Archive for July, 2019

The Most Special of Memories

July has been crazy!  We have had teams visiting, special friends visiting, a fabulous staff retreat and a renewal of vows to my beautiful wife Esther on our 25th wedding anniversary. We have learnt many things over the last 8 years but the most special thing has been how much we are loved by our Cambodian family.

With only just over 3 weeks before we say our ‘see you laters’ we have seriously mixed emotions.  So sad to leave and say goodbye to people that are our lives, but excited as well for the amazing opportunity of joining the team at Lakeside Elim church in Southport. What makes it even more special is we are leaving Cambodia completely confident in our team here, excited about what happens next and ready to generate support so the church planting can go full speed ahead. Finishing well has always been our focus and as we say those final farewells our hearts will ache but that is a representation of the love we all have for each other. Please continue to pray for us all in these moments.

A few months ago I suggested to Esther that as it would be our 25th wedding anniversary on 23rd July we should renew our vows down in Kep with Chamnap and Nita performing the ceremony with one or two of our staff. Esther was so happy with me and I was feeling I had come up with a special idea. A few months later and Esther had tweaked things a little, we had decided we couldn’t leave any of our staff out so we had a three day retreat with all our staff that could make it and some friends who were taking part in the ceremony.

I have to be honest I was a little perturbed at the escalation of how a small renewal ceremony was being called our second wedding, many people deliberately talked about our second wedding to keep me going. Esther decided she needed a new ring, that we should dress in Khmer clothes and somehow between us we ended up with three special people helping each of us. If ever I showed my wonderful wife that I loved her it was by agreeing to forget about embarrassing moments etc and just do it.

So we set off on Monday in two buses to go to Shalom Valley Christian outdoor pursuit centre in Kep. In total we had 31 people and we arrived around 1pm, the first afternoon was spent talking through the future with new structures and leaders etc, helping all the staff to understand. After dinner Esther, Marti, Wes, Zac, Jonny, Sophie, Grace and myself organised a games evening and we had so much fun with everyone. Tuesday was the big day, we started by meeting at the beach then after about an hour or so we headed back for lunch. While this was going on Sokim, Sok, Sopheavy, Nita and Chamnap stayed behind at Shalom to get the decorations and flowers set up for the ceremony.



At around 2.30pm the girls – Esther, Nita, Sokim and Chan Ra started getting their hair and make up done and dressed, and they all looked stunning. Then the boys – Jonny, Zac,  Dren and I got our clothes on and to my surprise I loved being dressed up. The photos started thanks to Sophie Moore who was the photographer for the afternoon. Then we began the ceremony. One of the special things about this all was we had our long term friends Marti and Wes Williamson with us.  It was so special when Wes walked Esther down the aisle and handed her to me. We then had some worship with Sarak and Sok leading that,  it was as always excellent.  We then said our renewal vows and Pastor Chamnap was brilliant at keeping everything running smoothly.  Then the biggest surprise of the day. When Nita brought what we thought were the rings we were so surprised to find that the rings had been switched to beautiful gold rings with Esther’s full of diamonds. A gift from all the staff something that was not cheap at all but they had all clubbed together to show their appreciation and love towards us. It definitely cranked up the emotions and showed us both how much we are loved.

After the ceremony we had even more photos and enjoyed a meal together of Khmer curry and sweet and sour chicken which our wonderful cook Sow overseen, it was delicious. We finished the night with a video produced by Chamnap and then some dancing. Our first dance was to the song ‘Perfect’ by Ed Sheeran sang by Sok and Sarak again so well, after that the Cambodian dancing started and the rest is history.

On the Wednesday morning Esther and I had the privilege of taking devotions with our staff giving us the chance to share our hearts with them. Which was followed up by our Khmer family and friends saying something to us.  It was not something we knew was going to happen, but it was the most special of times. Afterwards we had a long journey home but as always Dren was a great driver and we got home safe and sound.


On Thursday night Nita and I went to the airport and collected Neville and Kay Walker along with Stephanie and Peter two of there children. They are here for a visit until 15th August.  It is very significant for us all as these are the guys who pioneered the work here many years ago and it’s so special for us all to let them see what God has been doing.

I want to finish by saying a big Happy birthday today to two special ladies. The first is my Mum, we are so thankful that after a long hard battle last year that we can celebrate today that you are doing so well.  We love and miss you so much and are praying you have a wonderful day. The second is our dear friend Sonya Beattie, someone who along with her husband Gary has helped us so much over the past 8 years. Sonya we love you and pray you have a special day. Finally congratulations to Sokhom and Rith on your new arrival born on Monday morning a baby girl weighing 5 lbs 9 ozs called Esther, a very special gesture for my Esther.

