Archive for July, 2018

God always knows best!

Right at the start of this blog I want to ask you to pray for Cambodia over the next 36 hours as the country goes to the polls for their National election. We pray for peace and that God’s will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. We also pray for wisdom going forward for those that will govern this wonderful country.

So a number of months back we were devastated when we heard the news that Paul Hudson (our boss and International Missions Director in Elim) was leaving his post to take up the role of Regional Leader over at least 100 churches in the midlands. Initially we were stunned and shocked but sometimes that happens and it’s ok to panic or take a hissy fit. But as time passed we realised that actually this new role is perfect for Paul, and that although initially we like many others panicked, God knows best and He has a perfect plan. Not your plan, not my plan but His plan.

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I wonder today what news has caught you of guard.   Perhaps its news from a Doctor, or relationship news, or your job isn’t secure; or like us some one precious to you in work or church is moving on. Family issues, financial problems, whatever is causing your world to spin at a faster pace is in God’s hand and He has a plan. When Paul spoke to the missionaries he explained it wasn’t because he wanted to leave missions (anyone that knows him knows there isn’t anyone who loves missions more), it wasn’t because of health, it wasn’t because his amazing, wonderful wife had said she wanted him about more, all good reasons in themselves. He simply knew that this is what God wanted and he responded to that call.

Esther and I have experienced our fair share of disappointment but one thing we learnt very early on in our Christian walk was that God knows best. That God has a plan and that plan is always good, without exception. So friend today no matter what is going on don’t worry, God is in it and has you protected and you are loved.

Moving forward through the months of uncertainty we along with all the pastors, leaders and missionaries in Elim UK were told last Sunday that Pastor Iain Hesketh would be taking up the role of IMD on the 24th September. First of all we would like to congratulate Iain and Rachel on this appointment, we are excited going forward to see how God uses you and your many many skills to develop and lead us missionaries in the days and years that lie ahead.

Personally we are so pleased because Iain has become a great friend over the last four years, and because of our relationship we have a real bond with their church Encouter Church formerly known as Sellyoak Elim. To you, our friends we know that Iain and Rachel will be missed massively but please remember that God has a plan for you as a church too. Enjoy the next six or seven weeks with the Heskeths and trust God and your amazing Elders for the days that lie ahead.

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This morning we ask you to join with us in prayer that God will really use Iain and Rachel in this new role. That they will be full of assurance that this is His perfect will for their lives, that everything will run smoothly through this transition period for Paul, Iain and Encounter church Sellyoak. The future of Elim missions is exciting and we are so expectant of what is about to happen, bring it on!

A Week of Big Occasions!

Every now and then there are timely reminders that we are not as young as we used to be, things creep up on you and when they happen you have a momentary reality check of how life is so precious and does not stand still for anyone.

Many of you will know our wee Jess who has grown into a beautiful young lady, on Thursday she turned 20 years old and it only seems like yesterday that she was born. Jessica we love you so much and are so proud of you, we often thank God for you as we do all our nephews and nieces. Another one of our nieces Claire graduated from University this week and again we are so proud of her and all that she has achieved. We pray that doors will open for you Claire and that all your dreams will come true as you finish your education.

On Friday next week my Mum will be celebrating her 70th birthday, this will be a much more difficult birthday as she is currently going through the rigorous journey of chemotherapy. Please join us in praying for her health, her energy and her complete healing. I have to be honest it is much harder than I thought being so far away while the rest of the family are having this journey together. I want to just publicly say how much I love my mum, she became our mum when we were in our mid teens and she really showed us how to love and be loved, along with my Dad they taught us to love others, respect people and always look for the good in others. Mum I so wish we could be with you on your birthday, we love you so much and are so proud of you and how you are facing each day, you are always in our prayers.

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Another big occasion next week is on Monday when Esther and I will be married 24 years, I honestly don’t know how she has stuck me. As many of you know I brought addiction and big debts into our marriage, also due to medical reasons I couldn’t give us the family we both desperately wanted. I get so involved in my work that many times forget to give my beautiful wife the time that she needs and deserves. Yet she supports me without a second thought, that’s the beauty of her; always putting others first. I have made mistakes in my life but thankfully I have learnt, and today I honour my beautiful Esther for us, and for loving me as much as she does. As we enter our 25th year of marriage I excitedly look forward to the years that lie ahead, Esther I love you to the moon and back!

