Archive for February, 2018

Cold Showers in Cambodia

If you had told us 5 years ago that we would be spending 10 days in Cambodia in February 2018 we would have laughed in disbelief.  However after our daughter Hannah launched out on an adventure to join the Elim Missions team in Cambodia for 9 months this year we felt it was impossible not to pay a visit!  Arriving at Phnom Penh airport was therefore a moment of reunion after being restricted to skype chats for 5 months and it was great to get a hug despite being confronted by 34 degrees heat.  An authentic tuk tuk ride down the back streets of the city to the Elim Church Centre and David and Esther’s home and we now had no doubt we were in Cambodia!

There would be so much we could talk about as we had some moments of relaxation and holiday alongside opportunities to get involved with the great work here.  So here are a few highlights from our trip:

After recovering from the 17 hour trip we had the amazing privilege of visiting the Elim Church Centre.  On a Friday afternoon we weren’t really expecting much more than a look around a building but were surprised to be greeted by people in every room of a 3 story building.  This hive of activity offering employment and protection to so many people was a joy to see.  One of the highlights was being greeted by 50+ toddlers and babies all receiving expert care and supervision from the staff at the Early Learning Centre.  Liz particularly enjoyed sitting in on Hannah leading a bible study with girls around her own age who are on the BE FREE program.  It was so clear that God is at work in the place offering safety, refuge and restoration.  It was striking how the Cambodians we met so quickly welcomed us into their daily lives.  We had heard so much about the ‘programs’ of BE FREE, ELC and Church Planting here but each program was based on simple daily interactions and Jesus conversations, organic and Holy Spirit-led.

On Sunday we had a great day in the Phnom Penh church, it was a privilege to work alongside Pastor Chamnap, Elim’s National Leader in Cambodia speaking at the service.   Then it was off to the villages in a minibus, there were so many church planters and volunteers wanting to go that the hot minibus was crammed Cambodian-style with people clambering to take part.  The raft ride over the lake was quite an adventure and eventually we arrived in what seemed to us to be the middle of nowhere!  Liz worked alongside a Cambodian missionary offering a medical clinic whilst the church planters gathered people for a church meeting.  In the next village I joined the team where over 100 kids flocked to the mat for a kids club and I spoke in the house of an elderly man who had built a basic extension on his house to accommodate the church.  Fantastic!

One stand-out encounter was with a man who had survived the terrible treatment of the Khmer Rouge 40 years ago.  The reality of this event was sharp in our minds after reading in preparation for our trip here.  This elderly man told us that during his capture someone had told him about Jesus Christ, he liked what he heard and was keen to know more.  However,  it wasn’t until 40 years later  when the church came to his village talking about Jesus that he heard this name mentioned again.  After hearing more the man gave his life to Jesus and was now leading the Village Churches in that Province!

The middle 3 days of our stay we took a trip to Siem Reap and enjoyed time as tourists seeing the ancients temples and were amazed by the floating villages on Tonle Sap.  We had previously been to see and hear about the days of the Khmer Rouge and the effect of this on Cambodia as a nation is easy to see.  It is a stunning place but demonstrates such poverty. The people are so incredibly friendly and welcoming.

The final day of our stay presented the opportunity to invest in the leaders working here.  It was fantastic to be jammed into a small room with leaders eager to learn, notepads in hands. During this time Liz led the Bible study with the Be Free girls and we felt again the privilege of God at work through us.  Our time culminated in presenting Pastor Chamnap with his Elim credential card and praying over him, alongside his wife Nita, releasing him into his role as the National leader of Elim Cambodia.  It was wonderful to witness how David and Esther are committed to identifying, training and releasing leaders here.  Our deepest thanks go to them for opening their home to us and Hannah and showing us this beautiful land and it’s people.  The work here is inspirational and effective, please do pray for the team here that many more may come know our wonderful Saviour. So much of what we have seen and experienced has blessed, encouraged and surprised us, we even enjoyed the cold showers!


A Glimpse of Jesus!

As I write this blog we have just had a wonderful day with Hannah’s Mum and Dad, Dave and Liz Newton, who arrived on Friday morning. We are so excited to have them with us for just over a week and will give you a full update in next week’s blog.

Over the last month or so I have seen a couple of films that have made me think a lot. I just thought for a change that it would be good to share some things that challenged me and who knows maybe can stretch you too!

The first film I watched was so good I went twice to the cinema to see it, to be honest I didn’t have a clue it was a musical or else I wouldn’t have been there. But Esther concealed that fact until the very first moment Hugh Jackman banged his cane on the ground. Of course the film was “The Greatest Showman” a story Inspired by the imagination of P. T. Barnum. The Greatest Showman is an original musical that celebrates the birth of show business and tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.

