Archive for February, 2017

A Week of Congratulations!

I must start this week’s blog of by saying Happy Birthday to not one, not two, but five very special people in our lives. Our beautiful niece Alex turned twenty one on Wednesday, she shared her birthday with our truly amazing boss Paul Hudson, he’s a little older than Alex but only just. On Thursday it was our Scottish sister Debbie’s birthday and then on Friday our very special nephew ‘wee Andrew’ (who is like a giant compared to us both) turned 17, I know it’s crazy we can’t believe he’s 17. Last but certainly not least it was our sister in law Helga’s birthday yesterday as well.  On top of this we must congratulate one of our dearest friends Colleen, who is celebrating 20 years in Cambodia this week, we are so blessed to have you in our lives!

Next week on Wednesday we will be celebrating 6 years in Cambodia and we are so thankful to God for the journey he has taken us on. Yes we know it hasn’t always been easy but it has been a joy working with so many wonderful people. Our Cambodian family are just amazing, we are so blessed to have you all in our lives, and you are living proof that when God decided we wouldn’t have children that he had bigger and better plans for our lives. Friends today I encourage you to stop stressing but to put your hearts desires into God’s hands and trust that He knows what He is doing. Not easy I know but we have walked a very difficult path and through that and those experiences we both know God is Sovereign and He knows best.

We are getting close to that time when we go back to the UK to speak about the work we are doing and have some extremely precious time with family and friends. This year we are in Northern Ireland from the 29th March until 4th May and then in England for 2 exciting conferences from 4th May until we return to Cambodia on the 14th May. We are so looking forward to seeing our Mums and Dads, Aunts and Uncles, spending time with our brothers and sisters and cousins, and spoiling our nephews and nieces. The icing on top of the cake this year is not only five weeks staying at the McKee’s house but to be able to attend our adopted daughter Emma’s wedding to Matty will be so special.

1

Matty & Emma in their Khmer style t-shirts!

We need your help!  Over the last number of years our very generous friends Marc and Gayle Bunting have given us the use of a car and we have been so blessed.   Unfortunately they cannot help us this year which is totally understandable and we want to thank them from the bottom of our hearts along with my Auntie Avril and Uncle Cecil who also blessed us two years ago. We have 15 speaking engagements in Northern Ireland and we need to get about a lot as well as travelling for those special family moments.  We need to ask if anyone would be able to help us by lending us a car for the five weeks and if at all possible adding me to your insurance to which I would cover the cost. I hope you understand how much we really hate asking but would be so blessed by your help. If you can help or know someone that might be able to please email us at davyandesther@gmail.com

Finally I want to say a massive thank you to Elim Church Selly Oak and Lakeside Church for allowing us to have the honour of having your Pastors and James out to visit us recently. We had the most wonderful time showing them around but also learning from them as they sowed into our lives. We want to thank them all for the blessings they have brought to us and we know the already established friendships and the new ones will last forever.  You are so blessed to have Godly men leading you and serving you in the way they do!

12

Thank you Elim Church Selly Oak & Lakeside Church!

Cambodian adventure

This was my third visit to our Elim work in Cambodia and the purpose was twofold; to gain an understanding of how the work is developing and to deliver two days of leadership development. I was accompanied by James Wilton, who serves with me as an elder in the Elim Church Selly Oak and Richard Vernon and Mark Savage, who pastor Lakeside Church (Elim) in Southport.

It is always a joy to spend time with David and Esther, as they aren’t just missionaries that we support they have become friends. Our church in Selly Oak have been supporters of the work in Cambodia ever since we heard of the tremendous work that is being done to restore the lives of girls who have suffered at the hands of those who only had harm in mind.

 With each visit I have seen progress with the work and in the lives of the team as they seek to bring the kingdom of God to the people of Cambodia. Let me share some highlights of this trip starting with the church in Phnom Penh:

There is such a buzz about the centre and focus on reaching people for Jesus is evident in every sphere of life. The church leadership is tight in vision and relationships, just the way it should be. The recent addition to Chamnap to the pastoral team has clearly been a good one! He holds the respect of people and has a sharp strategic mind which is a real gift in light of the vision to plant churches. David’s pastoral heart is clear in the way that he leads the team, he really does seek to bring the very best out of the people in his care and convey value to the people in ways that enable them to be all that God has purposed them to be. Sarak and the church planting team, based from the centre in Phnom Penh, are a group of gifted individuals with a passion for Jesus and it is clear that the hand of God is on this group of people to make a significant impact for the kingdom of God. Nita and the team at the ELC do an amazing work too in creating a happy and fun environment for the kids to learn.

