Archive for October, 2017

Guest blog by Cherith

These six weeks in Cambodia have flown in.  It has been a busy time working with the ELC, Be Free and the worship team in Phnom Penh.  I have enjoyed the experience and want to thank Davy and Esther for their hospitality and support as I begin this music and worship journey with Elim International Missions.  It has been a busy six weeks and lots of things have happened like the Asia conference and going to Kep to visit one of the church plants, but I’ll just tell you about the day to day stuff.

Part of the work I have been doing is finding the different sounds and expressions of worship in Cambodia.  There is a western flavour mixed in with a traditional Khmer feel to it.  I recorded a song with Songva and Sok who are both brilliant musicians and people who really do worship God.  The approach we took in the recording was to sit on the floor in a room with Songva playing guitar and Sok singing.  To add an even more Khmer flavour to the song the monsoon rains came in the middle of the recording.  The Cambodian style of worship is different to the western style; it is beautiful and full of love and devotion to Jesus.   As part of the expression of worship we filmed a traditional Khmer dance with the Be Free girls, this just reminded me of the Alabaster jar as they sprinkled petals on the floor.  It was graceful and full of joy and laughter as we filmed it.

During my time here I was able to get involved in the worship team.  Songva was incredibly patient as I tried to work out what chord I needed to play in the songs that were written in Khmer.  It was great to be able to fully experience another culture’s way of doing worship team.  My favourite part, and the one that I feel each worship team at home should adopt, was the Bible study at the beginning of the worship team practice.  It is putting worship and word into practice, even though I had no idea what was being said about each passage I was able to read the passage and meditate over it myself.

I was given the great opportunity while being here to just sit and get to know the Be Free girls.  Every single one of them is unique and beautiful and resilient.  I am sure that if you’ve ever seen their products that you can see the amazing quality of them.  They are hard workers who make sure every item they make is made with care, precision and fun.  They even let me help them one day and taught me how to knit.  Sokim and Channak work really well with the girls mentoring them and teaching them new skills.  I also got the opportunity to teach the girls some songs in English in order to help them with their English classes; their favourite song was “The King of my Heart” by John Mark and Sarah McMillan.  It was beautiful to watch them worship and wanting to translate the song into Khmer.

Some mornings during my stay in Cambodia I worked with the toddlers in the ELC. Nita and her team are doing a great job making sure these kids are getting a good start to their education.  My job most mornings was to get the toddlers singing and dancing to their favourite songs.   Most joined in, but some were a little unsure of the white girl, thankfully as the weeks went on they all got used to me and joined in with the singing and dancing.  I also did two mornings in the preschool doing a music workshop, with the help of Hannah.  We took rice and pasta put them in plastic bottles and got the kids to listen to the different sounds they made, taught them different rhythms which helped them count in Khmer and English.  I hope they enjoyed the experience as much as I did.

I will never forget my time in Cambodia, it was been a whirlwind and I cannot believe it is coming to an end.  Thanks again to Davy and Esther for their patience as I tried to find my feet beginning this project.  I feel I have been given a good start on the project and can’t wait to see what the other cultures are going to be like.   So in every tribe, tongue and nation let the name of Jesus resound as the sound of broken people arises into a song of hope, joy and victory in Jesus Christ.  Let every tribe in Cambodia and every language spoken on these shores declare the name of Jesus, let their broken Hallelujahs resound over their nation!

Blessed beyond Measure

We are incredibly blessed by the people who come to Cambodia and sow into the lives of our Khmer family and to both David and I.  Last week Roy Hitchman shared about Lainey and his recent time in Phnom Penh and we are eternally grateful for them both.  We met Roy & Lainey over a Skype call almost 3 years ago and hit it off straightaway; they are a couple who love people and passionately care about helping people navigate their relationships.   They speak honestly and from their own experiences, and also bring humour as they minister to single people, engaged couples, married couples and parents.

We want to thank Paul Hudson, Elim’s International Missions Director, for seeing the need to have Roy & Lainey as a vital part of the Elim missions family.  Over the last few years they have helped us prioritise our time better; we were always helping others who were going through difficult circumstances and spending time ministering to those around us, but this resulted in us starting to neglect each other.  We appreciate their advice and are thankful for monthly skypes where they keep us accountable to the adjustments we have put in place to protect our marriage and give us a healthy family life.

Our Khmer family have also benefitted so much from getting to know Roy & Lainey over the past two years.  When they arrived in September  it was encouraging for them to have individuals and couples thanking them for the advice they had received last year and how their lives were better.  They carried out some follow up counseling sessions and we are grateful to those who initiated spending time with Roy and Lainey as they demonstrated how much they care about their marriage and family life.

