Archive for October, 2016

Update by Emily

The last number of weeks have been a whirlwind of time flying so fast I don’t even know where it’s gone. I am pretty much over half way through my time here, and yet it still seems so crazy to think that I’m living in one of the most insane cities I’ve ever experienced. 

I don’t know if it is the common feeling when moving to another country, even for a short stint, to have those moments that make you stop, shake your head, and smile to yourself in disbelief of what you have seen and experienced that is so different to life back home. Some of those moments for me, would be when I waded through flooded roads to get to English class. On the way, I lost a flip flop, retrieved flip flop with some difficulty, and then stood under the garage for some shelter and pondered what on earth I was doing. It was torrential rain, and even though Elim is only a few minutes walk from home, part of me thought whether it was even safe. I mean, the roads were literally transformed into a river. After a few moments I saw how the Cambodians just get on with life as normal no matter the weather – there’s no complaining from them like what we hear back home. I made my way out of my little shelter, took off my flip flops so I didn’t lose them again, and waded through the flood. On my way I encountered one of the ELC staff who shared her umbrella and guided me through to avoid the potholes that were obviously no longer visible. Another moment was riding on the back of a moto in the sidesaddle position in a dress and heels, which then led to many moments throughout Sokim’s wedding that had me in wonder at the experience. That will be a day that I will never forget. From wearing a Khmer dress, having makeup and hair done, travelling down in a tuktuk being stared at, the rain that came through the chandeliers, to the way everyone pulled together and moved the party inside. One of the biggest moments of realisation that I am living in a foreign city was when I managed to make my way on my own in a tuktuk from one area of the city to Elim. I did have the help of a satnav app on my phone, but I can now get around by myself if ever I need to get anywhere. 

Most recently, I have had the incredible blessing of having my mum and stepdad come to visit Cambodia. It was a tearful reunion at the airport, and again I’m in sheer disbelief that their time here is already coming to an end. I have loved having them here, seeing them react to the craziness of the city, from the traffic to the markets and learning the ways of the country. Mum has spent time with the girls in Be Free while Simon has spent time with the guys and had his own crazy experiences within the first few days of arriving. It’s been lovely to show them around the city, to share with them my favourite little places to go and have a coffee and a cupcake, and share with what is happening out here. They have discovered more in depth of the painful history of Cambodia, which still affects the Khmer people today and has given them a deeper understanding. We have been to the village, they have taken part in our English conversation classes in the evening, and they have fallen in love with the people.


At Happy Kids Club

This week, we took a trip up to Siem Reap to see more of Cambodia’s history. Spanning back to ancient times, the Angkor Wat temples are one of the seven wonders of the world. I am most definitely not a morning person, but seeing the sunrise over Angkor Wat will be one of those moments that will stay with me. It was a beautiful sight to see the sky painted in stunning colours and worth the early wake up. The differences between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh are huge – I enjoyed a few days of nature, of being around natural beauty and hearing birds sing and breathing in fresher air. The traffic wasn’t as intense and it seemed a lot more relaxed. I didn’t expect to have experienced any of that – my small island mind had the notion that every place classed as a city had to be as crazy as each other. One of my highlights was meeting my favourite animal: the elephant. I was in awe. I stroked his trunk, looked into his eye and felt that although I couldn’t believe I had seen, and touched, an elephant, I felt a pang of sadness that these magnificent creatures had been taken from their natural habitats to be used for tourists.


Sunrise at Angkor Wat


Mirror reflection in the lake


Mum and Simon enjoying boat trip in Siem Reap

This evening, I had another moment of stilling myself and thinking, wow. When I go back home, I like to think I won’t complain about the weather again. Mum and Simon finally experienced a day in Cambodia’s rainy season as we travelled in the back of a tuktuk, which quickly turned into a torrential thunderstorm. They were in disbelief at the flooded roads; I was in disbelief that I’d gotten myself caught out in it again! At least this time we were in a sheltered mode of travel; mum and Simon got dropped off at the hotel and then I carried on home. On my way, it really struck me how safe I felt. As Corrie ten Boom famously said: “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” I thanked God that we had met a tuktuk driver who knows his way. Not being able to see anything in the covered up tuktuk, I felt so thankful that I wouldn’t have had to try and navigate the driver home. I was safe in the back, trusting the driver to get me home even though the weather was going crazy outside. In the middle of a storm, I felt safe and I trusted. It hit me how much I sometimes question God in times that I feel in the middle of a storm, and how much I try to find refuge and solace in things other than the One who has the ability to calm a storm, the One who is our refuge and strength in times of trouble. My trust is often misplaced, yet I am continually reminded that I need to wholly, fully, completely trust God, in every season, every circumstance, every moment.

