Archive for June, 2019

Hot of the Press!

I would like to apologise for the blog being a day late but we had a very special reason for this. As you know almost a year ago we made a decision; a life changing decision, but one we totally believe was directed by God. We want to thank you all for trusting us in our decision.  We have always said and we totally stand by the fact that there are 3 main reasons we decided to leave Cambodia. For those of you that don’t know here they are again.

  1. We set out to build a team that could one day lead everything in country without needing foreigners to be in charge. Over the last 5 years we have seen Pastor Chamnap develop into our National leader and the team; key leaders grow to a point where we are not needed anymore here in Cambodia. We are so proud of each of them especially Nita, Sokim, Sarak and Sokhom along with the elders Dren and Visal.
  2. As the work has grown the need for funding has also grown.  We have some very good churches supporting Elim Cambodia and we cannot thank you enough for your support over the years.  We encourage you even more to trust these guys and sow as much as you possibly can into their vision and heart for the lost and needy. Both Esther and I know that being in the UK will enable us to get churches on board with the work, we need churches to invest in the church planting vision and strategy.  We desperately need churches to sign up and support Be Free Cambodia;  we require 5 additional churches to give £250 a month to help us keep this amazing Elim anti trafficking program running successfully. So we are coming back to do even more to help our heroes as they get on with the work.
  3. Our final reason was to be closer to our families, we have had a number of serious illnesses in our families over the last number of years and it’s very hard being so far away. We feel that being in England and only an hour away on a plane is much more helpful to our parents and those we love the most.

 

This last 10 months has been very difficult because we are doing something that we didn’t envisage coming along after 8 years, we didn’t expect to do ourselves out of a job. But because God is so amazing and has really grown this team we know that the final thing we would have to do to be obedient was to release them. That’s the hardest thing for so many leaders to release and trust God, but we are ok with it because it has never been about us. Many people have asked ‘Are the Cambodians ready?’ and my answer is yes because they have the same God that has used us and is going to use them.  They know how to rely on Him and trust him, so hard and all as this has been we are ready for our next chapter.

As I have already stated this is hard because we are sad to leave but we are also extremely excited about what lies ahead. We would like to thank you all for being extremely patient throughout the whole process when we couldn’t share the information of our future, out of respect to those who need to know first. So we have had to keep quiet but this morning an announcement has been made that now allows us to finally tell you all our exciting news.

At the start of the year we were approached by Pastor Richard Vernon and Georgina his wife from Lakeside Elim Church in Southport. Over the next few months we entered talks that led to us being interviewed in May for me to take up a role as a Pastor under Richard’s leadership and to join their exciting team. The Elders met with us and after an interview we were offered the post. Both Esther and I were and are delighted to be joining such a lively, thriving church. Our roles will have an emphasis on Pastoral care and helping strategise on church planting in the area. This is so perfect for what we have a heart for and also with Lakeside having such a close association with Cambodia is the icing on top of the cake. God is so good and we are extremely blessed. We cannot thank Richard, Georgina, Matt, Maria and the eldership team for believing in us and giving us this opportunity.  We are overjoyed to be joining your team. So our intention is to leave Cambodia on 20th August with Meg and Ruby, arriving in Southport on 21st August. We already have a house to rent, God has been all over this move, He has opened many difficult doors to help us and we cannot thank Him enough.

But there are some areas in which we could do with your help.  We value your prayers especially for Meg and Ruby, they are so special to us and they are going to have quite the ordeal of travelling as cargo in the plane we will be on. We will be flying with Qatar airways and they pride themselves in their animal care but we are still very nervous. We will have a change in Qatar and then on to Manchester airport. So please pray that God protects them and brings them safely to the other side. Obviously we need prayer as well for those final goodbyes and the initial settling in period at our new home.

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We have been so blessed by you all over the years and I would ask if you have been supporting us personally could you continue to do that until the end of November. It is common practice for missionaries when they return to receive 3 months support to help with settling back in. We want to go on record thanking everyone that has helped us, especially our home church Bangor Elim for being extreme in their generosity from the first day we left in 2011 right up to now. You will always be so close to our hearts and we will always be connected to Bangor Elim.

