Archive for March, 2018

Congratulations!

I want to start today’s blog by congratulating our eldest niece Alex and her Fiancé Tobi on their engagement, we are so delighted for them both, they are perfect for each other and most importantly both in love with God. Alex we have prayed for you as we do all our nephews and nieces that you would be blessed abundantly and Tobi is a real answer to that prayer.
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I would also liIke to wish a belated Happy Birthday to my brother Phil who is one of my heros in life, keep doing what you’re doing bro we are so proud of you. Also today is Georgie and Tom’s 5th wedding anniversary so congratulations and we pray you have many exciting years together wherever God takes you.
My final congratulations goes to my hero and best friend Esther, as many of you know at the start of last year Esther started back to language school. She started off at level 3 which is when you start to read and write, I cannot stress enough to you how ridiculous a language Khmer is.  There are 35 Consonants and 26 vowels (with double sounds) then the letters have legs and hair which changes the sound or shortens the word. On top of that the words are all connected in one big sentence. Writing the letters is very therapeutic I’m told but I’m not totally convinced lol. Anyway Esther passed level 3 quite easily and she progressed to level four passing again even though she missed 20% of the class due to having Dengue Fever. At this point Esther made a very important but I believe brilliant decision, she decided instead of doing level five full time over 5 weeks she did part time over ten. Even though the work was harder she had time to breath so last week she went and did her exam, it was split into two parts oral and written, she got the result of the oral straight away which was 78% correct which was a very strong mark to go into part 2 the written. The big problem was she had to wait from Thursday until the following Tuesday to get the result, which was not easy when you’ve worked so hard and just want to know the result.  But on Tuesday of this week she met with her teacher to get her written result and to say she knocked it out of the park is an understatement she scored an amazing 95%!
What a way to finish your studies in the school, going forward she will now concentrate on learning choruses and Bible verses in Khmer; and continue with conversation with those she comes in contact with.   I have had many people ask me why am I not studying, there is a few reasons, firstly we don’t have language learning in our monthly support budget so it has been a big sacrifice at approx $500 a level, so for the two of us to do it at the same time would have been  impossible.  Secondly I had just finished three years of study for becoming an ordained minister within Elim, this will happen in June this year God willing, so I needed a break from language learning. Finally we have been putting a lot of time into our church plants especially in Kep so my time has been consumed with that. The good news is when we return from furlough I will be enrolling and following in Esther’s footsteps, we are trusting for goods provision financially and the rest is down to me, but what a role model I have in my wonderful wife.
I want to close by asking you to join us as a family praying for my Mum Sandra who really needs our prayers at the minute, please pray for God’s hand to be with her over the months that lie ahead.

Guest blog by Kara

Our team arrived in Phnom Penh feeling jaded, tired, hungry, and totally excited to be here. We had all established that we came here to serve with all our heart and bless the local church, and Cambodia, however that would look. Then we entered a ‘twilight zone’ type experience. Or had we fallen down a rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland?

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We were met at the airport by a couple with the most fabulous Irish accents who knew all 12 of our names and to be honest, it felt like Mum and Dad there to pick us up. They took us to our home for the next few weeks, when we saw it, we stood there a little awkwardly and some of us cried. It was simply beautiful, clean, and our every need was taken care of. We had been prepared for doing it tough on a mission trip… awkward.

So we set to serve the people here, and we did with all our heart, and loved every minute of it. However, we will walk away from our time of ‘serving’, knowing that actually, the local church have served us and blessed us all the more. We have been prayed for, fed delicious food, prophesied over, fed, served by them in so many ways, fed again, encouraged, and fed even more, and inspired into action, by these people who in the natural, have so much less than we do. And yet, their faith, well, seems to challenge ours to the core, and inspire us… that if they can have this type of faith despite going through the tough stuff they have, then we too can aspire to increase our faith, and put it in to action. They have served us so beautifully, yet it was us that came to serve.

So it’s time to emerge from this rabbit hole and go back home. Sure, we are all a bit chubbier than when we came (the food Ali and Hannah made us is so good!), but I am confident that for all of us, our stay with Phnom Penh Elim has changed our reality for good.

