Archive for October, 2018

Exciting Times for Amazing People!

I would like to start this blog by saying a huge thanks to you for your prayers for my Mum. With having guest bloggers the last few weeks I haven’t been able to share the news that she has finished all her treatment now. In Belfast when you are finished the radiotherapy you get to ring the bell, which I personally believe is a fantastic idea.  I got to be honest when I watched a short video of my Mum ringing the bell I had a few tears. I from a distance and for a while up close have seen the way the drugs take no prisoners and to say we are so proud of Mum and Dad is the biggest understatement ever. I also want to thank my sister Kellie, brother Philip, and close friends of my parents for all the extra they have done because we are not there. We were delighted this week to see that my Mum’s hair has started to grow back and I would ask you to continue to pray as each day passes that my Mum gets her strength back as well.

We have just had two amazing people come and work with us, the first was Laura or LJ as we called her. A young lady who has an anointing on her like I haven’t seen in a long time. She spoke so well in all the bible studies and prayer meetings we had along with preaching in the village. LJ I want to just say to you that Jesus was misunderstood and scoffed at many times, He had Pharisees watching and many times challenging Him. But it did not derail his mission it made Him more determined and He persevered. Please don’t ever let go of your vision, your mission or your journey, I would love to work with you again someday and until then know you are in our hearts and in our prayers!

The second person was Luke and he was a bundle of joy, happiness and a little bit of crazy lol.  We had a saying that we used on many occasions after one of his fun filled moments which was simply “We love Luke“. The last time I had a male early learning years teacher in my company was probably never.  In fact, because of his larger than life attitude and the way he threw himself into our ELC we realised that he was the double of Mr Poppy from the Nativity Trilogy films. I have to say it’s been a while since we had a young man come on his own and make such an immediate impact, but that’s just Luke. We pray that as you chill before heading back to the UK that you will return to England with a definite plan for your life, but please keep us in the loop because we would so love to work with you again one way or the other.

In the week that lies ahead we have two special things happening, the first is Pastor Chamnap and Pastor Sarak are leading three days training with 30 Pastors in Kep, with the thought of training them to plant churches in their surrounding villages. Please pray that God will give them the right words of challenge and encouragement to these wonderful brothers, and also health and strength for the trainers.

The second thing is my beautiful, amazing wife Esther has her birthday on Thursday, I am so thankful that I get to do life with one of the most caring, loving people to the destitute and outcasts of this world. Over the past week she accompanied Sokim, Chamnap, Sophea and Aly to an organisation where 40 young girls heard about the Be Free program. While there Esther spoke from start to finish in Khmer, clear and precise was the reports I got back.  She is an inspiration and is so dedicated to not only seeing lives changed here but all over the world from her vision and heart for the Be Free program. Esther as you celebrate your 48th birthday know you are loved and cherished by lives you have touched from all over the world. You are significant in God’s eyes and nothing else needs to be said but I love you to the moon and back as do Meg and Ruby. Please friends on Thursday pray for Esther that God will open doors so that she can impact even more lives with the good news of Jesus.

 

Guest Blog from Luke

Hello, my name is Luke and I have been here in Phnom Penh for 2 weeks. During my stay I have been able to spend time working alongside the staff in the Early Learning Centre, work together with Georgie to deliver a staff training session on ‘Toddlers Development’ and ‘The Key Principles of The Early Years’ as well as an outreach trip to Kep with the church planting team.

I started my time in Cambodia by venturing off with the church planting team and Tom to Kep. Once we had arrived in Kep, we all enjoyed some food and Dren kindly gave me a guitar lesson, we headed to the village. We had to walk through rice fields (bare foot as it was so muddy) to reach the destination. The team brought snacks for the children, speakers and equipment through the mud and puddles. I was very quickly blown away by the dedication of these guys to spread the gospel not only to the children but the surrounding community. The whole team were amazing to observe and I could only begin to imagine how proud God must be all of them.

The rest of my time has been spent in the Early Learning Centre.  As an Early Years Professional it has been a joy to witness how the children in the ELC are nurtured and educated. The staff are all so dedicated and eager to improve practice and learn more. It has been a really special time for me here, more so to see what God is doing and how he is providing a safe a wonderful place for these children.

I have loved spending time with Dave and Esther, listening to the testimonies of how God has redeemed the lives of so many here in Cambodia. I have seen how God has used Dave and Esther to bless and sow into the lives of so many people here, and now he has used them to bless and sow into my life too. Thank you Jesus.

 

Guest blog by LJ

I’m LJ (Laura) and I’ve been in Cambodia for 4 weeks.  I was in India last month and I will be traveling to the Philippines tomorrow. 

This past week in Cambodia has been Pchum Ben holiday.  This has meant it’s been quieter than my first three weeks here as many people go back to their provinces to be with their family at this time.  Many things closed over the holiday time, including the Early Learning Centre and Be Free, which meant I got to spend some quality time with Davy, Esther, Tom, Georgie, Sophie, and people from church who had not or were not going back to their provinces. On Tuesday we invited everyone from the church who would still be in Phnom Penh to have dinner with us, and the numbers grew and grew. We spent the afternoon cooking lots of food together and in the evening we gathered at the church, ate together, and enjoyed each others’ company.

On Wednesday afternoon, Sophie and I went to a local cafe with two girls who work at Elim and their daughters. It was great to spend time with them and getting to know them better. After we returned, one of them gave me a lesson on how to drive a moto. This was on my bucket list so I was so thankful to have that opportunity, and I didn’t fall off which was an added bonus! The other skill I learnt this week was crocheting. Esther is a brilliant teacher and I’m sure I’ll be crocheting on the plane tomorrow.