As I finish today’s blog I want to thank Pastor Richard Vernon and the team from Lakeside Elim Southport, for coming to Cambodia and blessing us in many ways. We had a wonderful time together because they came to serve but also learn.  Too many times people think they can only give and don’t want to learn. This team was so special, they really made themselves vulnerable by allowing God to challenge them and speak to them. We pray that each of them will allow God to continue to reveal himself to them in the days that lie ahead. I want to also personally thank one of my closest friends in ministry, Richard you are such a good friend, someone who cares massively and sets a great example of how to love people, lead people and encourage those around him. I’m so thankful to have you as a brother.

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If you’re reading this blog and you would like a life changing experience please do not hesitate to contact us by email on davyandesther@gmail.com or Mandy Campbell in Elim Missions on mandy.campbell@elimhq.net I cannot recommend the Cambodian experience and our guesthouse enough.

Guest blog by Pastor Richard

Will you bring a team out to Cambodia? That was the question put to me. It was one that was asked eighteen months ago when I first had the privilege of travelling over here to see the work of Elim Cambodia first hand. There’s something about this place and the people here that grabs more than a piece of your heart; it gets emblazoned upon it and remains there for the rest of your life so I was more than keen for the trip to happen. Two months ago, however, we weren’t sure if it was going to take place as for various reasons, members of the team had to pull out one by one which brought it down to just three of us. But following David, Esther and Chamnap’s visit to our church (Lakeside Church, Southport) in May whilst they were on furlough, five more people stepped forward after that Sunday morning and then it was all systems go. For most of the team, it was their first visit and experience of Cambodian life. For one particular person, as mentioned in last week’s blog, it was a return to a place he spent a portion of his childhood in having lived here with his pioneering missionary parents. Craig Walker is our Youth Pastor at Lakeside and it’s been an absolute privilege and joy to share this particular experience with him and to see him rekindle some old friendships as well as establishing new ones too. I have to say that my whole team have all been amazing and I couldn’t have shared it with a greater group of people. It’s been so enjoyable watching them take in and embrace the work of Elim Cambodia and I know they each bring home with them their own special memories and along with all those others who have been there before them also now have Cambodia securely locked away in a special place in their hearts. You can’t help it; that’s what happens when you come here!

Our trip lasted for ten days during which time we managed to pack so much into it, yet still maintaining plenty of down time to refresh ourselves after a busy day in the hot temperatures. As a church, we have been passionately supporting David and Esther for coming up to two years and so it was a delight for the team to see it up close and personal. Everyone was impressed by all that takes place at the Church Centre in Phnom Penh with the Early Learning Centre, City church and the amazing Be Free programme which makes such a huge impact rehabilitating the young girls who have been rescued from the trafficking industry. With five ladies on my team, they were really looking forward to coming alongside them, hearing their stories and simply spending time with them and loving them, making jewellery alongside them and treating them to coffee and cakes at Bloom Cafe. Whilst they were doing this, myself and my two male colleagues spent a few days investing in the church leaders; both those based in Pnomh Penh and those who travelled in from the more rural village churches as part of a two day leadership conference that had been arranged. Although we came to give out and share from our own experiences, I know that we received far more in return as we observed their passion and commitment for reaching out to those in their provinces. What a humbling experience that was.

One stand out memory in particular for me will be the visit to Kep. I love visiting this city situated on the south coast, not just because we get to stay in a luxury hotel for the night with a swimming pool (and it was luxury), but because of the work here through the newly planted church ably pastored by the gift Sarak and his wife Sophea. Now situated in a different building to the one on my last visit, this church carries so much potential to be a light in this area. Whilst there, we were honoured to be part of the first Happy Kids Club that took place following six weeks of the team prayer walking the area. When we first arrived, there were a couple of kids happily playing high jump, barefooted and with a tiny piece of yellow string. But then within minutes of setting up a PA system and the team spending a few minutes walking by the corrugated homes perched a few feet above the lapping sea, around ninety children assembled onto the bit of wasteland where it was being held and for the next thirty minutes, we witnessed them joining in the songs and games before each being handed a Christmas Shoebox from Operation Christmas Child. The look on their faces was priceless. They had so little, yet they possessed so much! But it was what followed afterwards that really made that three hour trip so worth it. Whilst the kids club was in motion, Pastor Chamnap had been chatting to some of the parents who had also come along, and it was at this point he invited me to join him and David as one of the parents had said he would love to speak more in his home. His home was less than half the size of my living room and the journey to it was an interesting one to say the least. One wrong place of your foot and you could easily have ended up in the sea three feet below, or to be more specific, in the mass of garbage floating in it. This man had been involved in a church youth group when he was a teenager but then his parents moved away and as things unfolded over time, he lost his way. Now married with a couple of children of his own, his heart was being stirred once again as he heard that the ‘Jesus people’ were coming to into his village. As we sat with him, he asked us to teach him the Lord’s Prayer once again so he could seek to rekindle a connection with God. What a privilege that was to pray with him and encourage him to seek after Jesus! Chatting with Chamnap, this is all part of the strategy to reach out into the Provinces. One by one, a child, a parent, a family, a village. Please Lord, let it be! I’m so committed to this area of their work and am already thinking how we can look to support them even more to see Cambodia won for Christ!