But as I sat and watched along with tapping my foot and wanting to sing aloud at the catchy anthems I was challenged as I watched Barnum lose sight of what his dream was, he put what he thought was happiness through success and making money in front of his wife and children. He basically lost his vision and what values he had held so dear as he set out. This is a danger for us all, we can be very busy each day with the hustle and bustle of the normality of life, you know what that means in your life. Before we know a hunger for wealth or a hunger for success or popularity becomes our focus, our goal and those we hold the dearest suffer the most. Friends we need to be so careful that the main thing in life remains the main thing. If you’re married that means loving and cherishing your spouse, if you have children that means spending time with them and showing them they have parents that love them and are proud of them. If you’re a boss stop being nasty, short or grumpy to your staff and start showing them that they are valued.

The film finishes with a scene, a lightbulb moment, where Barnum realises what is really the important things to him. He then goes on to sing a song called “From now on” the video shows him going to his wife and making amends, in his case, just in time.  He realised just in time or he was going to lose everything he had. Maybe you’re at rock bottom in your marriage, with your children and even in your walk with God, well maybe it’s time you changed! What are you going to do “From now on” it’s up to you, only you can choose. Maybe you don’t know Jesus, well it’s time to make a decision to follow him right now, if you do that your “From now on” will be amazing!

The second film I watched  last night and it was called “Wonder” based on the New York Times bestseller. WONDER tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters fifth grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time.

This is a must see, it’s a tear jerker but it pulls every heart string as you watch a young man being discriminated and mocked because of his looks. At the start of the film and for public appearances Auggie, as he is known by, wears a Spaceman helmet to stop people seeing who he really is. When he has the helmet on he is able to live his life without any embarrassment, without any shame or fear of what people would say or how people would mock him.

I was challenged in two ways; the first was how do my actions, my reactions towards others effect the person in question. Am I like the majority that will judge a person because they have had extreme misfortune, looking down on people or will I be genuine and willing to help no matter the cost. Christian brothers and sisters we should be building people up rather than treating them like freak shows. Maybe you don’t do it but what about when others do, do we stand by and watch them poke fun at or say things that are disgusting or vile, or do we step in, stand up and stand beside no matter what the cost!

The second thing that struck me was how many of us claim to love Jesus yet we are happy to walk about with a helmet on to disguise our faith, our Christianity. Willing to keep it a secret because we don’t want to be mocked or rejected by those we think are the cool people.  When in fact they are the losers and unless they know we are a follower of Jesus and can see him in our walk, by wearing a mask we are condemning them to hell. Friends it’s time to take our mask off and let our friends see Jesus in us!

The film finishes of with Auggie receiving a standing ovation from his peers and family, they accepted him for what and who he is. Maybe the person you are most afraid of will be the one who needs to see you without your mask. Brothers, sisters let’s take off our masks and give this needy world a glimpse of Jesus! God bless you all!

A Call For Prayer!

At the start of this week’s blog we want to personally thank Amelia for all the work and ministry she participated in during her time with us.  We miss her cheerful spirit and singing around the house, especially during our Rumikub matches! The artwork that Hannah and Amelia created is now all up in the church and it looks amazing.  We are praying for you Amelia as you seek God’s direction for the next chapter of your life and as you continue to serve Him in your church and community.

This week has involved a lot of preparation for our furlough and for future events in Cambodia.  We prepare child sponsorship updates twice a year, once for Christmas and again when we return to the UK so this week Georgie & Hannah have been taking the photographs of the children who are already sponsored and also of new children who have just started the ELC and are in a position to be sponsored.  Hannah has also spent time with Nita working on the admin side matching the names and photographs, then there is also a craft that the children make and a thank you card for the sponsor family.  It is a big operation and we are thankful for the extra hands to get everything completed on schedule.  We are so grateful to everyone who sponsors one of the children enabling them to attend the ELC and get a really good start in their development.

Tom and Georgie have now finished their 2 week KickStart Khmer course and Georgie will begin to spend time in the ELC within all three sections baby, toddlers and pre-school working with the staff, helping to teach and implement new ideas for learning, play and child development.  Tom will be part of the team going to Kep each week to help with coaching and training the football sessions. Tom and Georgie have settled in really well and from next week will begin to work out what their week will look like and where they will use and teach their gifts and abilities to others.

