Archive for September, 2017

Guest blog by Paul Hudson

Firstly, let me just say I don’t want any of our missionaries having bright ideas about getting the International Missions Director to write their newsletters and blogs for them! This is definitely a one-off!

That said, I am delighted to have been asked to write the Allens blog this week as I return from an amazing conference hosted by Elim Cambodia in Phnom Penh.

The first Elim Global Asia conference was simply breath-taking! Delegates from Pakistan, India, Samoa, New Zealand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Nepal, Myanmar and the UK experienced a mixture of laughter, tears and divine moments. To find the words to express what happened is difficult. But every time Elim Global holds a conference whether in the Americas, Africa or now Asia, God does something truly amazing. Europe is lagging behind a bit and one will be arranged shortly.

The World Leaders Conference in May 2018 held in the UK will have hundreds present!

But I am not writing the blog about that. But this ….

There are many short term mission teams going into Phnom Penh every week, not just from Elim. The teams stay in hotels and guest houses and the costs can be substantial. Through the help of Elim Churches and individuals in the UK we have opened our first Guest house where teams can have their own space next door to David and Esther’s home. On offer is a fast wifi, showers, toilets and AC in every room, lounge spaces and a well-stocked kitchen where teams will be able to experience the delights of true Khmer food prepared for them by our very own Cambodian cook after a day of gospel work.

We used the accommodation for the conference and all the National leaders who stayed were delighted with the facilities.

In a few weeks we will be having a re-launch of our short term missions work in Elim Cambodia. We have exciting new plans and we have reworked the price structure of coming to Cambodia. The flights are always a difficulty depending on the time of year but what we can provide is a high quality accommodation that will support an inspiring and life-changing experience of working in Cambodia. The prices of staying in Cambodia will come down dramatically because of the Guest House. But now for the exciting part: all the profits from the Guest house are going to further the work of Church planting in Cambodia! Praise God!

So watch this space ….!

Extreme Makeover Cambodian Edition

One of my favorite television shows used to be Extreme Makeover Home Edition where designers raced against the clock to completely renovate a house for a deserving family.  For the past three months David and I, along with our amazing team, have been racing against time to complete our guesthouse renovation.  I think if David wasn’t already bald by choice he would have pulled his hair out by now with the number of challenges we encountered in the process.  He has worked tirelessly along with Chamnap and Dren from the very beginning negotiating contracts, employing builders, electricians, plumbers, painters etc.  There are many stories to share about the renovations and we are just so relieved and thrilled to have completed the project  in time!

 

From the outset we want to thank the churches and individuals who have enabled this project to be completed.  We are so excited about how the guesthouse will be used to host individuals and teams who will further the work of Elim Cambodia.  Dren has been an incredible help from when he was asked to take on the role of project manager assisting David and overseeing the sub contractors.  We want to thank Phil McKee for spending two weeks working alongside Dren helping with so many jobs that needed done.

Over the past 3 months Lyly, who will be the manager when teams are here, has worked so hard, along with all of the Be Free girls, and they have the guest house absolutely gleaming and ready for its guests.  I personally want to thank our dear friend Grace who helped with hanging all the artwork as well as making beautiful customized signs throughout the guesthouse, check out her Instagram page ‘alittlebitofgrace’.  I also want to thank my friend Moonhee at Agape Flower & Gardening and her staff for all the gorgeous plants that are displayed.

 

We will be putting together a brochure and promotional dvd advertising our guesthouse and through teams and short/long term placements using the facilities our church planting team will have the funds to extend the work of His Kingdom in Cambodia.  Oasis Guesthouse will accommodate 14 people and provides space for teams to hold devotions and team meetings, has a prayer room, dining room, garden area, balcony, and kitchen.  All bedrooms come with AC, fans and ensuite bathrooms; and laundry facility is also provided.

 

 

As I write this week’s blog it is Friday night and our first two guests are settled in the guesthouse, our two volunteers Heather and Hannah, who will be working alongside us for the next 9 months.  They will be joined over the weekend by guests arriving for the Elim Global Asia Conference.  Over 50 delegates are gathering in Phnom Penh for this very special event.  Elim missionaries and partners across Asia will be coming together for 3 days to meet, pray and strategise.  A number of the Elim team from the UK are traveling to lead the event, including International Missions Director Paul Hudson and members of Elim Sound.  We are grateful to our staff who have given up their holiday time over the Pchum Ben festival, when they normally visit their families in the province, to help with catering and hospitality; and our key leaders who will be attending the conference. Please pray that this would be a time of refreshment and encouragement for all who attend.

Happy 100th Birthday Bangor Elim

As missionaries we have many ups and downs, it’s extremely hard when you miss important life moments back in our homeland, this week there have been a number of big things we are really sad to miss out on.