If you haven’t been supporting us over the years but could or would like to help us as we are returning to the UK with very little. We need to furnish a house, get a car of some sort, pay rent in advance, buy different kinds of clothes from the summer clothes we wear all year round. Setting back is extremely costly and we could do with your help if you are in the position to do so. We have a PayPal donate option at the bottom of our blog and if you want to help please know we deeply appreciate your support and pray Gods blessing upon you for assisting us at this time.

Finally we will be starting our new roles in Lakeside on 1st September and will let you know shortly about our induction service which will be held mid September. I urge you to please continue to pray for Cambodia and to support the work as much as you can. Thank you so much for your prayers and generosity, God bless David & Esther.

 

 

Keep Sowing the Seed

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So Sarak, tell me about your childhood, how was it growing up?

I am 30 years old and originally come from Kandal Province. I was born into a big family of 10. My mother, father, 5 brothers and 3 sisters; of which I am the middle child. My family was always quite poor, my mother worked as a rice farmer and my father as a fisherman. Because my family was big, as a child, me and my siblings were split in half, some stayed with my mother and some with my auntie. This meant that I lived with my auntie for a few years as they didn’t have any children of their own.   I know this was a big sacrifice for my parents but they wanted my siblings and I to be well cared for.

At the age of 7, I started primary school, I went to school in the afternoon and helped my family look after the cows in the mornings. Often when I arrived home from school my parents would still be working, so I would go and help them. I walked to and from school and it was really far.  In school we learnt Khmer and a little bit of English. It was at this age when I heard about Jesus for the first time. Every week there was a kid’s club that would come to my village, I really enjoyed what they taught us about Jesus, and it grew inside my heart. Near my home there was also a Korean church that spoke English, so I went along because they taught me English for free and my family could not afford extra English classes at school.

 

As you became a teenager how did things change for you?

As a 13-year-old boy I loved sports; I played ping pong, badminton and football a lot with the youth group at the Korean Church. I started to spend my time at church instead of school. At school I was laughed at because I was not good at English, my clothes were always messy and my hair quite scraggly. I found the church a safe place where I was not laughed at and they could take care of me, instead of my parents because they did not have the time. Instead of school I would go to church then look after the cows every day.

 

When was it that you came to the city, Phnom Penh?

At 16-years-old I was introduced to an organisation teaching hygiene who asked me to work with them for 3 months.  During this time I began to get a real foundation in the Christian faith. They taught me so much about God and what it meant to live a Christian life. I shared a bicycle with my friend so I would ride across the city on the handle bars to go for guitar lessons, learning chords and how to read music.  

It was at this time my boss told me “God has called you to do something special”.  Because I had not heard God speak to me before, I was confused about how God spoke to her and she would know this about my future. At this time I was asked to be a permanent member of  staff. I worked for this organisation for 2 ½ years, I earned a lot of money, not too much, but because I was from a poor family this was so much for me! I was gifted a motorbike and as my salary started to come in, I stopped going to church and spent my time with friends. Because of this I quit my job because it was no longer my passion and I got involved in things that were not good.

Life was hard for a number of years, I had no education, no skills and my future didn’t look good at all.  I eventually went to my brother who was living in the city and I started to help out at his motorbike shop where I worked cleaning and fixing bikes. For 2 ½ years I didn’t go to church, and I had little money to buy food for myself. I became really malnourished. People called my Mr Crab because I was skinny and my eyes popped out.  I didn’t go home to my family as I felt I had disapppointed them and I wasn’t able to provide for myself or help support my parents.

How did you find Elim after all of this?

I was found by Chamnap and Nita from working in the motorbike shop.  They told me they were Christians and I started going to church and would play the guitar each week.  I would walk a long way from the motorbike shop to Elim early in the morning because I was so eager to be there. I used my walking time to pray to God.

I was also teaching a guitar class and this is where I met my wife Sophea.  After sharing with her about Jesus, she accepted God and a few years later we got married.

I then began to work at an organisation called Destiny Rescue.  For 3 years I helped with running Kids clubs, teaching classes, buyng food for their lunches and driving a tuk-tuk. I was asked by Chamnap if I wanted a job working with him at Hagar,  I became a special needs teacher and working with community outreach in 2013.

So, when did you start working for Elim?

As Elim grew I became the youth leader on a voluntary basis and then in 2014 I was asked to join the team in a paid position.  Part of my role included running the youth, serving in the church and being mentored by David and Chamnap.  

