Archive for September, 2015

The In Between!

Last weekend was extremely enjoyable being part of the Asian Christian Conference 2015.  This was the second time that New Life Fellowship had organised the event. There were some excellent speakers but the two we enjoyed the most were John Bevere and Glen Berteau. The whole event was run brilliantly, our thanks must go to Pastor Jesse McCaul and his team for making us feel so much part of the proceedings.

With Sarak and Sophea

With Sarak and Sophea

On Sunday morning we met at our church at 8am and set of in a bus with our favourite bus driver Seng and travelled together to Diamond Island where the large auditorium was. It was so much fun just taking a trip together knowing we were about to join many other Cambodian Christians worshipping and praising God!

Church selfie

Church selfie

John Bevere spoke three times which we thoroughly enjoyed and were challenged by every message.  It was special for us as missionaries running a Khmer church to be fed and it was refreshing. My favourite message over the weekend was by Glen Berteau speaking on ‘The in Between’.  He was challenging everyone about what we do in our time on earth from when we give our life to Jesus and until we go to heaven. This is a lifelong frustration for pastors when they see Christian brothers and sisters with so much to give yet so content to watch others do!

An honour to meet John Bevere

An honour to meet John Bevere

As Pastor Glen spoke he talked about when we get to heaven and we receive our reward, our crown or crowns dependant on our service. How we will stand waiting to come to the throne where Jesus will sit and we will cast our crown/crowns at his feet in complete worship. He then stopped and said those crowns are a reward for the works, good deeds we have done as a Christian. Imagine if you are one of those people, I’m sure you’re not but just imagine if you are one of those people who didn’t do anything.  When your pastor asks for helpers in Sunday School or people to help serve in different church areas and you ignore the call. When you get to heaven and you stand in that line, everyone around you has at least one or two crowns some four or five and you have none.  How will you be able to look at Jesus and say ‘sorry but I couldn’t be bothered or I was to shy’.

Nothing and I mean nothing scares me more than that moment of realisation that I let Jesus down; the one who gave everything for me.  So I am determined to do as much as I can to show Jesus what He really means to me.  Perhaps today you need to take a serious look at yourself, you’re maybe saved already but are you happy to be empty handed at the throne or do you want to be burdened down by the crown that represents what you gave back to a Lord and Saviour who gave you everything.

We have a number of things we would value your prayers for this week.  A young child in our church is having major problems with her lower legs and ankles, possibly needing surgery.  But the problem is the doctors say she may not walk again if the surgery doesn’t work out.  We don’t want her to have to undergo surgery, we believe in a God that can move mountains and we believe that He can touch and heal this little angel. I can’t give her name out because both her and her mum need protection and are connected to our Be Free program.

Secondly Esther and I are exhausted and move house next week so we ask for energy in abundance.  We love our work, our lives and the people we share those lives with but it is intense; so we just need God to give us the strength to push on and accomplish everything we need to do this week.

As always thank you for your love, and support; we really do love and appreciate you all.  In closing we want to send special greetings to Esther’s sister Ruth who not only celebrates her birthday this week but wedding anniversary too; congratulations Ruth and Billy.  Have a special few days and know you are in our thoughts and prayers!

#KatyinCambodia

My last visit to Cambodia was in the summer of 2012 with a team from my church. With it being my first trip away and being exposed to the culture, the needs and wonderful people of Cambodia it was safe to say I left a piece of my heart there. In the spring of this year something within me longed to revisit David and Esther and the work they are doing which brought me back at the start of September. As I sat on the long haul plane journey I wasn’t really sure what to expect, a lot can change in three years but despite the wondering I remained excited and happy to be back. As it turns out, my trip did not disappoint and I have returned from Cambodia feeling refreshed and inspired.

Sometimes as we embark on such trips, something within us can commend ourselves for giving up our time to go and serve and hopefully show people glimpses of God, his character and his plan. I confess, a little bit of that lurked deep within but what is prominent about my trip is that it was the Khmer people, the girls in be free, the staff in the early learning centre, the children in the village and so many more, that showed me glimpses of God, his character and his plan. Upon returning home as I thought about my travels God brought me to 1 Corinthians chapter 13 in which Paul speaks of what love is, in particular the end of verse 3 stood out, he explains that “If I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing” I was loved by those I met and spent time with, they cared for me, they made sure I had a bottle of water when it was hot and at lunch they were willing to share food with me in fear I was hungry, they listened and prayed for me, they taught me skills and laughed with me during it and they sent me home with a gift or two. Above anything I will be able to buy, earn or achieve the girls in Be free in particular taught me that people are those which have value and worth and it is in those around us that we see glimpses of our creator and saviour. I hope and pray I never lose sight of the call to love others in a real and present way.  It is safe to say that when I had to say goodbye to the girls I was a tad emotional, the picture we took together will  hold a proud place in my possessions and serve as a reminder of the beautiful lesson in serving God that they didn’t even realise they taught me.