The first was a massive moment in the life of our family as our beautiful niece Jessica left to go to university in London, she has worked so hard with tunnel vision to follow her heart determined to not let anything stop her. We are so proud of our wee Jess who has grown up into an amazing young lady, please join us in praying for Jessica, her mum and dad, brother Andrew and her boyfriend Johnny as they all will definitely be feeling lots of different emotions over the next wee while!
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Secondly we are missing our home church Bangor Elim’s Centenary celebrations and this is an occasion that we would have loved to be able to attend. We have already seen many pictures of the church celebratory meal last night and it was amazing to see so many people who have walked the journey with us over the years.  Within our church family we have grown up as Christians with looking up to and learning from some incredible people. So here are some memories we have of the 22 years we have attended Bangor Elim.
Both Esther and I became Christians in 1995, Esther had been diagnosed with bowel cancer and following a very difficult set of operations to deal with, was recovering from everything when one night a friend of her dad’s called in to see her in hospital and thankfully he led her to the Lord. I followed about 7 weeks later after deep conviction and being tortured constantly in work by Eric Gillespie.  Friends don’t ever give up, he didn’t and it led to my conversion! At that point we had to deal with the result of my addiction to gambling but God led us to Bangor Elim where we started our journey until today.
Pastor Bill Crawford and his wife, Maureen, were the senior leaders with Pastor Davy and Fiona Beckett making up a formidable team, these guys impacted our lives from day 1 and are still impacting us from the things we were taught by them all. We have had other Pastors who have impacted our lives as well Pastor Richard McBurney and his wife Margaret, then came Pastor Gary Beattie and his wife Sonya and finally there was Pastor Hugh Moore and his wife Anne. Each of these couples touched our lives in different ways, we will always miss Pastor Bill who passed away last year, we had such a special bond with Bill and Maureen, they were our spiritual parents. Esther had been Bill’s PA for 12 years and they walked our full journey of not having children with us, they blessed us abundantly with their love and encouragement. Even up until Bill passed away he was a big part of the work here in Cambodia giving advise and mentoring me, personally his death left a massive hole in my life.
Pastor Davy and Fiona have no idea how much they influenced us as well, I hear people saying how great an evangelist Davy is and that goes without saying; you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see his anointing, but to me and to us we know how much more he brings to the table. Davy has helped us since day 1, he is one of the best examples of missions in your own backyard, there is no airs or graces, he just lives out Jesus to the people and many times it goes unnoticed to the outside world but Davy is not about pleasing the world he just pleases Jesus. I remember one of my crossroad moments when we had just been told because of me we couldn’t have children and my answer was to stick two fingers up to God and start sneaking into bookmakers for a bet and I was smoking again, Esther was at the end of her tether and she spoke to Davy. He called me in to his office and asked me straight what was going on in my life, but because he didn’t judge me, because he didn’t condemn me, in fact he understood me, I responded to him and got my head back into church, but more importantly it led to me accepting and realising that God knows best. If Davy had condemned or judged me that day Esther and I probably wouldn’t be together and I would probably be on the streets. I learnt a lot from Davy as I now pastor others and I thank God for that!
Pastor Gary and Sonya came back to Bangor about 3 years after we joined and I remember at the time Pastor Bill was really excited about Gary and all  the gifts that he brings to the team. I also remember about four months before Bill retired Pastor Gary getting up one morning and preaching and I remember turning to Esther and saying Bangor Elim is in good hands, the biggest compliment I can give to Gary is I know how much Bill believed in him, I would Skype Bill a lot and he really loved both Gary and Davy and so he should. We have seen Pastor Gary out here in Cambodia loving the people and the work like nobody else, we could not do the work we do without Bangor Elim and their support. But there needs to be a driving force and Pastor Gary has had our backs in situations we can’t even discuss but he and Sonya have always been there and he is someone we love and look up too!
Over the years we have made many good friends and we have walked through valleys with them and stood on mountain tops too, we attended a new converts class in 1995 led by Pastor Davy and Jim Todd and we made one of our special relationships with Hugh and Lynn Wilson.  There are many people who we really love and are thankful to God for, the Elders and wives support us and cheer us on, George and Joe have been big influences and the Bangor Elim missions team led by our best friends Ruth and Phil McKee are unbelievable. We thank God for people like Big G and Joanne, Marti and Wes, people who have been part of our lives for 22 years!
We are family, if I haven’t mentioned you it isn’t because we don’t care or appreciate you, we love you all whether we have known you for 22 years or have just met you, we are Bangor Elim. I do want to say a final encouragement to those who have remained part of our church family for the last number of decades. So as Bangor Elim passes this wonderful milestone let’s be committed to our Pastors, our Elders and get behind them by being doers, by being givers and by being loyal. Thank you Bangor Elim we love the fact that we are your missionaries.
In closing we do have a practical need that has surfaced and we need to ask you to please be even more generous than you normally are and help us out.   Our vehicle which is integral to our church planting has unfortunately got major engine difficulties, two days ago we thought the whole engine was needing replaced, the quote was $1500.  Yesterday the good news was it would cost $300 but now today that figure could treble so we are seriously stuck. We need about $500 more than we have, if you can help please go to our donate button at the side of the page, we are so thankful for your continued support, God bless you all!