We cannot stress enough how valuable the ministry Roy & Lainey have and we whole heartedly recommend them to everyone.  They are trustworthy and confidentiality is their middle name!  If you want to find out more either individually or would be interested in them visiting your church  check out their website:http://hitchedtogether.com

Roy & Lainey, thank you for having a piece of Cambodia in your heart; for loving us all and embracing the Khmer culture with respect and dignity.  You demonstrate the love of Jesus in your actions, and have compassion for everyone who you come in contact with.  Thank you for pouring out and investing into the lives of so many here; we know you are enjoying the sweet reunion with your daughter Beth and doggy Guthix.  Bless you both as you continue to serve the Lord and we look forward to catching up firstly over skypes and then in person next year in the UK.

In this week’s blog we also want to honor a very special lady who we have the privilege of knowing.  We first met Betty Jenkins, from New Zealand, through our friend Julie 6 years ago and we are so thankful to God for bringing this dear lady into our lives.  Last night we had the awesome honour of hosting Betty’s 80th Birthday Party in the Elim centre.  Her birthday is not until December but this occasion has been planned for a couple of years.  Betty has been visiting Cambodia for over 20 years, usually once a year and sometimes even two times.  She has come using her nursing experience and more recently connects with missionaries and provides pastoral care checkups and always offers advice and words of wisdom.  We always look forward to the time we share together and we have learnt so much from this legend of a lady!

It was wonderful to join with Khmer and expats last night who have known Betty over the years and been blessed to work alongside her.  Betty was honored in words from the hearts of people who love her. David & Chamnap MC’d the evening with Julie & Jill ministering in song, Dren made a debut appearance playing the guitar and singing, Bruce Taylor delivered a speech recounting memories over the years and bringing humour on how Betty is not a typical lady in her 80th year.  Betty, thank you, for being the legend that you are.  I know, I speak on behalf of many who know you, that I hope to have even a fraction of the energy, fun, zeal, passion for life, service for God that you have at 80 years.  Retirement is a word you don’t know and we wish you God’s abundant blessings as you continue to serve Him both in Cambodia and New Zealand.

In closing we want to send a special message to David’s Dad Walter who celebrated his birthday this week.  It is hard being away from loved ones when special occasions take place but we are thankful for Skype and we enjoyed our chat while Walter was enjoying an Ulster fry with Sandra.  Walter we both love you so much and thank God for you; praying God’s richest blessings over you this year and in the years to come.  We will join you for a fry next time we are together!

Guest Blog by the Hitchmans

We’re writing this blog as the rain streams down the window panes of David and Esther Allen’s home in Cambodia. It’s rainy season and the monsoon takes rain to a whole new level. It’s also a season of growth. We visited a church plant in Kep last week and right beside the church there is a paddy, (not an Irishman) but a field of rice. The field was bright green and vibrant the deluge of rain being vital to its growth. It was a strong reminder that we all need ‘water’ to grow and we all need times of refreshing. Although we have been busy with ministry we also have felt ‘watered’, refreshed and encouraged by what God is doing here in Cambodia.

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And God has been doing a lot! Our six weeks here has been busy, bringing teaching about relationships, identity and character, holding relationship counselling sessions and trying to fit this into an already cram-packed schedule followed by the church in Phnom Penh. What follows is an account of some of the highlights we have experienced during our time here.

 

Global Asia Conference

Mid-way through September, Elim Phnom Penh hosted the first Elim Global Asia Conference.  Although not part of their usual routine, the event was fantastic and the staff here gave their all to ensure it was a massive success. While Lainey and I had the privilege of speaking at the event we were blessed to learn so much and we were impressed by the servant heart of the team here.

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Relationships Follow-up

This is our second time visiting Davy, Esther and the team. The wonderful thing about returning to somewhere we have previously ministered is that we get to see the fruit of what was sown before. This is something that has brought us great encouragement as we have listened to testimonies of how God broke through the challenges that couples faced a year ago.

 

Church plant

We love to see churches thriving, and especially love to see healthy relationships within churches. Recently we got the opportunity to do life alongside a couple pastoring a new church plant. Last year the church in Kep was just a dream, this time it was an established work. So much has been accomplished in only a year!

 

Village church

Coming from Western Europe, Lainey and I had a definite idea about what church looks like and how churches run. Visiting the village churches in Cambodia is refreshing in that a lot of what we think needs to be in place is missing (like walls), but yet the church thrives and lives are changed. It is amazing to see how simple church can be!