There were so many other great experiences we all enjoyed – way too many to mention in just one blog. I’m so glad for iPhones and iCloud as they are both housing most of my memories right now. I think I pretty much used up most of my storage allowance on this one trip alone and can’t wait to spend time revisiting them and reliving them all with the vibrant colours of the Khmer culture and tooting horns of the masses of motorbikes you see everywhere. ‘No tv tonight kids, daddy’s got a slideshow you have to come and watch!’ I’d so so love to bring them out here at some point to experience it for themselves. The only downer for us was watching England get knocked out in the semi-final against Croatia and because we were five hours ahead of Russia, that was indeed a late late night!

I can’t write about this trip without making special mention of the hospitality we received. Throughout the trip, we never wanted for anything. The Guest House was impeccable and a simply perfect location for all that we did, as was Aly who served us so well along with her beautiful smile greeting you each morning as you made your way down for your breakfast. (Her Khmer curry is to die for too!) Tom, Georgie, Sok, Sokchea and the ever effervescent Dren were great companions in almost everything we did, helping with the language barrier on my occasions. Master Yoda, aka Chamnap, was a fountain of knowledge for all things Khmer. And then of course we had our wonderful hosts, David and Esther, a very special couple who have won the hearts of not only me and my own family, but our Lakeside family too. You can’t help but be blessed and encouraged by spending only a few minutes in their company. Their passion for the work and love for the Cambodian people is second to none and it was so evident once again to see that reciprocated in the hearts of those they lead and serve. Thank you both so much. Saying goodbye to Cambodia is a wrench in itself, but saying goodbye to these two is painful as they are such an awesome couple. I thank God for social media that along with advancing technology has made the world a much smaller place so keeping in touch is so much more easier than ever before. Regular FaceTime calls will once again have to be the order of the day until we get the opportunity to chat in person once more.

What next? Well, another team trip at some point is definitely in the planning. For me though right now, it’s a welcome return home to be reunited with my wife and young ones, to share out with them daddy’s love of shopping in the Russian Markets, and of course to keep leading Lakeside church forward, but through it all, be looking for ways we can continue to help the work of Elim Cambodia step more and more into all God has for it. Bring it on!

Thankful for the Pioneers!

It’s been a real blast this week since we picked up the latest team to visit the work of Elim Cambodia. This time it is the turn of Lakeside Church from Southport to come and bless us in many different ways. It is such a privilege to have become such good friends over the last few years with Pastor Richard and Georgina Vernon, their wonderful children and amazing church family. To now have Richard and the team with us is such an answer to prayer.

I don’t want to say too much about what the team has been doing because next week Pastor Richard will hopefully share a bit about the trip, so today I want to focus on someone in the team and his very special family.

We have been in Cambodia since March 2011 and although we have witnessed many spectacular things that God has done, the reason the work has flourished I believe is because the foundations that were laid way back when the work started here in Cambodia. Anyone that has pioneered something knows it is not easy.  It requires sacrifice, it requires commitment, it requires perseverance and it requires patience. These are all attributes that the Walker family showed when they stepped out of their normal life to do the opposite of what makes sense, by sacrificing everything for Jesus. In 2003 Kay and Neville Walker set out with their children to start a work here that would outgrow their dreams and visions of those first moments while here!  We were delighted to renew friendship with Kay and Neville whilst we were at the Elim Leadership Summit in May along with Pastor Chamnap!

Hence this is why it was so special for us all to welcome one of the Walker clan within the team this week.  Craig, the Youth Pastor of Lakeside church was 6 years old when he came to Cambodia with mum and dad. It has been 11 years since he lived in Phnom Penh and so much has changed. When he had been living here Nita and Sokhom carried out much baby sitting as they along with Srey Phoas were trained up by Kay and they all got very close to Craig and his younger brother Peter.

It was so special to see Nita’s reunion with Craig and he is looking forward to meeting Sokhom at the weekend. I want to finish today’s blog by really honouring Kay and Neville for laying such beautiful foundations and for having invested time, money and themselves in a vision that is still our vision today. So that none should perish, let’s all take a moment today to think about what we can sacrifice for the sake of God’s kingdom.

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