 

Guest Blog by Maddy Hudson 

I’m delighted to have been asked to share some of our experience of Cambodia on David and Esther’s blog today. Dan and I have been here for almost a week and have absolutely loved our time here so far, which has been full of new sights, new people and a lot of excitement for what is happening here in Cambodia.

We have wanted to visit David and Esther here ever since we heard about the work they are doing and everything that includes. There is such a hub of activity in the centre in Phnom Penh with the Early Leaning Centre, Be Free and the Church. There is a real sense of community that can be felt as soon as you arrive at the centre and are welcomed by the children and adults.

On our second day here, we had the opportunity to visit Kep, a province on the coast, to see the church plant and the football groups. We drove there with David and Chamnap and got to experience the driving here, which is really quite different from how we drive in the UK! It was great to meet Sarak and Sophea and their son, Harry when we arrived in Kep. We enjoyed spending time with them and hearing about their story; how they decided to go to Kep earlier this year to plant the church. Dan and I were inspired by their courage to move to a new place, away from their family and community in Phnom Penh to be pioneers of the church there. They were willing to go, knowing it would be a challenge but knowing their God would be with them through each step. This reminded me of how God doesn’t ask for us to be equipped or qualified for his plan, he asks us firstly to be willing to go. Sarak and Sophea are faith-filled people who are going to do incredible things in Kep through His strength.

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On this trip, Dan and I have had the chance to meet and work with some groups that connect with our passions. While in Kep, Dan took a football coaching session that is run each week by David and Sarak for teachers from one of the local schools. Football is such a great way to bring people together, and a great way to evangelise and build relationships with those who don’t yet know Jesus. Dan will get to go to Kep again on Monday to do some more coaching with the adult and the children’s groups. I have no doubt that these football groups will have a very important role in building friendships and connecting with those living in Kep. I am excited to hear and see what it will lead to and how God will use it.

Before heading back to Phnom Penh, we drove to Kampot and visited Epic Arts. This is a centre that trains dancers with physical disabilities at a professional level. My job back in the UK is a dance practitioner. I work with with a theatre company for learning disabled actors in Derby as well as working for a local dance organisation and an arts project at Derby Royal Hospital. I love making dance accessible to anyone at any age. My main passion is working with people with learning or physical disabilities and find it to be an incredibly inspiring job.  Epic Arts’ mission statement is “see ability, not disability” which was such a salient description on what is happening there. I had the privilege of watching their morning dance class and was just in awe of their physical strength and ability. It was beautiful and connected so much with my passion. Epic Arts is a pioneering organisation here in Cambodia and it’s the only of its kind in this country. They want to change people’s perspective on Cambodians with disabilities by showing what they can do; they can dance professionally, they can be a teacher, they can dream big and change people’s view on what they are capable of.

During our trip to Kep and Kampot, I really enjoyed talking with Chamnap about his experience of working with people with disabilities in Cambodia. He was once the chair of the board for Epic Arts and has been involved in so many other organisations. He is clearly a very gifted person in what he does and I was really inspired by his vision for planting churches and his passion for the church. I could tell this man is so important to the church and is a clear leader. He also has a brilliant sense of humor which is very important too!

Over the last two days, I’ve spent time at Be Free, meeting the women who work there. The women who are part of the Be Free programme are learning English. It was great to be part of some of their English classes and seeing their desire to learn. Be Free provides these women with a safe place to thrive, learn and dream big for their future. It is amazing to think how these things along with God’s love has completely changed each woman’s life and has given them the chance they deserve. I can really see Esther’s creativity woven into everything in Be Free as well as her motherly love for each of the women. I can see that each of them love Esther very much. They are very skilled in making gifts and crafts and they have been working hard on some big Christmas decoration orders ready to be sold later this year. The story that will travel with each craft and gift they make will inspire those who buy them.

Dan and I have loved being immersed in the Cambodian culture and we are so excited for what the rest of our trip holds. We feel so blessed to have been able to come and visit David and Esther in Cambodia and to have an insight to everything God is doing here. We find it so amazing that although our culture in the UK is so different from here, God’s love is the same wherever you see it; the joy and peace you see in someone who knows Christ and the courage it gives us to live for Him.  David and Esther are a generous, faith-filled and courageous couple who have submitted their lives to God for his purpose. Everything they are doing in Cambodia is a testament to how God will do more than we can imagine if you are willing to go.