Archive for January, 2015

A lot to give God thanks for!

We have had an amazing but very busy week.  It all started last Sunday when we brought 59 people into membership and five young ladies were baptized, three of which are from the Be Free project. It was a fabulous morning, everyone was buzzing with excitement of belonging to the church and getting their membership certificate!  After we gave out the certificates we had the privilege of first interviewing and then baptising the candidates.  Four of these girls are from our Elim staff family and a young lady who gave her life to Jesus about 1 month ago. We had our swimming pool ready at the back of the centre where Sarak and I baptised each person as Pastor Chamnap prayed and committed each of them to the Lord. The children eagerly watched, patiently waiting to get the go ahead to jump into the water after we were finished.

Worship team

Worship team

Church members

Church members

Baptism candidates

Baptism candidates

On Monday we witnessed what can only be called a massive answer to prayer.   During a meeting with the English teachers Esther asked one of them a question.  She was joking with him about his involvement with the church yet he hadn’t given his life to Jesus, we have been praying for him for two years.  None of us were ready for his reply, he said ‘I talked with my wife last night and I have decided to follow Jesus and I want the pastors to pray with me as I give my life to God’. So we asked his wife to join us in the office and along with Chamnap, Esther, Sarak, Nita and myself we had the joy and privilege to lead him to Jesus. On Friday night he helped Chamnap teach the English from the Bible class, he is a very intelligent person and I have always said when he finally trusts Jesus he will be 100% committed and we are already seeing an enthusiasm from him that excites us all. I cannot mention his name at the minute because in Cambodia families do not want their children to break the tradition of being Buddhist and this is a big thing for a son to decide to take another path. Please pray for him and his wife as they seek to tell those who need to know and that God provides strength for the days that lie ahead.

This week has seen us having to take down the banners advertising our English classes and therefore stop enrolling any new students as we now have 150 children on the register.  We have six teachers so if everyone turns up on the one night the average class size will be 25 students. But what pleases us the most about this is we can feed the teenagers into our youth fellowship and feed the adults into our church meetings. So what about the young children how do we impact their lives?  Well, last night Sarak, Sophea, Sokhom, Rith, Sopheavy and others launched our very own local community Happy Kids Club. We didn’t know what to expect but no matter how much we hoped for children to come we never expected 110 children on the first night, it was simply brilliant. Esther and I have about 30 children who live in our street and every day they run up to us to shake or hive five our white hands. We have always said we need to reach these kids and last night almost every single one of them was in Happy Kids club. I took some photographs but to be honest I had tears in my eyes of joy and answered prayers to see these little ones hearing about Jesus for probably the first time.

Happy Kids Club 2

Happy Kids Club 2

English from the Bible class

English from the Bible class

While the kids club took place Chamnap was teaching English from the Bible to over 20 students, again a lot of them hearing about Jesus for the first time. Please pray with us for all 150 students, for them and for their families.  We believe we are on the edge of a move of God in our community and we need prayer to cover all the battles that lie ahead. We serve an awesome God and are seeing a lot of things happening very quickly, things are growing in our ministries so we ask for you to join us praying for our leaders and helpers for strength and energy to do all that is required. I want to finish by saying we give God the glory for all that is happening, it is because of Him that we see these things happen and we want to praise and glorify His Holy name.

Happy Kids Club branching out!

At the start of this week’s blog we want to wish our special friend Jill a very happy birthday.  Jill is such a blessing to us in so many ways and we truly value our friendship.  We have no doubt Jonny will spoil you today so have a wonderful day whatever he has planned for you!

The English school is flourishing with over 130 students on the register.  Two additional classes are commencing from next week as there are too many students in the current groups.  On Wednesday night there were 34 students in the English from the Bible class and we are so excited about this group.   Next week we have decided to change the format with all students studying from the textbooks Monday to Thursday and then on Friday the English from the Bible class will take place at the same time that Happy Kids Club 2 will be launched.  We know the younger boys and girls will have an amazing time as they sing songs, play games and hear a story from the Bible; something that will be completely new to the majority of them.

