Archive for October, 2015

New Ventures in the Village!

I would like to start this week’s blog off by saying a massive Happy Birthday to my wonderful beautiful Esther. You are an inspiration and it is an absolute pleasure to be married to you.  I don’t know how or why you put up with me but I thank God every day that you do!

Last week I talked about God being the healer and we celebrated by thinking of the protection and healing God had brought into people’s lives. At the end I asked you to remember Pastor Bill Crawford in your prayers, and I want to appeal to you all to keep Bill in your thoughts at all times, remember God is the great Physician, by His stripes we are healed! I also learned today about a lady in her 60’s in New Zealand called Jenny that has an inoperable brain tumour, and the doctors have said there is no hope.  Well we won’t accept that, we are told that with faith the size of a mustard seed we can move mountains.  So please friends lets join together right now; in fact stop reading for a moment and pray for two miracles, one for Bill and the other for Jenny,  lets believe together and prepare ourselves for good news!

Over the last number of weeks we have taken the work in Toul Kaday village in Saang district to the next level by sending Sarak and Sophea there 3 days a week. They are really developing things in many exciting ways.

The English classes are happening twice a day and are being well attended along with music classes with the young men learning guitar, bass guitar and keyboard. Sophea is teaching dance, drama and worship to a group of about fifteen 12-15 year olds. It is so exciting to hear that Sophea’s group is studying the Bible every day and the two oldest girls have made commitments to follow Jesus. Of course Happy Kids club is still going strong every Thursday morning with 80-100 children on a normal week.

A new venture this week has seen volleyball and football starting in the surrounding area; again appealing to the young men and building relationships.  I travelled down to the village in time to have church under the house and it was a real blessing to have 17 people present. I spoke on Nicodemus and salvation for us all, how although so undeserving we have an opportunity to be made whole through faith in Jesus. The message was received well and we just keep praying that these hearts will be impacted by the truth which will lead to life changing decisions of faith!

Volleyball match

Volleyball match

The football pitch

The football pitch

Please keep praying for this ministry along with the brilliant work that Sokhom and Rith are doing in our other village as well.  Pray for safe travel for the team and also fruit for their labour, we pray that God won’t stop at changing these communities but we will eventually see Cambodia won for Christ!

Rith and Sokhom heading off to take HKC2

Rith and Sokhom heading off to take HKC2

In closing we have a date for your diary which gives you an opportunity to support all the work of Elim Cambodia.  Everything we do costs money and we cannot express how grateful we are to everyone who supports the ministry here.  Bangor Elim Missions team is holding their annual Christmas Craft Fayre on Saturday 14th November from 10.30am – 4pm.  This is a great opportunity to start your Christmas shopping and the girls in Be Free are very excited as there will be a selection of Christmas decorations and other craft items that they have made on sale.  So pop along, enjoy a great day out and at the same time make a difference to the lives of children and adults in Cambodia!

Don't miss it!

Don’t miss it!

The Power of Prayer!

I want to start of this morning’s blog by saying we have a wonderful amazing God who is not only our Saviour but also our Healer and our Protector, basically God cares about every single part of our lives. The question I often ask while thinking about myself and the things I have done in my life is simply “Why?”  How can anyone forgive someone for so much filth and dirt in a life? I constantly fall short of the mark but yet God is there dusting me down, building me up and cheering me on.  I am nothing without God, I have no ability to do or strength to cope without a God that enables and empowers. So again my question is why and the answer is simply one word “LOVE”.  A love that passes all understanding, a love that is deeper than any love you and I have ever experienced. It’s impossible to grasp the vastness of that love but here are a few examples of a God of absolute undisputed love.

This week while travelling in Northern Uganda our boss Paul Hudson the Elim International Missions Director along with 4 other people hit something on the road. The car they were travelling in rolled over a number of times and the reports we have been given is the car was severely damaged. Paul was asleep at the time and woke to the car rolling over and over. But Praise God His love was the Protector and even though the car was wrecked Paul and all other passengers walked away from the accident with minor injuries, although very shaken as would be expected. Please pray for Paul and these men that God helps them in their recovery. Also please join us in praying for Paul as he is constantly travelling around the world overseeing mission stations in over 60 countries.  He is an amazing Godly leader and we know he needs his health and strength to be able to do all that he does.