Time goes fast, and goodbyes are difficult. I’m not looking forward to Sunday, but even then; God is good. God is faithful. God is in my every moment and knows my every feeling and knows my future. Holding on to truth and His faithfulness even when my emotions are a rollercoaster is something that I am learning every day. It has been a blessed two weeks with family, and although I’m sad it’s coming to an end, I’m happy that they have come, seen, and experienced life in Cambodia.

Breaking New Ground

I have written many times about the church planting we are carrying out in Cambodia. Some of you will have heard about our vision to plant churches over the next five years and we are really excited about it! On Thursday we had 31 Cambodians come to the village church in Toul K’day where Sarak comes from, it was so encouraging!

But today I want to tell you what goes into starting a church whether it is in a village or in a city.  The difference is a city church is more advanced having weekly activities to cater for everyone – a Sunday service with Sunday school, prayer meetings, groups for youth, men and women, Bible study in small groups, and usually it will have a building to operate from.  The village set up is a house church that is birthed out of the city church, it has a group of people coming together meeting like a cell group in one of the local houses. The reason we need the city church is to act as a hub in that province so that all resources including those that go will come out of the city church.

Recently I have felt God leading us to a coastal city called Kep.  We have been there many times but there are no Christian churches around the area, they have many mosques and we have felt burdened to go and to do! So on Tuesday Pastor Chamnap, Pastor Sarak, Simon (Emily’s stepdad) and myself set off to see what doors would open for us, and to sense if this is what God wants us to do.


Our transformed vehicle with rain covers in place

When we arrived there after a 3 hour drive we met up with a young man Vuthey whom Esther and I had met with Roy and Lainey not so long ago.  He took us to the village he comes from and we got to meet his family. We talked about the possibility of having a village church at his home which not only he but his wife’s aunt who lives next door were very happy to allow us to start.  We talked about the surrounding area, the children and ways to get the locals interested in the good news we want to share with them. Please pray for Vuthey, he is an amazing young man who isn’t saved yet but he will be one day soon!


Making our way to Vuthy’s village


Vuthy with his wife and child


Family members

After this we met with an amazing Christian couple Brian and Savvy at their coffee shop.  We spent an hour and a half chatting about the locals, the things they observed as the biggest needs and we asked for any advice they could give us. It was a really informative time and then we had the privilege to pray for them and their three beautiful children.

The next morning was key to everything as we visited the Ministry of Cult and Religion.  This is where you go to receive permission to do anything in the province. We met with the main guy and he was very happy that we had respected him and came to see him before we started anything. We gave him our church registration forms and he was more than happy when he seen them. In fact, he offered to help us in so many ways and said that he has been wanting a Christian church to come because there are only mosques and one other kind of church!

To be honest as we were leaving we were all blown away at how many doors God had opened.  We finished our trip by trying to see the new Alongsiders project ‘Shalom Valley’ but both ours and Dave Greenfield’s vehicle got stuck in the mud and the locals helped to push us out, bless their hearts!


Where we got stuck in the mud!

As we travelled back to the city we really felt that God is opening many doors for us and now we have to proceed with stepping through those doors. One of the things we need most, as usual, is finance.  It will take money to make these things happen and maybe you would like to join us by partnering in this way.  If you do please hit the ‘support’ button that is provided for you.  We can’t all go, we can’t all be on the frontline but what you can do is make it possible for us to breakthrough and make advancements for the kingdom!  Why not become a donor partner or prayer partner today!


Friends and a Wedding


It has been the most wonderful few weeks, we have had our best friends the McKee’s with us and just spending quality time with them was enough but so many exciting things happened as well. There were fun reunions Ruth, Emma and Heather arrived first without their luggage which seems to be more of a trend recently, then the next day Phil flew in from China and finally Matty arrived on Tuesday.  So by Tuesday dinner time we were all back together again, one big happy family!