We are also excited to share with you that Happy Kids Club 3 will be launched in February in the Kandal province.  A few months ago Sokhom and Rith shared their passion to begin an outreach in the community where Sokhom’s family live.  This week David, Chamnap, Sarak, Sokhom and Rith visited the province to meet with Sokhom’s Mum and discuss the idea.  As they waited for the ferry to take them across the community leader was having breakfast so they were able to chat with him first of all and share the vision of Happy Kids Club and how as a church we want to impact the community and teach the boys, girls and adults about Jesus.  He was very receptive and more than happy for everything to progress.  The team then visited the local primary school and met with the vice principal again sharing about the outreach for the children and finding out what times the school operates so HKC wouldn’t clash with students attending their classes.  This again was a very productive meeting and the vice principal was delighted.  Sokhom’s uncle happens to be the Principal of the school so we don’t expect any problems.  Finally they arrived at Sokhom’s family home and chatted with her Mum who is a very special lady and one we are all very fond of.

The plan is to visit at the start of February with a work party to carry out some preparation clearing out the area that would be used for the Happy Kids Club and then begin the weekly outreach.  Please pray for all the preparations and for the team who will be involved, that they will be welcomed by the community and be open to receive the good news they will bring.

This has been an exciting week for the staff and trainees in Be Free as they saw photographs from the first wedding in which they made favours for the guests.  I first met Jenna, the bride, when she visited Cambodia in August 2013 along with her friend Penny.  We enjoyed spending time with them and showing them around our centre. I can remember standing in the area that was designated for Be Free but was just an empty shell sharing with Jenna and Penny about our vision for this place.  It was a special moment for the three of us and both Jenna and Penny have been very encouraging and supportive as they have watched the journey of Be Free Cambodia.

In March of 2014 we were delighted to hear Jenna was engaged to Scot and she wanted Be Free to make wedding favours for their special day.  When I shared this news with the girls they were so excited and communication with Jenna continued over designs and colours.  Jenna’s request was for Kombi van key rings with a personalised number plate.  Channak, our designer, set to work with a template and created the first key ring, a few modifications were made until we all were happy with the design and then production began.  I am so impressed with the skill and talent that the Be Free team have and they were in their element making the key rings and by doing so contributing to Jenna and Scot’s wedding!

Combi Van Keyrings

Combi Van Keyrings

Personalised number plate

Personalised number plate

Ready for New Zealand

Ready for New Zealand

Jenna and Scot live in New Zealand and when the wedding favours were completed, they were parceled up and began their travels.  Our friend Julie who visited us for one week put them carefully in her case and travelled home to Northern Ireland where they were posted by special mail to Jenna’s sister Susie in England.  I will be honest with you in the time between them being posted and safely delivered I didn’t sleep much worrying over this very special parcel.  I was very happy and relieved when Jenna emailed me to say they arrived with her sister!

Then we all just had to wait for the big day and what a beautiful wedding it was.  Jenna and Scot thank you so much for thinking of Be Free and wanting to bless your wedding guests and at the same time raise awareness about human exploitation.  You have made the team in Be Free smile from ear to ear when they saw the key rings they made on the beautifully laid out tables.  Each table also had a Be Free Campaign card giving more information which allowed the guests to know the organisation Jenna and Scot were supporting.   Jenna gave me permission to share the following photographs posted by ‘Cressy Lane’ the event planners they chose for their special day.  They did a beautiful job creating everything to make Jenna and Scot’s wedding a day they will never forget and if you want to see more photographs you can visit their Facebook page.

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Be Free Campaign card

Be Free Campaign card

The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple

In closing we wish Mr & Mrs Brown every happiness in their married life and if you ever want to have a second honeymoon we would be thrilled to welcome you back to Cambodia and for you both to see for yourselves where your wedding favours were made!  If you are reading this, as a bride, and would be interested in looking into having personalised and unique favours for your wedding day email me at: befreecambodia@gmail.com

Keeping the main thing the main thing!