Group hug before I left

Group hug before I left

It was great to see how much the church and its ministry has developed over the last three years since I was last out and it proved as a reminder of Gods faithfulness and ability. At church on my first Sunday it was such a great experience as I watched the Khmer people lead the church in different aspects with such joy, passion and love for God, so many people that I met last time have developed and grown. The following Sunday however we experienced a power cut literally moments after the worship team had finished their practice of which caused the layout and plan for church to shift a bit. When this happened I felt a bit annoyed at the inconvenience but the church soon showed me that despite the circumstances we find ourselves in, we must carry on giving God the glory he deserves, it reminded me of a quote that I love that reads “and if not, He is still good”

In Northern Ireland, we all can get so easily caught up in materialism and personal gain, jealousy and selfishness can control people at times. A moment that could have been missed has kept coming back into my mind when I think about life in Northern Ireland. One morning during devotions with the Be Free girls, two of the girls were given a few wee items for moving into a new home. Initially as they were presented with the gift worry started to fill my mind, was it fair that those girls received this small gift and not the rest; after all, all the girls were in the same financial and home situations. To my surprise however I looked around and the other girls celebrated with their friends, they cheered them on and gave thanks on behalf of their friends that received. I was blown away. How often do I celebrate when others get and I don’t and how often do I cheer people on when they gain and I don’t. This small act has registered with me and I hope I can model it in my own life back at home.

My trip was full of beautiful small moments in which I saw God, it was full of laughter and joy shared with my global family, I had moments when my heart broke and when it was encouraged and filled with hope and my trip was also filled with firsts, such as my first ride on a moto and using a sewing machine. I couldn’t have spent a better two weeks, with better people in a better place. I have a happy and thankful heart and look forward to some day when I can visit again and witness how much more our faithful God has done through David and Esther and the Khmer people.

Learning how to use a sewing machine

Learning how to use a sewing machine

My first time on motorbike

My first time on motorbike

The day the roof came in

This week started off as scheduled with Katy spending time in Be Free on Monday where she took devotions with the girls and sat at the craft table learning how to sew blanket stitch.  One of our trainees is the same age as Katy and is a real character; she had great fun checking Katy’s work.  Dance moves also were learnt as Sokim taught Katy how to dance Khmer style which she did really well at.  Then it was Katy’s turn to teach a routine to all the girls, there was plenty of laughter as they learnt the moves to ‘We’re all in this together’ from High School Musical.  They all enjoyed it so much I said they could perform their dance at the end of staff church for all their work colleagues!

Dance class

Dance class

On Tuesday Katy accompanied David and the outreach team to Sokhom’s village for Happy Kids Club 2, because the school was closed for the day they held one session with 120 children present.  Everything ran smoothly; in fact so smoothly that David and Sarak went next door to the barbers and had their hair cut! Because the barber was eating his lunch Sarak cut his own hair and was happy with the end result!

Barber shop

Barber shop

Our plan for Wednesday was going to Sarak’s village to stay overnight and take part in Happy Kids Club 1, English class, church and youth Bible class.  The car was packed up with everything we needed and at 2pm we began our journey.  We travelled about 20 minutes when a text message from Sokim altered our plans and we turned and made our way back to the centre.  The message read ‘Esther now we have problem in Be Free’.  I thought some of the girls may have had a problem but then photographs were sent through of the roof having caved in, major flooding and debris.  I phoned Sokim and her voice was really panicky, I asked if everyone was okay and if Dren was there.  David then contacted Dren asking him to get in touch with the landlord.  Before we got the message Katy had just asked Sarak if he was looking forward to going home for the night which he was and then David had to say ‘I’m so sorry Sarak but we are going to have to go back to the centre and depending on what we see might not get to your village today.’

Photograph Sokim sent me

Photograph Sokim sent me

We arrived back and made our way upstairs and when I entered Be Free tears filled my eyes with the devastation that was before us.  I spoke to all the girls asking if they were alright; I knew Sokim and Channak were working in the area it happened and thanked God no one was hurt.  We learnt that the water tank situated in the roof burst which brought in the ceiling and caused major flooding.  It was a mess!  Sokim had felt a few drops of water and looked up to see where it was coming from and then shouted to Channak to run!  The girls were all shaken up when it happened but were in great spirits as everyone rolled up their trouser legs and were literally shoveling up the water.  There was a risk with the electricity so we all left the building until it was safe to return.

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6

We met in David’s office and discussed our options.  The landlord was informed and he contacted the builder who wasn’t able to assess the situation until the next day.  We decided to clean up as much as we could; and moved everything into the classroom and office.  The store also has a tiled ceiling so we transferred everything into the classroom as a precaution measure.  Everyone worked so hard and did it with a smile on their face, displaying strength in the midst of calamity.  I said to Sokim this is a great exercise of teamwork!

Stock all safe

Stock all safe

The day ended in laughter as we emptied the fridge and waited for the freezer to defrost; I don’t know who started it but there was a war with everyone throwing ice or putting it down each other’s backs.  It was great fun and wonderful to see everyone with big smiles and joy filled eyes.  Before we left Be Free we all stood in a circle holding hands and David prayed thanking God for His protection and for keeping everyone calm and strong.  We are so thankful that everyone is well and that apart from the ceiling nothing was damaged or destroyed in the flooding.