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Focus on God, not the giant!

As I am writing this blog I am consumed with a very famous story in the Bible, I know why and what God is saying to me through it, but I want to challenge you today to search what God wants to say to you.

The story is David and Goliath, a story I have heard literally a thousand times but today it has real significance to me. When David took off Saul’s armour and lifted those smooth stones he put his faith in his Father God, each pace he took he said to God I know you are there, I know you have this, I can do this because my strength is in you. David had no idea what was about to happen, but what he did know was that he was a winner the second he chose to trust God. This week I choose to trust God, I know He is my strength and that He has everything covered! I know my God is a God of the impossible, He makes miracles happen as He pleases, what about you? Who do you turn to when your life is full of Goliaths; when everything seems bleak or overwhelming, I pray that today you have the same peace knowing that God knows and God cares.

We have been blessed to have a team with us for the past week from Tauranga Elim in New Zealand. Pastors Trevor and Debbie McDowell are leading the team and so far they have been such a blessing. They arrived last Saturday and got stuck straight in on Sunday with Pastor Trevor preaching and the team taking part in church singing, performing a skit and taking Sunday school. After a quick lunch they headed to our village churches and split to take kids clubs and village churches. While there they met Lyna’s wee granny (Esther’s favourite older Cambodian), she is getting so old and is in a lot of pain, so the team decided to buy a special liquid mattress for her to make what time she has left as comfortable as possible, Esther also donated her adult sized crocheted blanket she had made.

After a few days of seeing and learning more of the history and culture of this wonderful but severely scarred country the team came to the Elim centre. For the next three days they transformed the Be Free centre painting and refreshing its look, our baby room has gone from white walls to beautiful fun murals brightening the room so much.  Also bunting and other decorations were added making it truly spectacular.   Finally a few of the men replaced the fence around our kids play park, it has been in need of this for sometime so really exciting to see it look so fresh and new! We cannot thank the team enough as well as the church back in Tauranga for the way you have sown into our work here, we pray a real blessing into your church and ministries in the days that lie ahead.

This week the team is splitting with six people travelling to Steung Treng with Asian Outreach for four days and the others are accompanying myself, Chamnap and our church planting team to work with Sarak in Kep. We will have updates next week on the Kids programs and Soccer schools.

Finally today as promised these are the dates and places we will be speaking in the UK with Pastor Chamnap.

Sunday 6th May am Wellsprings Elim, Peterborough

Wednesday 9th May pm midweek meeting, Uttoxeter Elim

Sunday 13th May am & pm Lakeside Elim, Southport

Sunday 20th May am Sellyoak Elim, Birmingham

Sunday 27th May am Lisburn Elim & pm Lurgan Elim

Tuesday 29th May pm South Belfast Elim

Wednesday 30th May pm Coastlands Elim

Thursday 31st May pm Cullybacky Elim

Sunday 3rd June am & pm Bangor Elim

We will be doing other events like Ladies/Men’s meetings and Youth Groups with these churches so will give a deeper Itinerary when we have it. Also Pastor Chamnap will accompany us to the Elim Leaders Summit in Harrogate and then as he is our National leader in Cambodia he will attend the world leaders Conference as well. Please try to come and meet us at one of these meetings or look out for us in Harrogate.

Keeping focused!

As I start today’s blog I must add to Esther’s comments last week about Chamnap receiving his visa for our trip in May and June. I repeat our sincere thanks to everyone who sent letters of invitation along with financial statements to help; you know who you are and we deeply appreciate you and can’t wait to visit your churches. Julie Cook, you are an absolute legend and we owe you big time.

For the past seven years Chamnap and Nita have been our family, our friends, our human rocks, without them we would have walked away many times. I personally have some really good friends, again you know who you are, but Chamnap and I have become like brothers. It has been such a pleasure to have a friend and brother who is as loyal and trustworthy as he is. Chamnap also gets the Northern Irish humour and is always smiling, that spirit of joy mixed in with a determination for Jesus to be known by his people makes him even more loved by Elim Cambodia. It was such a privilege for me to hand over the National Leadership of Elim Cambodia to Chamnap earlier this year, it has been my goal and heart for many years and for it now to be a reality is just so special to me. The great news is you will have the chance to meet Pastor Chamnap because we will be speaking in many different churches in England and Northern Ireland. In next week’s blog we will confirm dates and times, I would encourage you to do your very best to make it to one of those meetings if possible!