David asked what I really wanted to do in my role in Elim. I told him, my mother and father that I wanted to start a kids club in my home where I grew up. This was difficult because my parents weren’t Christians.  The first Happy Kids Club was launched and a few years later the first church in the province was planted.  My mother came to the Lord after asking for healing and my father also became a Christian shortly after this. They were both baptised along with others from their community.  They are key members of the church held at their home and have been instrumental in teaching their neighbours about Jesus.

What are you currently doing Sarak?

Now, I am leader of the church planting team and a pastor at Elim Phnom Penh, I am a counsellor for the church and the staff at Elim. My responsibilities include looking after the city church and  I am a co-worker to David and Chamnap. I am still involved with my home town and the ministry there.

Now I have a very beautiful wife and 2 children Harry 3 ½ and Jonny 1 ½. I love having 2 boys because I want to see my boys become men of God, clever and strong in their own ways. I want my Elim family to help them grow to.

Psalm 34:5 “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame”. My journey has taught me to consistently look towards God and He will take me where I need to go and I will see many things happen with him.

What are you excited about and looking forward to?

The growth of the city church, I want the church to be the centre of everything that provides resources,  a place for study, and accommodation for those who don’t have. I want the church to be like an octopus reaching out in every way everywhere.

Romans 3:28 is a key verse reminding me of God’s love for me and that he won’t stop. Never mind how many times I go away, He has called me.

Prayer points:

  • The change, as David and Esther go home that we will stay united and that we won’t struggle but keep pushing forward.
  • Wisdom, as a pastor of the church. It is not easy; I need wisdom from God to deal with situations that arise.
  • Carry on sharing the good news to reach more and do bigger things with God and keep sowing the seed.
  • About my dream to run an education centre that will affect and have impact in the community.
  • Journey with us, support us, visit us, we are God’s family and we are in this together.

Introducing Sok

My name is Sok, I am 24 years old and I come from Kampong Cham province.  I came to Phnom Penh when I was 9 years old.  When I was 12 years old I lived in a home with other children run by a Christian organisation.  Every Sunday all the children went to church and I started to hear about Jesus.  At first I went to Sunday school and after one year I then began to go to youth and learnt more about Jesus and why we should believe in Him.  They taught me about in the beginning God made everything and each week I learnt more and more.  When I knew clearly about Jesus dying on the cross for my sin I gave my life to Him and then I got baptised.

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For the next few years my life was very difficult, I had no family to help me and the organization couldn’t support me anymore.  I was now a mum to my daughter and I started to come to the Elim church.  One week at the prayer meeting I shared that I needed to find a job to be able to support my daughter.  Sokim, the manager of Be Free, met with me and offered me a place in the training program.  I was so happy and thankful to God because while I studied new skills in Be Free my daughter was also being cared for in the ELC. 

After one year I graduated from Be Free and although I was sad to leave my family there I was really excited to learn a new skill and work in a cafe.  I also continued to be part of the Elim family and I serve as part of the worship team in church.  I  am happy when I lead worship, I can connect with God and know how much he loves me.  When I sing in church, I want everyone to know God has a plan for them and how much He loves us.  When people don’t know God, they have sin and live far away from God, I want them to come close to God and to know the love God has for them. 

I worked in the cafe for one and a half years and although I’m happy I still pray about what God wants me do for Him.  He put on my heart a desire to share the Bible with everyone.  At this time Elim Cambodia needed someone to join the church planting team.  I made a CV, applied for the job and following an interview the pastors chose me to join the team.  Now I have worked with the church planting team for 2 years teaching children and young people about God.  This is what I must do because God wants me to bring people to Him.  Not my plan but God’s plan!

When my schedule is free I also help in the ELC in the baby room, toddlers and preschool.  I love being with the children and helping the other staff.  I also enjoy meeting the girls in Be Free,  encouraging them and joining them for Bible study.

When I go to the village with my work I worry about my daughter and what I need to teach her.  I had no love from my parents when I was young but now my family, Elim church, worry and care about me; they help look after my daughter, encourage me and I am so happy.

In my spare time I like to listen to worship music, read my Bible, clean my home and take my daughter out – she enjoys going to the playground.  I love being Sophieya’s mum – she is so clever and funny; when I’m sad she makes me happy, and she tells funny stories to make me laugh.