The builder is in this weekend repairing the damage and we hope to be able to return to Be Free on Monday when again we will work together to get it cleaned and everything back to the way it was.  We all were stunned on Wednesday and Katy wanted to do something nice for the girls so we planned a secret outing to Bloom café on Friday morning.  They were given Thursday off as there was nothing they could do and after devotions I said I wanted to go to Central market as I needed a few things.  They were so happy to go out together and the 10 of us got in our tuk tuks and began the journey.  When we arrived at the market I phoned Dany in the second tuk tuk and said I needed to go to an ATM and get some money first so they followed us; when we pulled up at Bloom there was excitement from the girls especially from four of them who have never been before.  We all choose our cupcake, photos were taken and we enjoyed a treat thanking Katy for blessing us.  A box was taken back for the Early Learning Centre staff which they enjoyed in the afternoon.

Taste as great as they look

Taste as great as they look

We were blessed and encouraged by a message from Katy in staff church and then the Be Free girls performed their dance which was very entertaining and the staff all enjoyed it.  Unfortunately a technical problem with the sound meant the music stopped during the routine but they were able to perform most of it!  We have thoroughly enjoyed our time with Katy; it has just gone in too quick.  The three of us aren’t looking forward to her departure especially as we need to leave the house at 3:30 am.  The only positive is there won’t be much traffic on the road!  We have asked Katy to share a few thoughts from her time here for next week’s post but for now we want to thank her for being such a breath of fresh air, having good fun with and encouraging and loving all of our staff.  We will be praying for you, Katy, as you finish university and follow your heart in the plans God has for you in the future.  God bless you from all the team in Elim Cambodia.

Staff church

Staff church

God prepares the ground

Last Sunday we had our third ‘Special Sunday’ in church where we split into groups after worship. Esther leads up the ladies ministry, Thida the youth and Chamnap, Sarak and I look after the men. On Sunday Esther had all the ladies making a birthday card before Bong Paula gave a summarised version of her testimony and then answered some questions. The men played charades before talking about alcohol and whether we as Christians should be involved in a culture of social drinking which is massive in Cambodia.  All three groups along with Sunday school ran well and we can certainly see that this structure is working for us.

Bong Paula sharing her testimony

Bong Paula sharing her testimony

On Wednesday while I went to the village with Sarak and Sophea, Esther headed back to the airport; I say back to because we have been there quite a lot this year. But the exciting news for Esther, in fact exciting isn’t a strong enough word; the awesome news is that by the end of the year Cambodia will have its first Starbucks and it will be in the airport. Nita and Esther are already planning daily trips!  Anyway Esther had the exciting job of collecting our friend Katy McClune from Lurgan Elim in Northern Ireland. We are very happy and blessed to have her here and we know that many of our staff and Be Free girls will benefit from spending time with her. Already she has been busy learning things in Be Free and thoroughly enjoying it, next week she will be speaking in our staff church and taking devotions so we will be keeping her busy.

Receiving a hug in the Early Learning Centre

Receiving a hug in the Early Learning Centre

Sharing in Be Free

Sharing in Be Free

Great teacher and student

Great teacher and student

As always in Cambodia not everything runs smoothly and this week was just the same.  As you know we received our church registration a few months ago which gives us permission from the Government to teach about Jesus, but in each province you still need consent from the village chief and community chief to do the work you want to do. We have always had that permission in Sarak’s village but this week we got word that the district chief wanted to speak to us and would make a decision whether to allow us to carry on with the church plant. So really from Wednesday until Friday we have been back and forward to the province getting letters written in the right terminology to give to the right people.  Finally by late morning on Friday we were able to sit down with the District chief.  Sarak did most of the talking and was brilliant in the way he spoke, the District chief was actually a gentleman, praise God, and he happily signed off on the church plant and wants to get to know us better as we carry out the work we are doing. Sarak did a really good job and it is another step in his maturity in becoming a leader in Elim but the most thanks and praise must go to God who went before us and was there with us.  God has and is preparing the ground for what I believe is going to be a very fruitful harvest in the surrounding villages.

Please keep praying for the work and for us as a couple, we have had and are having a very busy schedule and on top of that are moving house in 3 weeks’ time, exciting times but very, very busy.  We pray in return that God blesses you all in the week that lies ahead!

In closing I have copied information from this week’s Elim Missions Prayerline about the launch of an Elim Relief Appeal for the Syrian Refugees.

Elim  Relief Appeal

You will have seen the devastating reports of lives lost as people try to escape war in Syria.  Elim Missions are launching an Elim Relief Appeal for Syrian Refugees, raising money to help those who are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. We have many missionaries and partners across 5 continents and so, with this resource and the number of churches in the UK, we feel it is important that we act to help through this crisis. Please continue to pray for the individuals and families who are struggling this week to find shelter; we pray for God’s protection to be with them.  To give today visit our website.