Last week one of our dear missionary friends Laura Bleakley was hit in Nepal by a motorbike as she was walking with her husband Andy.  The accident left Laura in hospital with a fractured skull, swelling to the brain and many other smaller injuries. Again we praise God for protecting her life, in a message recently her husband Andy said at one point they thought they might lose her.  But this week Laura returned to her home and she is on the road to recovery.  We thank God for the rapid recovery we have seen.  Laura stills needs pray as she is having really bad headaches and we all know how awful that is, also we need to pray for Andy and the kids Asher and Hadassah.  If you haven’t met this family they are awesome and we thank God for his love that has and is helping this wee family through. It is so difficult to face these things when you’re in a foreign country and family is so far away.

Finally and I’m sure Paul and Laura won’t mind me saying the most exciting act of love from God that we have seen this week revolves around the young man from Bangor Elim that we all have been praying for.  Josh is 14 years old and on Christmas Eve was diagnosed with multiple tumours throughout his body and quite frankly needed a total miracle to stand any chance. Enter faith, the faith that has been displayed over the last 10 months from his family, his friends, his church but even more importantly himself has been mind blowing! So when Josh was told during the week that miraculously after many surgeries and chemotherapy treatment  that he has no cancer in his body anymore, his reaction was ‘I knew that God would heal me’! What amazing faith.  Seriously you need to meet this young man, he is destined for great things, his humility and wisdom is beyond his years. He has handled everything with complete dignity and even has not let his stardom go to his head.  There has been worldwide prayer that went as far as famous golfer Sergio Garcia holding a sign saying #PrayforJosh! God showed his love through healing. Please continue to pray for Josh, his parents Tim and Kim and younger brother David.  The strain this puts on family is immense and they need prayer for the months ahead.

Today you may be looking for that miracle and you haven’t seen it yet.  We must keep believing, without God there is no hope.  Today, whoever you are, wherever you are and whatever you are facing God is with you; He is carrying you; He is right by your side. Please let us know if you need prayer.   Our church in Phnom Penh has been praying for a number of people this year and we have seen remarkable miracles, so please let us know, we would love to join with in believing for your miracle!

In closing please continue to pray for Pastor Bill Crawford who has been ill for a while now and is undergoing treatment.  We still believe and trust God for a miracle, God is in control and we are looking to Him for that miracle. Bill and Maureen, you have a special place in the hearts of so many of our folk here and we all are remembering you both everyday.

Guest blog by Brian & Rachel

At the outset of this week’s guest blog we want to wish a very special man a very Happy Birthday. Dad as you celebrate your 70th Birthday tomorrow know that both Esther and I will be thinking of you.   Over the years you have been an amazing support and faithful, Godly example to us both.  Although we are so far apart we will be thinking about you so much on your special day.  We both love you so much and look forward to skyping you next week!

It has been an honour to spend the past two weeks with our dear friends Brian and Rachel, they have been such a blessing and encouragement to us and everyone they have come in contact with.  Over a year ago the discussion and preparations commenced for their visit and it has been a joy to show Brian and Rachel what God is doing in Cambodia.  Thank you both for your beautiful hearts and we have thoroughly enjoyed renewing our friendship with you both.  We will be remembering you in our thoughts and prayers;and please give our greetings to the wonderful folk in Wellsprings.  Thank you for sharing some of your thoughts from your time with us!

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV)

Faith – Cambodia lends itself to faith from when you first arrive. Making your way through the traffic is a great test of faith and prayer but God is faithful! Faith is at the centre of all of the work, pointing children and adults to a life fulfilled in Jesus. Everything is soaked in prayer, often a quick prayer before facing a daunting situation that has just arisen.

They say faith without works is dead and there is no shortage of good works in display, not just by David and Esther, but also by those whom they have trained and work alongside. All the different groups work hard and have a number of people involved. This hard work is infectious and allows so much to be done.

Hope – is also at the centre of all things. Girls in Be Free are offered hope in abundance for all that they go through on a daily basis for their time in the programme. Hope is offered to all the children in the Early Learning Centre, in the Sunday School and in the work in the villages. We have been amazed at how all sorts of people, those who believe in Jesus and those not quite there yet, are drawn in as they see the heart of hope that beats in all the activities.

