Archive for January, 2016

Lives being transformed

Today we start our blog on a sad note.  We would like to extend our deepest sympathy to Dorothy, Joanne, Robert and the whole family at the loss of a wonderful husband, father and grandfather in Joe McCready. The quiet man who was a legend, we loved going round to Dot’s because we would get to see Joe and listen to his stories. For those of you who never got to meet him just look at his family and you will know the type of man he was, full of love and kindness. Heaven is a much better place today but there is a massive gap in his family’s lives.  I ask you to join with us and all of Dorothy’s friends in Cambodia as we pray for a peace that passes all understanding to surround the whole family. Dorothy we love you and so wish we could be there for you at this time.

We know many people were encouraged by Holly’s blog entry last week and we want to take this opportunity to thank both Jonny and Holly for spending two weeks volunteering with us as part of their travels around South East Asia.  We are delighted when people come and say ‘I am happy to help in whatever area you need’.  This was also the case of Naomi, another new friend from New Zealand, who connected with us through the wonderful lady we are blessed to call a friend, Betty, who you will have heard about in earlier blogs.  When Naomi visited our centre and offered to help, we gave her the blank canvas of the walls in our church and asked if she could bring some colour and life; displaying the various ministries that are connected to Elim Cambodia.  Naomi took the challenge and came up with a storyboard of wall panels which will display photographs and blurbs about each ministry.  Due to repainting the church before all the artwork is displayed, the work wasn’t able to get finished before Naomi left but we will complete it this week and unveil the completed work in next week’s blog.  Thank you Naomi for using your creative gift and we look forward to your next visit to Cambodia.

Since the start of January we have seen many things happen in the different areas of the work here in Cambodia.  God is moving and we are really excited about what he is doing. Be Free has 2 new trainees in the program and another 2 about to start in the next few weeks. Our ELC has three staff leaving and three new girls starting to replace them, the first staff to leave in well over a year and then we get three leaving. The church has new leaders as well and we will tell you more about that over the next weeks, but we have introduced our new evening service and although we don’t expect it to be full for a long time it has started steadily and we will believe it will grow quickly.

2

A new journey commences for two special young ladies

Our village work is healthy in Toul K’day village, we have English classes going well along with music classes and dance lessons. The youth have 3 Bible studies a week and of course there is our little house church. Over the last months we have seen over 15 people young and old give their lives to Jesus! Ever since we started the village work a man called Gean has helped with any opposition that we had. For no reason other than he wanted his grand daughter to go to the kids club. I have spoken about him before in previous blog posts; he is the man with one leg who heard about Jesus in the refugee camp in Thailand 40 years ago. Well I write this with tears in my eyes when I tell you that he has just give his life to Jesus, and will be baptised in 2 weeks with 14 other people including his 14 year old grand daughter. The oldest lady in the village has also decided to follow Jesus, their faith is real and they have new life. We had the privilege to give out a few audio Khmer Bibles which the older ladies will share as they listen to the New Testament being narrated to them. Please keep praying for the villagers, in 2 weeks we will be having a big celebration with over 100 people invited to come and join with us in the baptism. It is a massive deal as fifteen people including Sarak’s mum, dad and 2 sisters tell the rest of their community that they have decided to turn from Buddhism and now belong to Jesus! This is going to lift the interest in our church and I believe God is going to open the floodgates in this community!

IMG_8191

Her eyes say it all, delight in receiving God’s word!

With this encouragement we are intending to plant our second village church in Chroy Chrey starting on Monday 22nd February. We will be inviting everyone on the 16th and then having a special party night to start of where we will eat Khmer curry and introduce ourselves to the people. Please pray for Rith, Sarak and myself as we pioneer this in the village, in the villages because older people come to the meetings I need to go and bring Gods word, they listen and respect when you are more their age bracket and also because I’m foreign they have this respect as well. Both Sarak and Rith are more than capable but we have to respect the way things are done in the villages. Sokhom will join the team again once her pregnancy is further along and the doctors are happy that she can travel so far.

We thank God for your prayers and support enabling us to do God’s work here, it isn’t easy at times but the rewards are massive as we see people’s lives being transformed. If you want more information in ways you can get involved in supporting any areas of the work please send us an email to davyandesther@gmail.com and we can directly correspond with you!

Guest blog by Holly

It’s been almost 2 weeks since my husband Jonny and I arrived in Cambodia and what a time it has been! Also from Northern Ireland, it’s been a privilege for myself (Holly) and Jonny to see all that has been happening in Elim Cambodia and to get to know the lovely Davy and Esther.

12576263_10208981463679538_265690695_n

At the Royal Palace

 Jonny and I are spending 5 weeks travelling South East Asia and were keen to serve along the way. Having heard about the amazing things happening Cambodia, we were so happy to make a stop here. From Davy and Esther’s previous blogs you will understand how busy life is here and about the ins and outs of daily church life. I want to take this opportunity to share more specifically about our experience here and what God has been saying to us since being in Phnom Penh.

For those of you who have not experienced this city, it really is like no other. As we bump along the roads in our tuk tuk I am often overcome with both a sense of sadness and a sense of pride at a country that contains so much historical and present day heart ache, yet is stoically facing life. Cambodia isn’t particularly wonderful because of its food or grand buildings but because of its people, who are infectiously joyful. Elim Cambodia is saturated with exactly that, joyful people who are seeking to live their lives serving God and are supported by people like Davy and Esther and those of you who sponsor them and their families to do so. This week we had the opportunity to travel to the village where Sarak and Sophea who run ‘Happy Kids Club’ and a community church. In the simplest of settings, God is doing the most amazing of things as young and old people, formally Buddhists, enthusiastically raised their hand to the question, “Do you want to be baptised?”