Life sometimes gets so busy and full of stuff that we forget what our purpose is, no matter who we are or what path our lives have taken. The main thing a lot of the time is nowhere near the main thing. The goals we have, the things that make our hearts beat faster, the reason we so eagerly wake up for can sometimes get lost in the busyness of life.

This in itself is a great weapon used by the enemy to keep us from causing any meaningful attempt to thwart his evil plans. Being too busy can actually sometimes do more damage to your mission than doing nothing. Focus is lost, being rational goes; little things become mountains and while that’s all happening who you think is smiling?

When Esther and I first came to Cambodia we struggled to take a break because we felt how can we have a few days off when people are financially supporting us to be here. But thankfully we realised to actually be the people that God wants us to be we need timeouts just like anyone else. You might be reading this thinking chance would be a fine thing, friends if you need it and you don’t something will break!

Over the last 2 months things have really started to accelerate within the different areas of the church we are really truly blessed. Last week seen the English school commencing and as reported it was crazy to have such a good first week. That momentum has carried forward into this week and we now have over 100 students from our local community. All of a sudden we are known as a church that is about the community by the local community. With starting anything the work is always busy and that’s the way we love it, but by the end of last week we both knew we needed out of the city. We needed family time and we needed God time!

Di Mong and his ABC class

Di Mong and his ABC class

Rith and his ABC class

Rith and his ABC class

Sarak with his Beginner class

Sarak with his Beginner class

Visal and his Elementary class

Visal and his Elementary class

So we headed of on Tuesday for 3 nights to Kep which was its usual idyllic self; peaceful, tranquil and very much a place to hear from God. It was perfect, we had such a lovely time just the two of us, talking, laughing even playing games. But also getting much sought after moments with God. I personally was able to plan sermon themes for the whole of 2015, it’s amazing with a clear head and an attentive ear what God can speak to you about. We really needed the break but we are back home feeling totally refreshed and excited about all that lies ahead. Of course it was easy to come home to be reunited with Meg and Ruby our two beautiful toy poodles. They had been staying at “Good Dog” kennels and if you live in Phnom Penh and have dogs we would seriously recommend booking them in there.

Beautiful sunset

Beautiful sunset

In closing I want to urge you all to look after yourselves, protect your marriages and family but most of all protect your walk with God. Keep the main thing the main thing and in all things keep God central in your life. If your life is a frantic mess and you don’t know why; is Jesus in it?  Have you given your life to God? That’s what’s missing, you don’t need to waste your time on things that bring no satisfaction, stop hiding, stop running, and even stop lying to yourself. Jesus is the only way to a full and complete life lived the way God intended. If you want to talk more about this or just need a friend to confidentially talk to email us on davyandesther@gmail.com. Thank you for loving us, for supporting us, for praying for us and the work, we love you all.

School starts & Graduation Ceremony

We want to start this week’s blog by saying a big Happy 100th Birthday to all our fellow brothers and sisters within Elim. This week as a Movement we celebrated 100 years since George Jeffrey’s planted the first Elim church in Monaghan in 1915. We are honoured to serve our Lord and Saviour in Cambodia and to be missionaries belonging to Elim!

This week I believe God has blessed the work in a significant way. We have been working as a church to focus our time and our energy to be a 24/7 church community. I have watched as our church family has started to daily impact people’s lives by the way they live. As an Eldership team we have wanted to give the community we live in an opportunity to better themselves. So after building these relationships we launched our Elim English Language School on Monday night.  We have 3 different classes: ABC, Beginners and Elementary. On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday the students study from Headway 4th Edition but on Wednesday we will be studying English from the Bible. The reason we do anything is to ultimately show Jesus to the world so as the students are educated we also open doors for the message of Jesus to be taught.

Advertising banner

Advertising banner

Sitting entrance exam

Sitting entrance exam

In the near future we see an amazing opportunity to run a local Happy Kids club on Saturday mornings and also feed the students into the youth and church! At the end of the first week we have 50 ABC  students, 20 Beginner students and 18 Elementary Students; a total of 88 people. Please join us by praying that we can impact  many through these classes and that people young and old will give their lives to Jesus!

