Archive for June, 2017

We will never forget them

Today we dedicate this blog to remembering, as many of you will do in your Elim churches tomorrow, about the darkest day of the Elim movement. What you are about to read was how the Vumba massacre was reported two days after the horrific events of the 23rd June 1978. Please know that what you are about to read is disturbing but it is the truth, the truth of martyrs, people who sacrificed their lives for the gospel.

Rhodesian black nationalist guerrillas axed, bayonetted and clubbed eight British missionaries and four of their children to death at an isolated mission school here in the worst mass murder of church representatives and Europeans in Rhodesia’s increasingly grisly civil war.

One other woman missionary was dragged into the bush and assaulted, but was still alive when she was found a short distance from the other victims yesterday morning. She was taken to a hospital in Umtali, where she was reported in serious condition.

The massacre took place Friday when a group of about 29 guerrillas visited the Emmanuel Secondary School in the heart of the mistshrouded and heavily wooded mountains 10 miles southeast of Umtali on the eastern border of Rhodesia.

The school is run by the Elim Mission of a Pentecostal church based in Cheltenham, England. The mission is active in 10 countries, including four in Africa, and operates three mission sites in Rhodesia.

The killings were the most gruesome in a series of attacks on Rhodesian mission stations that have left 33 missionaries and members of their families dead. It appears that the guerrillas’ main objective is to close the schools as part of a campaign to break down government control over the rural government control over the rural population. Many missionaries believe, however, that the guerrillas are Marxists seeking primarily to undermine Christain influence in the country.

Several years ago, guerrillas killed seven Catholic missionaries at a site 35 miles northeast of Salisbury. Two Salvation Army members were killed in southwestern Rhodesia three weeks ago, and an American Baptist missionary, Archie Dunaway, recently was stabbed to death at his mission at Sanyati, 100 miles west of Salisbury.

Robert Mugabe, co-leader of the guerrilla Patriotic Front, said in a statement issued in the Mozambican capital of Maputo that “we are not responsible,” and blamed Rhodesian government forces for the killings at the Pentecostal mission.

Mugabe leads the faction of the patriotic Front known as the Zimbabwe African National Union, whose guerrilla forces operate out of Mozambique only four miles from the school.

Western correspondents who went to the site of the massacre yesterday found the bloody bodies of the 12 victims still sprawled on the wet grass around the school’s sports pavilion, a short distance from the main building.

There were three couples, two single women, three children and a 3-week-old baby.

The murders took place after the guerrillas had given political talks to the 200 pupils attending the school.

An ax was left in the back of a woman wearing hair curlers. Several victims had had their faces bashed in, while one man had been bayonetted repeatedly in the back.

Four of the five women appeared to have been raped, possibly when already dead or unconscious. One woman lay on her back with three children in Pajamas and bathrobes huddled around her.

One of the three men had had his hands tied behind his back before being killed, apparently by an ax.

A short twisted tree branch lay near one group of five bodies. Rhodesian soldiers at the scene said it had been used to club some of the victims.

There was no sign of a struggle.

Visibly shaken by the horror of the scene, school director Ronald Chapman said he had only on Friday signed leases on homes in Umtali so that all the missionaries could live in town and commute to the school. They were to have moved next week.

Several students said the guerrillas arrived at the school shortly after 3 p.m. and ordered all of them to assemble outside the main building. Speaking in both English and Shona, the main African language in Rhodesia, six of the armed guerrillas told the students that they were to clear out no later than Monday and return to their homes.

None of the European missionary teachers were present at the meeting, although several African teachers attended and were not harmed.

“We were afraid, but I didn’t understand what they were saying except that we had to be gone by Monday,” said one student.

It appears there were no witnesses to the killings.

The Elim mission moved its secondary school here from another site in northeastern Inyanga Park last July 27 because of the increasing danger of guerrilla attacks at Inganga. Two of the buses used in the move hit land mines and two students were killed.

The Emmanual School occupies the site of the former Eagle School, which catered to European students and was closed in 1975 because of the deteriorating security situation in the Vumba Mountains.

Now it will be closed again. As reporters were leaving the school site, the students could be seen climbing into four buses to return to their homes.

The army set out after the guerrilla band responsible for the killings, but with the Mozambique border only four miles away and the mountains covered with thick forest, there was little expectation here that they would be found.