Love – the greatest of these is love. So true. One word that sums up everything we have seen is love. The love of Jesus is key to every activity, every conversation, and every relationship. We had been well prepared to show love to others. We knew all too well the love and support we would receive from David and Esther too as we have known them for years and they have been perfecting love in action! What we were not or prepared for was the love from the Khmer people, although having met Sokim and Nita earlier in the year at Wrenthorpe we should not have been surprised.

On our first full day in Cambodia we met some of the team and we have been shown love in bucketloads. From a simple thank you to someone taking time to try to talk and show concern, from keeping us out of the sun and watering us to giving us a seat and putting us first. If, as Jesus said, we will know His people by their love, then we can be sure we have seen many of His people while we spent a short time here in Cambodia.

We have seen just a glimpse of life in Cambodia. There are many good, Christian, organisations working for the benefit of the Khmer people. In our humble opinion none of these surpasses all that is done by our friends, old and new, in Elim Cambodia. It was also a personal thrill to be able to see some rag dolls made by Wellspring Church in Peterborough, our home church in the UK, making their way into the hands of willing recipients. Also to see a toilet completed in 6 days for the Happy Kids Club in one of the villages, paid for by our S4G youth!

Medical clinic underway at Sarak's village

Medical clinic underway at Sarak’s village

During the medical clinic Brian entertained the children with a packet of balloons!

During the medical clinic Brian entertained the children with a packet of balloons!

A precious lady who touched our hearts!

A precious lady who touched our hearts!

Thank you S4G for blessing the community!

Thank you S4G for blessing the community!

We will leave in a couple of days overwhelmed by seeing faith in action, hope in action and love in action. Please pray and support this great work (Nehemiah 6:3).

Brian & Rachel

Green and White Army

Sometimes living so far away from home is hard.  We obviously miss family, friends and our home church and over this last week we have missed a few events that we would have loved to have attended.

The first of these was the Elim 100 celebration in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.  We really were jealous (in a good way) seeing all the photographs for many reasons. Malcolm Duncan was preaching, Suzanne Hanna was leading the worship, Pastor Eric McComb and his wife Ruth were being honoured, many of our friends and church family were there and lastly but definitely not least our wonderful special friends Bill and Maureen Crawford were attending. What a celebration and we would have loved to have been there!

The second event I would have loved to been able to attend was the Northern Ireland football match against Greece. What an atmosphere that would have been.  Our wee country qualifying for Euro 2016, unbelievable, and to know one of the goal scorers Josh Magennis from days when he hung about Bangor Elim and even played a few games for my Bangor Rangers under 13’s team. To watch him I was filled with absolute joy and pride, to see the player he has turned into, along with every other player in the squad, the manager and back room staff; what an amazing feat to qualify in the way they have.

Over this last week we have been involved in many things, it has been very busy but we have enjoyed it thoroughly. It started on Monday evening with a visit to the airport to pick up our latest visitors Brian and Rachel Henry. Brian is an Elim Pastor in Peterborough but we have known them and been friends for many years now. Rachel’s Dad is the legend that is Joe Lindsay, one of our Elders in Bangor Elim and her brother is John Lindsay who along with his wife Hannah pastors in South Belfast Elim. Brian and Rachel hardly got time to breathe before we had them in Sokhom’s home village. Rachel held a clinic for all the older people of the village checking things like blood pressure, eyes, ears and any other ailments. After this they witnessed the kids club where around 80 children attended, numbers were down because of the holidays but we still had a real fun time together!

Medical clinic underway

Medical clinic underway

Rachel and her wonderful helper being creative

Rachel and her wonderful helper being creative

In closing I would really ask you all to pray for our staff and church members as the Pchum Ben religious festival is currently being celebrated.  Also known as Ancestors’ Day, it is a time for Cambodians to pay their respects to their ancestors of up to seven generations.  The majority of people return to their provinces to be with their families and together they go to the local pagoda offering gifts of food to the monks with the hope that their offering will earn ‘merits’ that will then reduce the sins of the ghosts of their ancestors. Please pray for protection as they say no to their families when asked to participate in the ceremonies and also that opportunities will come to witness and to talk about Jesus.

A week of new beginnings!