IMG_8122

Praying during Happy Kids Club

IMG_8132

Children performed a new dance they learnt

On Friday evening two girls from Be Free graduated, marking the end of their time in the programme and a chance to reflect on how far they have come. It really was beautiful to celebrate alongside them, to see them worship God wholeheartedly and thank him for their journey. How amazing that these young women who were once so broken are now in full time employment, caring for their children and serving Jesus along the way. It is clear to see that the amazing staff that love and support them could not have been proud to play small but essential part of their story.

IMG_8262

Getting ready for the graduation

IMG_8237

Dany and one of the graduates

These are just some of the amazing experiences we have had here and this ‘stop along the way’ has been more than we could have imagined. As we prepare to leave on Sunday to continue our journey I want to leave you with this thought;

In church in the UK we often hear people saying they are ‘stirred’ by a country and the potential of mission there. I couldn’t help but think about this as Jonny and I made out way out to the Killing Fields surrounded by slums and sadness. My thoughts were this; being stirred is a pretty useless because stirring is a circular motion and allows us the opportunity to rationalise our thoughts and come full circle. If I am to be a Christian that is only ever ‘stirred’ I would never leave my home, pack up my life and leave for a foreign country let alone go into slum villages or set up a church. And so if I am to be a Christian that wants to change someone’s world then I need to be shaken, driven or catapulted into action because Jesus doesn’t ask me to be merely stirred. We came to Cambodia to serve God and help Davy and Esther in any way we could and it has been so much fun doing it. But for me the greatest lesson has not come from being in church or driving through slums villages, it has come from being in the home of two people, who 5 years ago were obedient to God and catapulted into action.

For this reason we will be forever grateful for what God has done in our hearts in Cambodia and for David and Esther Allen.

Matthew 28:19

“Therefore go & make disciples of all the nations!”

First blog of 2016

Happy New Year to you all, we have missed writing our blogs and we hope you, the reader, have missed it a little bit too! Like yourselves we had a crazy time over Christmas but no matter how busy we are we still really miss our family and friends. For us Christmas is about family and it is those times that we struggle the most being away.

Our special Christmas service went well with over 200 attending and the highlight for me was the dance at the end when four little angels made their debuts along with Sokim, Sok and Kezia. After that Mary and Joseph gave out gifts to the children and we had traditional Khmer curry which was fantastic!

image

Sopheavy and Visal as Mary and Joseph

On New Year’s Eve we had our Countdown party as it is called here, we played games and had some talent show entries. The boys were very close to getting all the votes again this year as Ronan Keating was joined by Boyzone to lift the roof of the place. Chamnap was the star of the show with his bongo drumming and he took singing to a whole new level. After this I brought a short word of reflection and challenge for the incoming year and then we had the countdown.

image

Boyzone

image

Be Free’s entry

As a church we have seen our numbers drop over the last few months; a lot of this is to do with things closing in the area and people moving back to the provinces, also a lot of people have started to study on Sunday mornings. Another factor is in Buddhism people go to the pagoda when they can be bothered and due to that consistency isn’t something people are used to especially when it comes to anything religious, so they come when they have nothing better to do. This year we are trying to help change that mind-set, but also we are starting evening church to accommodate those who study. This commences on Sunday night please pray for Pastor Chamnap as he leads this that we will see many familiar and new faces attending.

We are not ruled or concerned about numbers and we see many positive things happening in Elim, one of those is the English class we are holding. For those of you who know me, especially my family, you will be very surprised, or perhaps shocked, that I am teaching English! Many times people have suggested I sign up as a student! There are about 15 English students of which one is a Christian and the rest are made up of Buddhists and 2 Mormons. We teach conversational English, grammar and English from the Bible. Please pray for all the students but especially the 2 Mormons, they asked for extra classes on the Bible so I am praying that as we study the scales will fall off and they will find Jesus.

At the minute we have a young couple with us Jonny and Holly Thompson from Northern Ireland.   They arrived on Sunday and have been busy getting involved with various things. Holly has been spending a lot of time in Be Free and Jonny has been building relationships with the guys in the centre and using his gift of worship leading at the prayer meeting, staff church and devotions in Be Free. Over the next week they will be taking part in quite a few things in the church and villages, please pray for their health and strength as they serve God in this way. You will hear from Jonny and Holly as they share some of their thoughts in next week’s blog.

We had the pleasure and honour last week to attend our dear friend Julie’s wedding. Many of you who have visited us or read the blog will know that Julie arrived in Cambodia exactly one week after us and we became family looking out for each other. In 2011 we had the privilege of meeting her mum and dad and have waited way too long to see them again. So it was very special seeing Lindsay and Alison again and also meeting her brother Jeff for the first time. We had many reunions with friends who have visited Julie during the last 5 years but we also met people for the first time that we have heard about and it was wonderful to finally meet them for such a special occasion. I had the role of emcee for the evening which was fun and I’m sure you will agree that my wife was truly stunning. We wish Julie and Geoff (her husband and brother have the same name) every blessing as they start out on their big adventure together as Mr & Mrs McGregor!

image

The happy couple

image

Good times with special friends Alison and Lindsay

As we begin this New Year we have many exciting things that lie ahead and some challenges too. We appreciate all the support you give us whether prayerfully or financially, you are a blessing to us all here in Phnom Penh.