9

David, Visal, Chamnap & Sarak

It was a wonderful to speak to the team about leadership and help them understand their gifting. Whenever you do something like this you hope it translates well to a different culture and that it is helpful! I was so impressed by their eagerness to learn and grow. God will do a lot through a people who are humble and willing to learn! It was unfortunate that Richard wasn’t able to deliver his talks for this part of the trip but I’m sure he’ll use that as a valid reason to visit again!

11

Speaking at the Leadership Development Conference

As Richard noted in his guest post last week, it was an absolute privilege to be able to attend the graduation ceremony of two young ladies from the Be Free programme. We got to hear a little of their stories of brokenness to meeting Jesus and beginning the journey of being made whole by Jesus is wonderful to see. It reminds me that we all have different stories but in some way or another were all broken by the affect of sin (our own and those of others) and it really is only Jesus who can restore and make us whole. When the girls reach the end of the 12 month whole-life discipleship programme they are helped into good working environments and given the chance of a life they could have only dreamed of were it not for Jesus; the work of Esther, Sokim and Channak who lead the project. If you’re looking for a project to support oversea that is doing an incredible work then look no further than Be Free. One off gifts are good but what really makes a difference is consistent monthly giving. If you’re a church leader reading this, could your church become a partner church with Be Free or as an individual could you give regularly to this cause?

10

The girls in Be Free praying for us before we left Cambodia

Finally, I was really excited to be able to visit Toul K’day village again and see those who came to faith around the time of my last visit, not only still attending the church but actively involved. It is easy to see why David and the team have identified Kep as the location for the next church plant, it is a beautiful location but doesn’t have any church there and is surrounded by 18 villages. The guys have a strategic approach to church planting and are committed to the cause! I have no doubt next time I visit it will be to an established church in Kep!

All in all I’ve left Cambodia so encouraged by what God is doing through people sold out for Jesus and so open handed with what they have been given. As always when you go on a mission’s trip you leave with great expectation with what you will do but always come away with so much more. But then that is a kingdom principle isn’t it – if we want to grow we’ve got to give away what we already have to make room for more! My prayer for the work in Cambodia is that as they give away what they have that God would multiply the harvest of people coming to Jesus.

Guest blog by Richard

I first met David & Esther in June 2016 when they came to our church to share about the work they are involved with in Cambodia. They came highly recommended. From that first meeting, I could see why. Their morning with us was incredibly moving as they talked openly about all they are doing here not only in Phnom Penh but their vision to reach out and plant churches all across the nation. We’ve had some great Elim missionaries come to us in the past but there was something about this couple that instantly drew us to them. Chatting afterwards, it became apparent that they felt it too and an invitation was handed to myself and my colleague Mark Savage to join Iain Hesketh in February 2017 to accompany him to see the work first hand.

As I write this, we are coming to the end of day five of our week long trip. It has been significant in so many ways. To begin with, the way they have taken the work on here is inspirational to see. The Elim Community Centre situated in the capital houses an Early Years Centre that reaches out into the community, a spacious meeting room that hosts a number of meetings throughout the week including their Sunday gatherings, along with the work of Be Free Cambodia that is rebuilding the lives of young Khmer girls caught up in the sex trafficking industry.

6

Elim Centre in Phnom Penh

Last evening we were privileged to attend the graduation ceremony of two such girls whose lives have been radically transformed by Jesus as a result of this work so sensitively and lovingly led by Esther who in every way has become their surrogate mum, something they’ve never really experienced before. Only the hardest of hearts would have remained untouched as we sat and listened to their stories of redemption and restoration, of lives being rescued from this terrible industry that is rife throughout this nation that has experienced such devastation towards the latter part of last century, and that is still very much recovering from its effects.