Last night Esther and the Be Free team held their first Graduation Ceremony.  It’s hard to believe that it is just over a year since the first girl came into the program and it’s remarkable the transformation we have seen.  When she first came to Be Free the organisation that referred her to us said she was 2 years away from independent living. Four months after starting the program she moved into her own home, she sometimes leads the worship in church and has the sense of humour to keep us all laughing. Be Free is a one year program specifically to help bridge the gap between the individual being rescued and returning to normal work life. It gives and teaches many skills, building up the girls and preparing them in basic but essential ways so that they are ready to return to hopefully as normal a life as possible. The brilliant news for our graduate and for us is that because one of our Early Learning Centre staff recently left she has started straight away working full time in our ELC!

The graduation itself ran very smoothly, Esther opened proceedings and then Sarak and Sokim led us in two of C’s favourite songs “How great thou art” and “Jesus we enthrone you”. After this I brought a few thoughts and then read a very much appreciated email of congratulations from our International Missions Director Paul Hudson.  Then Sokim, the Program Manager; Dany the Councillor and Channak the Designer said a few words and presented a Scrapbook of memories. Chamnap then spoke on behalf of the church followed by a reading from one of the other Be Free trainees. Esther brought her thoughts and presented C with a Certificate of Achievement for completing the course along with flowers, a necklace and bracelet. Proceedings were finished by Nita welcoming her newest member of staff into the ELC and closing in prayer where the whole team from Be Free gathered around C to pray. The night would not have been complete without cake, when the prayer was finished a large cake was presented and everyone went out onto the balcony for refreshments. This occasion, like the Be Free program, was a complete success and I want to personally say (not as a husband but as the Country Director of Elim Cambodia) that Esther, Sokim, Dany and Channak have done an amazing job in the last year with all of the trainees.

Graduation gown, Mortar Board Hat and, of course,  card made in Be Free

Graduation gown, Mortar Board Hat and, of course, card made in Be Free

Balcony set up on a beautiful night

Balcony set up on a beautiful night

Special moment for our Graduate

Special moment for our Graduate

Thank you to everyone that has given towards the Be Free Campaign; because of your kindness, support and trust we have been able to work with these young ladies and witness God transform their lives daily. The Be Free Campaign will expand throughout the world and we pray as it does that all nations will see the love of Jesus and be transformed. Please continue to pray and keep giving!  If you would like more information on supporting the work of Be Free please visit the Elim International Missions website at www.elimmissions.co.uk

Praying you have a blessed 2015

At the outset of this week’s blog post we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your love, prayers and support during the past year.  As we have said on many occasions we feel honoured to be serving God in Cambodia but we could not be here without the help and backing from countless individuals and churches.  We all play our part in winning souls for His Kingdom and although we are privileged to physically see lives transformed, be encouraged that what you are doing is making a difference to boys, girls, men and women thousands of miles away.  As we enter a new year it is our prayer that you and your family would experience God’s love, joy and peace and know His richest blessings in all you do in 2015.

During the week we were blessed to spend part of the day with Liz and Alan Patterson, members of Kingstanding Elim church in the UK.  They were holidaying in Cambodia over Christmas and we were delighted to connect with them first of all through Facebook and then meet in person.  We enjoyed introducing Alan and Liz to the staff and giving them a tour of the centre God has blessed us with.  We gave them an update on all the current ministries and over lunch talked about the plans God has put on our hearts for 2015.  Alan and Liz it was lovely to spend time with you here in Phnom Penh and we look forward to catching up again when we are next in the UK, God bless you both.

new friends

new friends

Our last church service of 2014 was one of praise and thanksgiving.  David gave a review of the past year; staff who celebrated their weddings, new births including the first set of twins born into the Elim family, new births for those who responded to the gospel message and began living for Jesus this year, and spiritual growth within the lives of our church family and members of staff.  The church was also given encouraging update on the work of the village ministry which has been going for just over a year and we are excited about what God is going to do there in 2015.