The girls spent the two weeks in Be Free and helping put together the Christmas packs for the sponsor a child program we have.  If you want to find out more about this send us an email to Phil on the other hand converted our pickup truck by putting seats and a covering on the back.  It is fantastic, he had the help of our village team and they enjoyed working on this project. Our vehicle has now changed from a 5 seater to at least an 11 seater, this enables the whole team to travel to different villages. Matty got stuck in were ever he was needed and we thank God for the times he was able to minister and pray for people! Everyone visited Tuol Kday village on the Thursday helping out at Happy Kids Club, having lunch and hammock time, and then fellowship over food, worship and Sarak bringing a message in the afternoon church service.  It was two years since the McKee’s were here so it was encouraging for them to witness the growth in ministries and individuals, Phil shared about this when he spoke in the prayer meeting on Wednesday evening.


The girls loved every minute of working in Be Free


Introducing themselves to Happy Kids Club 1


Emma leading an energetic game


Our transformed vehicle making first journey to the airport


Passengers will stay dry and also have windows, a great job!

We love our lives in Cambodia but it is difficult sometimes being so far from home so it was really special to have these wonderful, loving friends with us.  Not just to do life but also to share in the other big event of the last few weeks which was Sokim and Somnang’s wedding. Esther and I were asked by Sokim to play the role of her parents and we were very honoured and blessed to do that for her.

The wedding day started for Esther at 5.30 am to get hair and makeup done at the centre, the rest of us arrived for the fruit parade at 7.30 am. The morning then consisted of breakfast, the fruit ceremony then the Christian marriage ceremony which was similar to a western ceremony. I had the role of walking Sokim down the aisle and then when I gave her away I worked along with Pastor Chamnap with the preaching and the vows. We were finished the morning proceedings by 11.30 am which allowed us to have the afternoon to get ready for the evening meal and party.


A humbling moment


Saying their vows


A beautiful family


With the newlyweds

The evening came along with torrential rain the marquee that was set up for the guests to have dinner was at risk of collapsing under the weight of the water!  As we had about 180 guests by this time we had to move the tables, food and guests into the church.  Surprisingly it all came together ok, Praise God!  The Bride and Groom smiled throughout it and the rain didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits.  It turned out to be lots of fun for everybody and as usual our Cambodian brothers and sisters rallied round and helped Sokim and Somnang in so many ways. I want to thank all the people who helped make the wedding run smoothly, what you did for your friends was so kind and we pray God blesses you all for the help you gave.   As you will see from the photos everybody, especially the bride and groom, look stunning on the day.


The wedding marquee

Please join with us in praying for the bride and groom for a strong start to their marriage, for Sokim’s daughter Chiera as she develops a relationship with Somnang that it will remain strong. Also for all of our married couples in the church, ourselves included, that God will keep all our marriages strong.

Finally if you feel challenged with any of the work we do either in the Early Learning Centre, Be Free or Church Planting and you want to sew into it we now have a new donate button that will allow you to give money to the need you feel led to support.  At the minute the pound to dollar exchange rate is really making things difficult so any help is appreciated and will go directly to the area you state you want it to go to. Thank you for your kindness as always blessings to you all!

In closing I want to take a few minutes to wish my Father a very Happy Birthday for Tuesday.  Esther and I would love to be with you to celebrate but know how much you will be in our thoughts and prayers.  I’m sure you will be spoiled rotten and allowed to enjoy all your favorite things.  Sending much love from the both of us, and Meg and Ruby, on your special day!


Cambodia for Christ

We have been hugely blessed to have Roy and Lainey Hitchman, Elim missionaries in Hungary, spend the past month in Cambodia.  Their ministry impacted each life they came in contact with and are so thankful for them giving up their time to come and minister to our Khmer family.  It was a privilege for us to get to know Roy and Lainey, as we had just talked on skype before,  they are a very special couple that we are honoured to have as friends!  If you would like to know more about their ministry you can visit their website

Roy is our guest blogger this week and we are grateful for him sharing some thoughts from his time in Cambodia.  There will be no blog next Saturday as we have a very special occasion taking place, Sokim and Somnang are getting married! We are delighted and thank God for bringing this precious couple together.  Please pray for them as they begin a new life together.