This year we crossed the river again on the ramshackle ferry (two pontoons, a diesel engine, propeller and a few planks) to visit another newly planted village church. Situated not far from where we visited last year shows just how the gospel is spreading in rural Cambodia. Again we witnessed a vibrant children’s ministry outside whilst inside the adults from the village gathered and were taught the Word of God. Oh, and we ate deep fried baby frogs (they taste like chicken) with the church planting team after church.

 

Character, Identity, Friendships and Relationships

At the moment Lainey and I are in our last few days of our time in Cambodia. We have spent much of our last 2 weeks with 2 special groups of people teaching them about character, identity, friendships and relationships. One of the groups comprises the girls in the Be Free program, the other are some of the Staff at the Early Learning Centre. It has been so much fun interacting with these lovely people and experiencing their enthusiasm as they learn more about how God has made them and the giftings and abilities God has deposited within them. Thank you Lord, we live for times like these.

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We want to take this opportunity to thank Davy and Esther for their wonderful hospitality, big hearts and for this chance to minister alongside them

Elim Global Rocks!

Over the last month we have had the most amazing, fantastic, crazy time; I don’t even know where to start. I must say a big thank you to Paul Hudson for his vision to have Elim Global conferences all over the world, also our thanks must go to the amazing Bobbie Tinnion who worked tirelessly along with Linda Murray to make the first South East Asia Elim Global conference a total success. Finally to our guys Pastor Chamnap, Nita, all the hospitality team, Dren, Songva, Sarak and Lyly. Honestly you blew our minds with your efficiency and go the extra mile attitude at all times. We are so honoured to be part of Elim, to be part of Elim Global and to be Elim Cambodia!

 

I could talk all day about the people we met and rubbed shoulders with and were truly blessed by but there is way too many to mention, but a few stood out. Mike Griffiths is not just a good guy and great speaker but he is a genuine friend, he spoke words of life, encouragement and wisdom into our lives, our marriage and our ministry.  Brother thank you so much for taking the time to care, we can all learn so much from Mike’s example. Friends slow down search what your role is in God’s kingdom, be great at your role, leave other roles for the anointed and appointed who are God ordained.  Be the best you can at being a husband, father and follower of Jesus, or a wife, mother or daughter just shine Jesus, and you can do that as you look after yourself; that’s what God really wants, be wise in all that you do!

We were so blessed at the conference because we had three of our favourite speakers in the one conference Mike I’ve already mentioned, Dave Campbell who was simply brilliant and Paul Hudson our boss, who is one of the best speakers we know.  Along with Malcolm Duncan, Paul stands out in the way he challenges and speaks truth and wisdom in a way that makes you want to listen all day long. Dave Campbell had each of us falling off our seats one minute laughing and then in the next minute crying as God challenged us through his servant, what wonderful teaching we received all week.

The other massive blessing was to have Elim Sound with us, they truly rocked the place and we loved every minute of their worship, it was fantastic.  But what we loved the most was they are so humble, kind and gracious; they just wanted to pour out and that they truly did. We got some time after the conference with Sam, Stephen, Joel and Ian and it was fun, fun, fun; we had a ball, such a privilege to spend time with true Elim legends.

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Roy Johnston stayed for an extra five days and we were so glad he did because it was so good to get to show the Irish Missions Director about our centre and the work we are doing. Roy spoke really well at both the church in Phnom Penh and the village church in Saang on the Sunday afternoon, we followed that up with a trip to allow Roy to see a little bit of what we are doing in Kep. Roy is a gentleman, we really enjoyed him staying with us and it was special for him to see Cherith his daughter settle in to the guesthouse and the work in Be Free before he left.

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It was lovely to catch up with other missionaries as well especially Lynette , Sheryl , Robin, Roy and Lainey and our wee friend Betty from New Zealand, most of these we had met at the missionary conference last year. Although our time was short with each it was special and we loved every minute. Everyone has now left except for the Hitchman’s who are with us for another 10 days, they have been phenomenal teaching all different groups on relationships and other areas that will help us all as a church and as couples and families. We also have Cherith until the end of October and our two lifers Heather and Hannah who are with us to the start of May!

 

Please pray for the girls, the Hitchman’s and ourselves as we step into another week that we all listens to the Father’s voice as he leads us to help the poor, the needy and the lost of this beautiful country, while you pray for us we will be praying for you for the same opportunities for you to live out Jesus to your world!