People were then given the opportunity to share how God had blessed them in 2014 and by doing so publicly giving him thanks and encouraging others.  Rith thanked God for blessing him with a wonderful wife, Chanra thanked God for working in Be Free for the past 12 months and for blessing her with a job in the Early Learning Centre starting on Monday, Bong Paula thanked God for giving her the ministry of teaching women in the village about Jesus, Sarak thanked God for his Mum giving her life to Jesus and will continue to pray for the rest of his family believing for breakthrough in 2015.  Others shared about how God had blessed them in their work and family situations.  I took the opportunity to thank God for the past year and how He has directed and led the team in Be Free.  I am so thankful for Sokim, Channak and Dany; this past 12 months has been a learning experience for all of us and Be Free Cambodia is so blessed to have these three ladies who love God with all their hearts and this is evident in the love and compassion they have for every one of the trainees who join us.  I thanked God for each of the trainees and for how it has been wonderful to watch them grow in Jesus and become part of the church family.  Please pray for the girls who will complete their training in the next few months and that we will be able to help them either find full time employment or further training in an area they are passionate about.

Thanksgiving service

Thanksgiving service

Anyone who has visited Cambodia knows how the Khmer love to have fun and enjoy themselves and this was evident at our New Year’s party.  It was advertised as a Talent show and the three sections of staff entered in the competition – Be Free, Early Learning Centre and the Boys!  Sokim had told me the girls in Be Free were doing a Fashion show with a twist and could she borrow David’s clothes and shoes.  It was hilarious watching David’s reaction as each girl modelled his clothes and mimicked him.  The girls in the Early Learning Centre dressed up with big hair and big makeup and were crazy dancers!  They made everyone laugh and they really enjoyed themselves at the same time!  But the grand finale and I think stars of the show have to be awarded to Michael Flatley & Co.  David, Sarak, Rith and Dren performed Riverdance and it was hilarious!  At the end of the routine I think a few of them needed oxygen but they were absolutely brilliant.  They had one rehearsal and I have a feeling they may have googled Riverdance as some of them knew Michael Flatley’s signature moves!  With all the excitement of the evening the judges (Chamnap and I) forgot to announce the winner so this will happen on Sunday.

The festivities didn’t end there with a round of Musical Chairs for the adults (with one minor injury) and another one for the children; and of course no party is complete without Pass the Parcel.  At 11 pm we all went downstairs for food – Khmer soup with fish or chicken – which we all devoured and then we returned to the church where we sang a few worship songs and Chamnap brought a short message.  It was then time for Countdown!  Last year we got our timings wrong and celebrated Happy New Year twice so this time we wanted to get it right and we did. The Countdown video was played and we all shouted ‘HAPPY NEW YEAR’!  We hugged one another wishing each other God’s blessings in 2015.  Everyone joined hands and Bong Paula prayed us into the New Year, thanking God for the year that had just ended and committing our lives and all that we do into his hands.

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Everyone who reads our blogs regularly know cake is a big part of Cambodian life and as soon as we all said Amen, the lights were dimmed and we all sang Happy Birthday to Chanra.  The 1st of January and the first birthday of the year.  It is a big week for Chanra as she completed her training in Be Free and as I mentioned earlier commences work in the Early Learning Centre on Monday.  Next Friday 9th January we are holding our first ever Graduation Ceremony when we will celebrate with Chanra along with the staff and trainees of Be Free, the Early Learning Centre staff, church family and of course special guests which will consist of former teachers, house mothers, family and friends.  We are planning a big celebration with lots of surprises and know it is going to be a wonderful evening; tissues will be at ready as we expect there will be tears of joy also!

In closing can we ask you to continue praying for Joshua, and for his parents Tim and Kim.  Please also encourage your friends and family to pray for the miracle healing this 13 year old boy needs.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for our blog, you might find it interesting; I know we did!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.