This harrowing as it was, was the start of something that could not be contained in Zimbabwe. Those that had carried out the killings were so touched by how the missionaries had acted that they found Jesus, and through them tens of thousands have been saved. Their deaths were not in vain in fact because of the blood of the martyrs, Elim in the following year had more missionary applications than they had had in the previous 5 put together. Elim as a movement was changed in these moments and is missional minded to the core.

On Sunday if you are in an Elim church we will remember those missionaries who paid the ultimate cost on 23rd June 1978: Peter and Sandra McCann and their children, Philip (6) and Joy (4); Philip and Susanne Evans and their daughter, Rebecca (5); Roy and Joyce Lynn and their baby, Pamela Grace (3 weeks old); Wendy White, Catherine Picken, Mary Fisher.

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You will also be given three opportunities to support the work of Elim Missions.  The first is to support ‘Be Church’ by giving as a church to church planting throughout the world. In the last year we have planted 5 new churches here in Cambodia, we have another one starting next month and hopefully another two in the months to follow. One of the driving forces behind that has been having Pastor Chamnap on board and last year Be Church funded his salary to make it possible.

This year other countries need the same help as we received last year so please get behind Be Church.  The second way you can support is to give to Pound by Pound, this is £4 a month, it is specifically for Elim missions general funds which benefits us all in different ways.  It is so important for Elim missions to have a pool of money that can be used for emergencies and special needs, you can go online if your church has no forms and sign up there.

Finally many of the churches will be selling copies of the newly released book “The Axe and the Tree”  that tells an in depth account of what happened leading up to the Vumba massacre, the after effects and the results of what has happened afterwards.  It is an excellent book written by Stephen Griffiths who along with his parents were part of the Missions team but where on furlough when the horrific events took place.

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As I come to the end of this blog I know many will be troubled by what you have read, I encourage you not to be, out of this came forgiveness, hope, salvation and much more. You see the blood of a martyr will never be in vain. My challenge personally is to honour those who die every day for their faith, by making sure I take every opportunity to tell others about Jesus.   What about you are you taking the same opportunities, how much really would it cost you to speak up and speak out?

Church Launch in Kep

Well it’s been one of those weeks that to be honest seem to be happening much more often where we meet ourselves coming back. So many exciting things have happened, significant things, kingdom building things!

Last Saturday Chamnap and I had the honour of hosting the Cambodian Church planting Committee in our new HQ in Kep. Paulerk Sar one of the Cambodian Christian Godfather’s was there and interacted with everybody in our round table discussions, it was a big deal for Elim to hold this and lead the discussions.  It is so exciting to see like minded people committed to having a Christian church or representation in every village in the country by 2021.

Once the meeting finished and everyone left the real madness began getting everything organised for our big ministry launch in Kep on Sunday. Our biggest fear was rain,  something that has been happening way to often for this time of the year. The first thing that went up was the tent for protection from the sun rather than the rain or so we hoped. We had no idea of the numbers to expect at first we thought we should cater for 150 but then at the last minute we decided better to have more than less so we changed it to 200. Our strategy was to give out certificates to 75 of the students and hoped a parent would come and see them receive their award, then we would be able to share Jesus with everyone and get surveys carried out from as many as possible to discover their level of interest. We also invited all those we have got to know in the last 6 months and the neighbours that we have. By the end of Saturday we were ready for whatever lay ahead. It’s not about numbers but the more we could have there the bigger chance we have of having aroused curiosity with the full community.

Sunday morning arrived and when the Phnom Penh church was worshipping we too were praying and spending time as a team preparing for our 2pm start. A young man we had met a few weeks before, a Christian from the capital who had been working for a year in Kep and desperately looking for a church, came to help and just spend the day with us.  He has a real servant heart and will be a big help to the church in the days that lie ahead. With all the final preparations done the team that had lead church in the morning in Phnom Penh arrived after a three hour drive. Sarak got the sound set up and the music organised we were ready to go and just needed the people to come.  At 2pm we had 40 people but praise God by 2.30pm there were 180 present and we got started. Pastor Chamnap was the Master of Ceremonies and Sarak led the worship along with Sok and Vannak, not many knew the songs but we filled the place with beautiful words and truths that will I’m sure have resonated with the spirit of many. I then had the awesome privilege of introducing Sarak and Sophea to everyone explaining they were about to become the Pastor and youth worker in the area. Sarak said a few words that were very well received and then I brought a simple but straight message about Jesus. As I finished we gave out our survey and the results blew our minds.  Out of 59 adults who filled in the survey 18 of them want to be part of a discovery cell group and 44 have invited us into their homes to talk more about Jesus.  This is phenomenal  we are blown away by how amazing our God is. The first church meeting is at 9am this Sunday and we are praying for 10 people but if one turns up it will be a good start!