This morning a group of us went to the local market to buy ingredients to make Khmer curry this evening. I am super excited to eat it and I trust it will be worth the trauma of seeing half alive fish and animal meat all over the market (being a vegetarian is interesting in Cambodia).

I’m sad to be leaving Cambodia tomorrow, even though I have only been here four weeks.  I have met some amazing people who have taught me so much, and I have been blessed by all the stories I have heard of how people came to faith despite their difficult life circumstances. It has been a privilege to spend time making crafts with the girls in Be Free, and it was an honour to do Bible studies with them. As much as I came here as a volunteer hoping to help in whatever way I could, I know that the people here have taught me more than I could have imagined about community, discipleship, and pursuing the dreams God gives to us. I think Elim Cambodia is currently in a really exciting season; it’s really evident to see the work God is doing here, in their main church, as well as in the church plants.

I am so thankful to David and Esther for allowing me to be a part of the work they are doing here in Cambodia, and alongside them I am thankful for Tom, Georgie, Sophie, and Luke, who have have been family to me during my time here. I have leant many practical things about ministry, and I am taking away new skills, but my greatest highlight from my time in Cambodia is the conversations I have had with people about God, hearing how He speaks to all of us differently, and places different passions in each of our hearts. Seeing the team at Elim Cambodia work passionately at what they do has helped me see more clearly what God is asking me to do, and for that I am extremely grateful. 

 

A Time to Go and a Time to Return

About 2 years ago we set up a plan to go into an area that had no Christian influence, the seaside city resort of Kep, with a population of around 40,000. With only a handful of people that we barely knew as our early influence we started English classes that eventually led to youth gatherings. Our intention, our goal was to develop a centre that could be multi purpose with English classes, guitar lessons, sports ministries, youth work and, of course, a church. Eventually we would also use it as a resource base which our team could reach into surrounding villages and communes starting house churches and childrens’ ministries.

So with our vision and strategy in place we started to put it into action. It took sacrifice from us all to make it happen. In the early days Visal, Chamnap, Sochea, Dren and Sarak stayed away from their wives and children on a weekly basis to make it all possible. The students came, the relationships were strategic with school principles and government officials and things really started to take shape. We had and have a great relationship with New Life Fellowship who helped the work financially and resourcefully and I publicly want to thank them again for this. Stage 1 was complete and then stage 2 was ready to begin.

This is were we had to approach and ask Sarak and Sophea to go just like we did ourselves.  We knew that it would take massive sacrifice leaving behind family and friends, giving up their home and all the other things that were normal to them.  They would have to leave behind their church family, those who were their closest friends. It was a difficult ask because we know what it means and how difficult it would be for them and even with support that we knew they would have. I must at this stage honour them they talked, prayed, talked and obeyed, not us; but God’s call on their lives.

So off they went to start the church and the rest is history, many difficulties along the way but they were faithful as was God. People were saved, baptised and disciples became disciple makers. Both Sarak and Sophea should know how proud we are of them.  In every work and situation problems come along, Satan does not want us to be doing good things, so he tries his best to derail ministries but he is defeated because of Jesus and we just need to remind him of that.

About 6 months ago we started to realise that the sacrifices were becoming increasingly difficult with Harry and Jonny reaching ages that they need other kids around them and an early years education which we offer so well in Phnom Penh. We talked with Sarak and Sophea and decided we would all pray and that if God wanted things to change we would find a family that could easily replace and add to the work in Kep. Seemed impossible to us but not to God.  Jonny Hamill who has been very close friends of ours along with Jill his wife since we arrived here almost 8 years ago, spoke to me and told me about an amazing pastor and church planter who needed a job. So we interviewed Piseth and not only was he perfect but also understood Elim’s core values and was totally onboard.  Trust me he was a blessing sent by God. So Piseth and his youth worker Baul have been training along with Sarak and Sophea for the last few months and this Sunday will be their first Sunday leading the work on their own, it is very exciting!

Last Wednesday night we had a celebration to celebrate Sarak and Sophea’s return to the city, to the work here and back into a church family that really missed them. I explained to the church that they were called to do a certain task of pioneering the work and now God has another plan for them. That’s the beauty of God, if we listen to Him and we follow His leading eventually we will complete that plan and then God can use us in different ways, in the ways He desires. That’s the case for Sarak and Sophea, they went, they surrendered, they completed the job and they returned. Now God has an even bigger plan for their lives.  We celebrate all God has done through them and as Sarak assists Chamnap lead the church in Phnom Penh, and Sophea helps with the Bible studies and general Christian well-being of our Be Free girls and centre staff, please pray for them both.

Friends I don’t know where you are at, what you are up to in life’s great journey, but I want to encourage you don’t be scared to follow God’s call on your life. But also know that there will come a day just like Sarak and Sophea when you will maybe have to hand it over and that’s ok, God’s plans are bigger than our plans, handing over successfully is one of the hardest things to do, to walk away and leave something successful should always be the goal but in human nature so many struggle to do this. We salute Sarak and Sophea for a job well done, God bless you both!

Please continue to pray for Kep and the new leaders Piseth and Baul, for Sarak and Sophea settling back in and the work they will do, and for us all and yourselves that we keep focused on what God’s will is not our own; and that if that day comes when it’s time to hand over and move on that we will all do it as successfully as Sarak and Sophea.

IMG_3823