim, Lynette and Michael, Sophie Moore and Coastlands youth, and Martin and the Ballyhenry church. Also to our leaders Aly, Sok, Dren, Sarak, Visal, Chantee, Kaka, Somnang, Zac, Jonny, Rocer, Piseth and of course Pastor Chamnap.  Every single one of you made this happen, your reward over the past months is seeing around 40 young people between the ages of 15-30 coming to know Jesus. Something special is happening I believe, a real move of God and I cannot wait to see what happens next.

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I need to encourage our friends here in Cambodia, go to Shalom Valley with a team and you will have a five star experience. The accommodation, food, facilities and the outdoor activities are excellent at an affordable price. The staff were phenomenal as well, just so helpful. To Craig Greenfield and the Alongsiders team well done, we celebrate with you and want to encourage you that God is already blessing the place. Also a big thank you to Cana Transport for looking after us so well also, may God bless you and your business.

Today was a day we would all have liked to stay in our beds but because we are about to start a ten day holiday time with Khmer New Year and then Easter we held our big staff party. The staff receive their bonus which enables them to travel and visit their families in the province; games are played, followed by a massive water fight, Khmer dancing and then a BBQ. It was epic and yes we got soaked. We want to finish the blog by wishing all our Cambodians a very happy Khmer New Year.