2

Be Free Graduation

There is a growing team of young Cambodian men and women who are nurturing a dream to see their beautiful country transformed and to play a tiny part during our stay in helping shape their thinking and release some hope and encouragement in how to go about this is a real honour. The love they have for David and Esther is evident for all to see and already this is shaping up in some rural church plants that have been established where they are already seeing people come to Christ.

7

Driving to Tuol K’day

5

Happy Kids Club

3

Leadership Development Conference

For myself and Mark, our hearts have been arrested – both by the Khmer people, but especially by David & Esther and as our primary trip here draws near to end, I am confident and hopeful there will be many more to come as we seek to support them in whatever way we can. May I encourage you to spread the word and seek to extend an invitation for others to get behind them?

Richard Vernon

Lead Pastor

Lakeside Church, Southport

 

Be Free Cambodia

Almost four years ago Elim’s International Missions Director sat with Esther and asked what did she want to do in Cambodia, what was her heart. Before we think about her response I have to say Paul showed his love and trust that day to us both by believing in Esther.  He was saying ‘I know you can do this’, we will forever be thankful for that. If you’re a leader today don’t be scared to let people live out their calling, Paul wasn’t scared.

Esther’s response has already impacted over 20 young ladies who have come through the program that was birthed from those discussions. In the week that lies ahead we have the Graduation of two more trainees, girls who are unrecognisable from when they came into the program. They along with many girls that have come before have found Jesus, been baptised and become part of the missional disciple making community we call our church family. They have been restored through the program which holistically helps in many areas of each girl’s life but ultimately true restoration comes through relationship with Jesus.

1

The girls that come into the program have the most horrifying disgusting stories of abuse to levels that you just couldn’t totally understand. We don’t a lot of the time even though we are faced with things every day. We don’t and won’t talk about individual situations but what you need to understand that every girl that comes into our program has been severely brutalised, they need to be cherished and loved by Esther and her team. They are not easy to deal with certainly at the start but who would be having lived the lives they have lived.

But the good news is we have seen girls time and time again beat the odds that are stacked against them, we have seen the chains that have shackled their lives being broken and in the place the freedom of restoration coming in.  They can lift their heads with no shame, they can smile with true joy and not just to please someone.

18

So far we have had three girls graduate and move into our Early Learning Centre, we have seen six girls go into catering of one form or another, we have some girls who are pursuing tailoring and now one of the girls has just become a church planter. Seriously this is the most crazy thing of all, totally broken and in dire need of help this girl joins the program, graduates and goes to work in a catering job, a good job yet when she seen we had an opening she applied. When we interviewed her she was like a different person to that girl who came to meet Esther shy, timid, scared with no hope. Now she will be going into villages and bringing the Good news of Jesus!

Friends, Be Free Cambodia is a brilliant program that focuses on restoration through Jesus and the way He taught us to live. I know many of you who read this blog are connected to Elim, some of you aren’t but today I want to talk to you if you are Elim. Pastors, brothers, sisters we need your help like never before, our program is struggling to survive financially. We need to make it sustainable through churches partnering with us, if we can find 13 churches who can commit to £250 a month it will keep the program alive and give girls who have been sexually abused the chance to be made whole again. Your church may not be able to give £250 but could be 1/2 a donor with £125 or whatever is possible, anything would be a blessing. So far we have six churches on board, we are almost halfway there, but please if you have a church and you can partner with us please contact Naomi in the Elim International Missions office in Malvern at Naomi.Williams@elimhq.net or email ourselves. We are Elim, we belong to you, this project belongs to you; let’s be church by working together to give more girls this same opportunity. Please today make a decision to commit to being a Be Free church.

You can also help by donating monthly as an individual by sponsoring a girl in the program at £25 a month, again we would so appreciate this from wherever you are in the world. Click on this link  dd-form-cambodia-be-free-trainee-april-2016_4 where you can download a direct debit form, complete it and return to Elim HQ. Finally there is also our PayPal button on this page and if you really want to donate something small or large please just mark Be Free on it.

We hate asking for money, we really do but please know our hearts.  If you knew these girls’ stories, if you saw their broken lives and then you saw them 12 months later I know every one of you would do whatever was needed to save Be Free. As you ponder over how you could be involved we pray that God will guide you and bless you abundantly!