On Monday of this week we held a focus day with all of our leaders, there was 19 able to make it and we had such a good time together. Both Chamnap and I are so thankful that God has blessed us with such a great group of leaders.  We started the morning with worship and then Pastor Chamnap refocused us on our vision, our mission and our core values. It is always a good thing to revisit these important things to make sure we are all following the road that God has challenged us to take. After this I had the task of helping the team look at communication skills and how we all could develop these better. We then spent time breaking into groups, each group represented different parts of what we do here, Nita headed up the ELC, Esther – Be Free and Dren the church planting. The goal was to come up with fresh ideas within their area to reach out to people in our local community so we see growth in the Phnom Penh church as well as the villages and Kep. We have put so much energy into Kep and the villages we felt it was time to focus in our local area too. The response from the groups was fantastic with many new challenging ideas and each team is hungry to make those ideas come to fruition.

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It was a really great day that we will repeat again on a regular basis so that we all keep focused on what God has challenged us to do. Please continue to pray that our team has unity and love for each other, that we communicate better and that God is always at the centre of what we do.

7th Camboversary!

Seven years ago on the 1st March we left our homeland of Northern Ireland to begin our journey to Cambodia.  And what a journey it has been!  We had never been to Asia before and had to look on the map to find out where Cambodia was; we read some books about the history of Cambodia prior to arriving to give us some insight into the country which was to become our home.  Anyone who has visited Cambodia will always say ‘there is something special about the people’.  During our time here it is the people who have welcomed us into their family and into their hearts that eases the pain of separation from our family and friends over 6000 miles away.  Our Khmer family take care of us, love us and teach us; we have learnt so much from them about trusting God in every situation and relying on Him for everything.

This week as we reflect on our time in Cambodia thus far we want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who is accompanying us on the journey.  Through prayer, financial support, child sponsorship, attending fundraising events, coming to Cambodia on teams or short term missions, raising awareness of our ministry in the UK or other parts of the world; THANK YOU!  As we have said many times we couldn’t do what we do without you!  Every child who is given an opportunity of childcare, every young woman who has been set FREE, every life that puts their trust in Jesus, you have helped make that possible!  We are so thankful to every church that is partnering with us and has helped with funding projects over the years; your support and generosity has changed lives!

Throughout the past 7 years there have been highs and lows, heartache and joy; similar to anyone’s journey in life.  Our Elim family has grown with so many weddings, then children, new staff members and new ministries.  One of my highlights has been watching people grow in their spiritual walk, new skills being developed and a passion to reach their people for Christ.

During the 7 years one aspect has never changed but has remained constant – God’s faithfulness!  In the lead up to us leaving for Cambodia one verse became very special to us found in Joshua 1:9, ’Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’  There have been circumstances when we have felt lonely, afraid, discouraged but in those times God has been with us reminding us that we are called to live courageously, without fear, assured of the fact that God is with us at all times!

Our Camboversary coincided with a football tournament in Kep which David and Sarak needed to attend so I was able to join them for the weekend.  Yesterday and today while the football matches are taking place I’ve been able to study in preparation for my language exam in less than 3 weeks, and David will be speaking at the Kep church on Sunday.  Last night David and I went to our favorite place in Cambodia to watch the sunset and God really blessed us with a magnificent sight.  We give all glory and honor to God for all He is doing in Cambodia, we are honored to be His servants and thank Him for choosing us to serve Him in our beautiful heartland!

In closing we are delighted to share that Chamnap was successful in receiving a visa for the UK and will be accompanying us to England and Northern Ireland over May/June.  We appreciate all the help from Julie in the Missions office and all the Pastors and friends from hosting churches who wrote letters supporting Chamnap’s application.  We are very excited to have Chamnap represent Cambodia at the National Leaders conference, as well as attending ELS18 and minister in churches who support the work in Cambodia and for Chamnap to meet our friends and family!

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