Thursday was one of the hardest days of my ministry yet, Chamnap, Visal and myself drove to Kep with Sarak and Sophea and little Harry to drop them off and leave them there. When you have mentored someone for four years but also had a relationship that is trusting, caring, loving and you look on the little family as such precious people, it is so  hard to let them go.  But you have to,  that’s the whole point for them to be the giants God wants, they have to be released. We adore them and as we drove of all three of us in the car had a lump in our throats but we know it is right, we know they will be the best they can be because their lives have been totally surrendered to the call and will of God. Please pray for them as the early days of being alone is not easy, trust me we know!

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Sarak, Sophea and Harry

We were delighted to host Katie Dugmore from West Bromwich Community Church over this past week.  Katie is a jewellery designer and runs her own business called ‘Bloom Christian Jewellery’, you can check out her beautiful creations at www.bloomjewellery.uk or on Instagram at bloomchristianjewellery.  Katie spent the week with the girls in Be Free teaching them new skills and we were so impressed by how quickly they grasped the techniques and were then using them to make their own designs.  We look forward to sending the jewellery they will make back to the UK to be sold through Elim’s ‘Shop with Integrity’.  Thank you so much Katie for coming to Cambodia and using your skills to equip the girls in Be Free, and for being such a blessing and encouragement to our team and to us.  We are glad you’ve arrived back home safe and sound, and I’m sure there was a happy reunion with your 4 boys!

Work has begun in our guesthouse this week and we will keep you updated on the progress.  With it being joined onto our house neither of us had thought about the construction noise but we are excited about the finished outcome and how it will be used to host teams and further the work of planting churches in Cambodia.

In closing we want to send special greetings to our two Dads for Father’s Day tomorrow, you are both in our thoughts and prayers and are loved so much.  Also sending our best wishes to our niece Eve, nephew Matthew, my brother Dave and my Mum June as they celebrate their birthdays this week.  Know how loved and special you all are to us and are always in our thoughts and prayers.

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Launch of Kep Elim Church

As I write this blog I’m sitting in Kep, a beautiful seaside resort in Cambodia, it resonates with our hearts because we come from a coastal town. When you live in a metropolis like Phnom Penh which is overcrowded, over polluted and constantly busy sometimes you need that peace, quiet and sea air.   As I’m sitting here my heart is bursting with joy, excitement and expectation because we are about to launch a church in this seaside haven.

Esther and I have been coming to Kep once or twice a year since we arrived in Cambodia, it is the place we go to for refreshment and times of renewal. I have had some really special moments with God here – visions given, strategies developed and clarity of mind. It was our safe place to get away and recharge, you know that place.  For some of you it will be a favourite holiday destination, others a simple place in your town or city or even just a quiet room in your home but it is your safe place for God moments and special times with your family. Two years ago that all changed for us and started, I believe, what is about to happen on Sunday.  We were out for dinner and chatting as we usually do to the waiters and waitresses, they love practicing their English.  Everything was good until I asked the question ‘have you ever heard of Jesus?’  A question I often asked but this time the response stopped us both in our tracks, it made us realise that like so many more before and since we were blind to what was happening. It was truly a God moment, the young lady said that of course we have heard about your Jesus, so many of you Christians come for 2 or 3 days tell us we need Jesus and then go away, nobody ever comes and stays, there is no church, nobody cares that much.

Imagine if that was said to you, could you believe it?  I was absolutely distressed, we were ashamed that we were part of that group. A group that came and went but didn’t really care because if we started a church it wouldn’t be our safe place anymore, it would cost us dearly. How much would it cost you, think about it?  How much would telling those around you about Jesus cost you?   It might cost you time, it might cost you money or it might even cost you more. The question is are you willing to step out of the comfort zone and accept the call on your life, some might say what call or I’m waiting for that call.  Friends you’ve already been called by Jesus, the great commission was for all of us, not just a group that Jesus discipled but us all. Go into your world and make disciples! On Saturday morning Pastor Chamnap and I will be hosting a round table of church planters, people who are disciple makers. What about you, who is your mission field, who are you going to disciple? If you don’t those people you are maybe scared of are lost.  Brothers, sisters it’s a battle let’s not walk away.