I continue to pray for what God’s plan for the future is for me, I trust in Him.  Every morning I pray and read my Bible and God teaches me what I need to do.  

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My favourite verses is the Bible is 1 Corinthians 3:4-7 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?  What, after all, is Apollos?  And what is Paul?  Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord as assigned to each his task.  I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.  So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  

In the past when I had a problem God never pushed me away, He never went far away from me.   I sometimes make mistakes but God still loves me and His love never changes.  God changed my life, before I had nothing but now I have everything.  God can do the same for you!  Just believe in Him and He will change your life!

An Interview with Aly

What is your name and how old are you?

My name is Chhenly but my friends call me Aly or Aly Baba and I am 23 years old.

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When did you first hear about Elim Cambodia?

In January 2015 I started attending Phnom Penh Elim because I lived near to Sokim and Sok, two members of the church.  Around this time my daughter Solyka was 2 and a half years old and she was going to Elim’s Early Learning Centre.  In June I lost my job working in a restaurant because the owner wanted me to work evening shifts and I couldn’t because of my daughter.  Sokim chatted to me and because of my early childhood and life I was accepted into the Be Free program.

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What did you enjoy most during your time in Be Free?

I enjoyed studying Khmer and English, making crafts and using the sewing machine, making cards which I had never done before.  I was happy because I was part of a big family with lots of friends.

What happened when you graduated from Be Free?

When I graduated from Be Free I started to work in the ELC because sometimes I volunteered there when the manager was short of staff due to sickness or holiday and I really enjoyed caring for the children.  I began to work in the toddler room and also helped sometimes with the baby room.  I love all the babies and children so much, and loved being part of the ELC team.

What took place next?

Elim Cambodia started to rent a property that would become a guesthouse for teams and visitors rather than them having to stay in hotels.  David and Esther asked me if I would like to manage the guesthouse and I was so happy!  I love cooking food and making everything tidy and clean.  When the rennovations were being done in the guesthouse there was so much mess and for three weeks I had to clean everyday!  I really enjoyed going to the market with David and Esther to buy everything I would need in the kitchen and for all the guests in the bedrooms and other rooms.

Who were the first people to stay in the guesthouse?

A group of Elim missionaries came to stay during the first Global Asia conference in September 2017.  I really enjoyed making breakfast for the guests, making the beds and cleaning the rooms everyday.  I am so happy looking after people and helping them during their stay in Cambodia.  I want them to be well fed, sleep well and be comfortable when they are away from home.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Meeting lots of people from all over the world, I have so many friends from working in the guesthouse.  My English has improved because I am speaking everyday and I also teach the guests a little bit of Khmer.  I really enjoy cooking food for the guests especially Khmer curry, which I am told is the best in Phnom Penh! When I go to the market to buy food sometimes the team members want to go with me if they have free time.  

Are there any challenges with working in the guesthouse?

At the start my English was not so good and I found it hard to communicate with the guests and had a lot of new vocabulary to learn but I had good teachers to help me.  Now I love everything about my job and am so happy!

Are you involved in any other ministries in Elim Cambodia?

I used to help with the sound desk in church and when the church plant team went to the village on Sunday I would help with the Kids Clubs.  When I have free time I still go with the church plant team and I really enjoy this.  For the past 5 months I have been part of the youth team organising the events whenever we meet.  I was really excited to see my dream come true of holding a youth camp in Kep and we all had a fantastic time playing games together, times of worship, eating together and seeing young people commit their lives to Jesus and get baptised!

Aly you always work so hard and we have to tell you to take time off!  What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Spending time with my daughter, listening to music, going to the salon and getting my hair washed, and running.  I took part in the 10k run for the the past two years in Siem Reap and I am training to compete in the 21k in November.  

What is your favorite Bible verse?

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritate or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.

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What else would you like to share?

I love telling people about God, sharing my story in how God even before I was born knew me and knew what would happen to me.  God always had a plan for my life, a good plan and I want everyone to know the God I know.  

I also want to thank everyone who comes to Cambodia and stays in the guesthouse.  Not only are you enabling me to have a job but you are making a difference to the lives of many Khmer people.  The church planting team are able to plant new Elim churches and Elim Kids Clubs because of you.  I am so glad to belong to the Elim family and to be a part of what God is doing in Cambodia.  God bless you!