Sokim & Somnang

Lainey and I have just returned from a month-long ministry trip to Cambodia … and Cambodia stole our hearts. Cambodia, from its beautiful countryside and coastline to the oh-so-packed city of Phnom Penh and the crazy, crazy traffic, you have changed us. But it was never the country; it was the people. Never have we visited a country where the people have such beautiful hearts and welcoming smiles. This was particularly true in and around the Church, the Early Learning Centre and Be Free. From early morning to early evening the church centre was buzzing with a sense of community and fellowship that any church would desire.

It didn’t take long though to discover that behind each smile lay an individual who was either hurting from past trauma or struggling with immediate physical needs. The level of brokenness that lies beneath the surface is heartbreaking, and yet the Khmer continue to smile and get on with overcoming the challenges of a life where making a living is difficult, and the demands of family loyalty often result in debts not of their own making.

Privileged is the word Lainey and I would use to describe how we felt after being given the opportunity to work alongside David and Esther Allen and their fantastic teams. We went to deposit some teaching to help improve family relationships, to be a blessing to the church, but we came away with so much more.

Lainey and I have been working in the area of marriage, family and relationships for 23 years, helping Christian couples who find themselves in a marriage or family crisis. More recently we have been working alongside missionaries, helping them to navigate the stresses of the mission field and ensure that those stresses don’t negatively impact their marriage and therefore their ministry. What has all of this got to do with Cambodia? Well simply this, David and Esther had asked us to come and work with the marriages and engagements of all their staff and provide marriage, parenting and finance seminars for those in the Church. We were also able to meet with some beautiful couples who were preparing to get married. Every morning we were able to join the Be Free girls for their devotionals and loved being able to share principles that addressed some of the challenges they were facing. Every lunchtime we were able to meet with some of the Early Learning Centre staff and teach them also.


Studying God’s word in Be Free


Honoured to spend time with Sokim & Somnang in preparation for their wedding

The time we spent at the centre was amazing for Lainey and I. So many new things. As we watched, we learned. We saw the love David and Esther had for each person they met whether within the church or out in the community. We saw how they led their leaders and imparted instruction and vision. We saw the dedication and commitment of Chamnap and Nita as they led the Church and Early Learning Centre teams. We saw the love between Esther and the Be Free girls she disciples. We saw the commitment of Emily and Thida as they endeavoured to teach the Khmer English. So important as this would open up opportunities to these young people that wouldn’t have existed before. We saw the dedication to studying and applying God’s principles to lives as we taught in workshops, presented seminars or counselled couples during the intervals between events. We saw the hope that this great community fostered in the lives of all involved.

Our month in Cambodia seemed to pass so quickly. We experienced special moment after special moment, many of which remain with us as sweet, sweet memories. One of these events was the day we travelled to one of the outlying villages with the village church planting team. The day included a spectacular journey across a wide slow moving river on the most rustic ferry I have ever seen. However, this was not the highlight of the day. On arrival at the village, we witnessed children gravitating towards the concreted area beneath a first-floor house that was used for church, excited about the children’s church that was about to start. After children’s church, we again experienced a fantastic sense of community as the adult church members joined for a meal before praise and worship started and led to enthusiastic preaching as they studied the Word together. Currently, two other churches just like this one have also been planted in similar villages and there are plans in place to plant many, many more churches.


Waiting to board our ferry


Sarak’s family home where HKC and church takes place


Children starting to arrive for HKC


Church in the village

After seeing the simplicity of church, the community development and the dedication of the church planting teams, we are convinced that Cambodia for Christ is a real possibility. A vision birthing a strategy that involves planting churches across the nation in villages, towns and cities. But churches are groups of people, not buildings, and people here (like everywhere, but it is so very visible here) have a brokenness that can only be healed by a relationship with Jesus. Please pray for the work in Cambodia and please consider investing in the work that David, Esther and the team are doing with your prayers, your giftings and even by simply giving financially to this work. If God is leading you to give financially, you can do so easily using the support button in the sidebar of this blog.