On Sunday Esther and I will surrender self gain for the lives of thousands, I don’t say this in a look at us way;  I say it because there is no other way. The people are going to hell and they need Jesus.  As a church we are making a big sacrifice we are sending two of our best to to Pastor the work in Kep, Sarak and Sophea will be heading to the coast to take up their new roles over the next week, please pray for them. We deeply value your prayers for Sunday and the days that lie ahead, Jesus died for Kep and they need to know that! If anyone wants to help Sarak and Sophea set up home in Kep or support the work there please donate on our page you will find it at the side.  Give us an indication of what the money is for when you donate, please don’t wait for others because what happens is everyone waits and no one donates.   If God is prompting you please don’t resist, God will truly bless you!

 

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Sarak, Sophea & Harry being prayed for

I want to finish today saying thanks, first of all to my lovely wife and all of you who have helped me celebrate turning 47 years old, friends it’s passing by way too fast and I’m not going to waste a minute I promise. Secondly I cannot allow Brian and Rachel Henry to leave without expressing our deep appreciation for their friendship, what an amazing couple; Wellsprings Elim is truly blessed to have them. They are giants in our eyes in the faith and replicate Jesus in so many different ways as they walk through life’s journey. True legends and we love you both.  You are in our thoughts and we are praying for your building and the move of the “Holy Spirit” that’s on its way.

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Brian & Rachel at Kep

As you go about your business today these words resonate in my heart and I hope they encourage you to do something about your mission field today. These are the words of the late great Martin Luther King.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness only light can do that,

hate cannot drive out hate only love can do that”.

Guest blog by Pastor Brian

It is always interesting to see how things develop and it is just over a year and a half since we last visited Cambodia. Keeping in touch over a long distance is never easy although it helps to spend some time in a place and to see for yourselves how things are going. Rachel and I were able to do that for the last couple of weeks and loved every minute.

“But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”

Much of the work still revolves around the children in Cambodia. From the welcome by the wonderful children in the Early Learning Centre, to the work with the children in the villages to the exciting new church about to be officially launched in Kep. In Kep we had just an hour or so playing some games and having some snacks with the English students on Cambodia’s International Children’s Day. What potential for these children and young people in the hands of the living and loving God!

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Very competitive Musical Chairs

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Enjoying the fruit snacks

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

All in all it was such a blessing in church that day with some great Khmer curry to finish things off while the baptismal pool was filled with the children having great fun together.

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Nita’s Mum getting baptised

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Tasty Khmer curry

When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

Some of the most useful times in our visit come when Rachel does her medical clinics. Most people in the villages are simply in need of good basic healthcare advice – drink lots and eat well.

This year we upgraded the equipment we had with the ability to check blood pressure. Rachel started by checking the staff and I am pleased to say most were fine, with just a few needing rechecked soon in case of ongoing problems.

Prayer also forms part of the holistic care offered to all. Ultimately, God is the healer and we trust Him. Anyone willing to pray for a 7 year old girl who is deaf and unable to speak? As with Jesus our compassion is to see her healed, hearing and speaking!

With the expert translation of Pastor Chamnap many people were checked and able to get some help. Some were referred to local clinics to get further checks carried out. Other sound advice included – don’t climb trees at your age, otherwise you may fall out again and hurt yourself. You are probably tired because, in addition to not eating well and not drinking much water, helping the builders next door build their house is too much for you at 83! Also watch out for falling coconuts and mangoes (which tasted really nice!).

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An elderly lady getting her BP checked

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Most delicious mango 

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

Flexibility is the key to life in Cambodia, for us anyway when we visit. There are lots of opportunity to eat and drink with friends and co-workers of David and Esther. Great opportunities to network and meet people who do amazing things.

However, the most amazing things we see (yes, we are biased) are done by Elim Cambodia. Church Planting, Be Free, Early Learning Centre, working the the villages and in Kep, taking every opportunity to advance the gospel of Jesus. That is what we all aspire to do and we see in abundance with the the Elim team here.

If anyone reading this has any spare money then please consider supporting the work in Elim Cambodia. Not a single dollar is wasted. The work is advancing the gospel and the focus remains on Jesus. I cannot think of a better work to support!