We are very excited to share the news that we are planning to bring Pastor Chamnap to the UK with us in May where he will attend the World Leaders’ Conference organised by Elim Missions  and the Elim Leaders Summit in Harrogate.  Chamnap will also speak in each of the churches we visit sharing about his life and ministry in Cambodia.  We value your prayers as we apply for Chamnap’s visa this week, for the past few months David and Chamnap have been gathering all the information required to accompany his application which then also needs to be translated into English.  On Monday I will complete the online application form with Chamnap when a date is then arranged to go to the visa office and present the application.

Chamnap also has been working hard with the Ministry in Kep with regards to hosting the first Dignity Day in Cambodia with One By One organisation.  Chamnap is meeting with the Minister again this week presenting background information and confirming the date of the event in November.  He also has had to get quotes for hiring a huge tent to accommodate the 1000 girls who will attend.  The price of the tent includes tables, chairs and food; because the venue is at the ground where the footballl is played we’ve also got to get quotes for portaloos.  It’s going to be an amazing day for the girls to be educated and we do value your prayers for all the planning to be straightforward!

Finally we were thrilled to be present for Daniel’s one month birthday party!  Sokim and Somnang hosted a small party at the centre to cerebrate their beautiful baby boy.  Daniel is such a joy and delight to all of us and especially to his Mum, Dad and big sister Chiera!

My thoughts, Cambodia 2018

I’m Amelia, 18, and I flew out to Cambodia on the 3rd of January this year, for a total of 27 days! I had the most incredible time, and I just want to share a few thoughts with you now. (I have so much I could say, so I’ll try and keep it short!)

When I was planning my trip, I knew I wanted to do mission somewhere in the world that allowed me to work with women and girls that had been sex trafficked, and being a part of an Elim church, I got in touch with their mission centre and found out about the work David and Esther are doing in Phnom Penh – it instantly captured my heart, so I booked it! Best decision.

Before going I really had no idea as to what I’d find out there, what I would be doing specifically, and having never flown anywhere alone or been away from home for that long, how I would feel when out there. But David and Esther, and my new pal, Hannah (what a star), made Cambodia feel like a home away from home, and I was able to fall in love with all that God is doing in that country.

There are SO many things that I love about Cambodia and will miss dearly, one being the Khmer culture. Khmer culture is bright, exciting, lively and energetic, somewhat different to the gentle and serene atmosphere in Devon (!), and as soon as I arrived, my eyes instantly struggled to take in everything. There always seemed to be something you’d never seen before, and someone new to greet. There was a buzz about the city and it was infectious; you couldn’t help but walk faster, talk with more passion and smile more often! And that was beautiful.

Alongside that, the people that make up this city are just amazing! I will never forget the friends I’ve made out there, and I cannot wait to return soon and catch up with them all! The joy of the Lord definitely follows them wherever they go, and it inspired me to live a life more thankful when I returned to England. Probably the thing that challenged me most about how my outlook on life compared to how the Khmer view life, is their consistent hardworking and selfless attitude. They serve with everything they have, and not once do they complain about having to do so. They give generously, and the verse ‘freely you have received, freely you shall give’ (Matt. 10:8) seemed to be their life motto. They looked out for the needs of those around them, and then found a way to help or solve that issue, and that really challenged me. For why, when we have everything at our fingertips, do we find it so hard to give to those around us? I am incredibly thankful to the friends that taught me how freeing it is to freely give!

Some of my favourite moments took place in the Be Free centre, where I was able to spend most of my time. Due to the language barrier, I was somewhat scared of how much I’d actually be able to do or aid whilst there, but God taught me the power of a smile, and how it really is a language of it’s own! Just sitting with the girls, singing along to the UK charts, and drawing and crocheting in complete silence, you can actually really get to know someone. It took away the need to complicate life and to fill it with unnecessary words, and once you’d accepted the first awkward hour, you were then open to sense the unity that connected each of us together. It was so peaceful in that centre, and there was a real atmosphere of healing, as trust was built and friendships grew. I thank God for the work he is doing there, and the provision of space to share the gospel with them.

I want to end by glorifying God, in that during just 1 one month there, I witnessed 2 Be Free girls graduate, I saw another girl come to look around the centre with the hope of starting the program this week, I was able to see several of the staff improve on their english, I was there to receive the news of a friend becoming pregnant, I sat and listened whilst someone on the church planting team discussed Jesus with someone in the province, and I had the privilege of joining the team in the village church plant, and play games with a group of incredibly beautiful children!

God is moving, and you simply can’t ignore it!

Please keep praying for the work out there; for provision and for wisdom, and keep sharing in the joy of all the fruit David and Esther are seeing!

Can’t wait to see you soon Cambodia, love Amelia x