Another week has passed and we have entered a new month, moved in to our new home and a new baby has joined the Elim family!  But first we were delighted to renew fellowship with our dear friend Betty from New Zealand who visits Cambodia each year.  When we were checking our diaries to arrange a get together, Betty said she was free on Sunday and could come to church.  I seized the opportunity and asked if she would like to share in our ladies church; her testimony, a message or why for over 20 years she has such a heart for Cambodia.  She agreed and on Sunday morning following a time of united worship the ladies went up to Be Free where Sokim organised a game first of all and then Betty blessed our hearts with what God put on her heart to share.  She combined all three – her testimony, scriptures that have encouraged, comforted and challenged her, and about God putting Cambodia on her heart.  I know Betty won’t mind me sharing her age and at 77 years young she is an inspirational and incredible woman of God.  She talked about her first time in Cambodia and visiting the Killing Fields and Toul Sleng Genocide Museum; both very different to how tourists see them today.  As Betty spoke the same element makes her love Cambodia as we do and if you ask anybody who either visits or lives here they will most likely give you the same answer – the people!  We always enjoy our time with Betty and we hope that as she is such an encouragement and support to us, that she is refreshed and abundantly blessed during her visit.

Church

Church

Following church we took Betty to our new home where the landlord and landlady were having a housewarming party for their friends and family.  Several times we use a quote ‘only in Cambodia’ and this was one of those times.  It was lovely to meet the landlady for the first time and everyone was so happy enjoying their banquet and socialising together.  We gave Betty a tour of the house, chatted for a while and before we left presented our landlord and landlady a fruit basket to thank them for all their hard work in getting our home ready.

House warming party

House warming party

On Tuesday the Be Free team offered to help me clean our new home; I have never seen girls more excited as we gathered up all the cleaning materials and piled into the tuk tuk.  In two hours the house was shining like a new pin, cold drinks were enjoyed and of course, a photo shoot took place!  These girls bless my heart so much and I am looking forward to many times of fellowship and community around our table and in our home.  The next day was the big move and we are so thankful to Dren, Sarak, Rith and Visal who helped us load and unload all the furniture and boxes.  Sarak made our day climbing onto the top of the first load relaxing on the mattress as the driver journeyed to our new home.  In the afternoon the Be Free girls insisted on helping to clean our old home and again did it with laughter and smiles; when I asked what I can cook to thank them they said lasagna!  We are so thankful to everyone who helped us with our house move, we couldn’t have done it without them and when all the unpacking is done we will organise a housewarming party or two!  We thank the Lord for the provision of this home which we want to be a haven for everyone who enters and a place where we can bless those who bless us on a daily basis!

Moving house Khmer style

Moving house Khmer style

Also on Wednesday Sunny, who works in our Early Learning Centre, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl called Rachel, weighing 3.3kg/6lbs 9 ozs.  We are delighted for Sunny and Sokchea and can’t wait to meet the newest member of our Elim family.

Beautiful Rachel

Beautiful Rachel

This week has been emotionally and physically exhausting for Chamnap as both Nita and Naomi have been in hospital with high temperatures and flu like symptoms.  We visited them on Thursday, Nita in one room and Naomi across the corridor.  Chamnap was going between them both and we are thankful to one of our staff members Chantee who was staying with Naomi.  Hospital stays require family and/or friends to be with the patient at all times caring for them and most times providing food as well.  When we were with Nita the nurse checked her temperature and it was coming down and we hope and pray both of them will be home and resting there from today.  We continue to value your prayers for the daughter of one of the trainees in Be Free, she goes to hospital again this week and we pray for wisdom for the Dr and peace for Mum as she is getting overwhelmed by all the hospital trips and information about her daughter’s health.

In closing I want to mention two special friends Kristen and Bibi who are leaving Cambodia on Tuesday with their precious 1 month old daughter Georgianna to live in the United States with Kristen’s family.  We value your friendship over the past few years, it was an honour to be present at your wedding and we are delighted that you are now a family of three.  We will miss your company and snuggles with Gigi but are excited for this new chapter of your lives.  It is bittersweet as we know how much Cambodia is in both of your hearts but there are many happy people wanting to enjoy life with the Leang family in the U.S.  Know you will be in our thoughts and prayers especially for the journey and transition period; and we are thankful for the technology that we can keep in touch with you.  Love and prayers for your new life in America, we will miss you!

A special date in Bloom

A special date in Bloom