Guest Blog by Hannah

After a tuk-tuk journey, 2 fights over 16 hours and a drive back from Heathrow, I am finally back home in Malvern after a phenomenal 7 weeks in Cambodia. Despite my trip being to the same physical place that I spent 9 months in last year, oh how different it has been this time!  When I first set out on this journey to Cambodia last year, I was personally seeking to make a difference for God, whilst trying to learn more about Him and the huge world He made.  Many of you will know I had many amazing opportunities to explore my giftings, take on new challenges and serve in and around Elim Cambodia. I led Bible studies in Be Free, taught English, joined the church planting team in the villages and shared the Good News of Jesus to the people of Cambodia. The time I spent in Cambodia last time was such a time of growth and maturity of course I needed to go back!


After this trip my plan was to look for the right training, to set me up for what’s next! It was always my hope to do some leadership training, develop my Bible knowledge and get a better understanding of God and His mission. So as of September 2018, I embarked on a Theology degree at Regents Theological College. Throughout my first year of studies God provided every step along the way and taught me so much. After a year of training and equipping for ministry I couldn’t wait to return to Cambodia to pass on what I had learnt.


So, what has been the focus this summer? Lots of my time has been spent equipping, building up and teaching the amazing people in Elim Cambodia. Amongst many other things I have been involved in teaching English to the new girls in Be Free.  Being able to put into practice my recently acquired Tefl training left me feeling proud and encouraged, if not a little out of my comfort zone.  I also had the opportunity to get alongside the Khmer staff, teaching them how to make and share videos of the fantastic work that is taking place.  As David and Esther will be returning to the UK in the weeks ahead, this will be a great skill for the team to share about how they are growing and impacting the people of Cambodia. It was also a joy to work alongside one member of the team to design and build a website for the Church.  Sarak, who is now also one of the Pastors of the Elim Phnom Penh church told me it has always been his dream to know how to make a website and the proud smile on his face as we scrolled through the different pages we had created together also made me smile!  Check out

I am realising more and more as I step out in ministry that it is great to get alongside people and do what you can, but it is even better to equip others to achieve more than you can possibly achieve.  The final encouragement to me was seeing small beginnings blossom into significant ministries.  12 months ago I helped the team pioneer a youth group in the Phnom Penh church which had just started to get going when I left.  On my return it was amazing to see loads of young people had recently been on a retreat some of whom have now been baptised after choosing to follow Jesus.

I would like to say a huge thank you to David and Esther for their support and willingness to take me back whilst cheering me on to step out and play a small part in God’s story in Cambodia.


Guest Blog by Pastor Richard

As I write this, I’ve been back in the UK just a couple of hours having spent the past 10 days in Cambodia along with David and Esther and a team from Lakeside Church Southport. This is my third visit in as many years and the second missions trip we have organised to see and be part of the work there. This particular trip was extra special as we had made the announcement in our Sunday morning gathering on the day we flew out that David and Esther upon relocating back to the UK next month after almost nine faithful and incredibly fruitful years serving in Cambodia would be joining us on team – something we are all incredibly excited about. It was only three and a half years ago that our paths first crossed as they came to share about the work at one of our Missions Sunday services. From that moment, as they began to share about the work of the Early Learning Centre, the church planting goals, and of course, the heart rendering Be Free programme, we as a fellowship received them very much into our hearts and the rest as they say is history. Each year since then when they’ve been back on furlough, we’ve managed to get them to share with us all the latest on what’s been happening and our relationship has continued to grow from strength to strength. As we seek to establish church plants across our town, they were the ideal couple for us to invite onto our team and so to fly out directly after having made that announcement was incredibly poignant for us.

Alongside our Youth Pastor, Craig Walker who was out there with me last year, we had three debutants to the Cambodian experience, one of them being one of our elders and his wife. With them both being medics, we made the most of the opportunity building into the busy itinerary some villages to the church plants already in operation and provided health checks to all those in the villages who wanted one. In true Cambodian style, pretty much everyone who was around came out, along with their kids who became part of the Kids Clubs that were being run simultaneously. On each of the days we did this, there was a real buzz around the place and many were introduced to the work of Elim for the first time. It’s such an amazing work they have taking place here and the whole team will stop at absolutely nothing in order to reach their people with the good news. Their vision of establishing one church in every village is already well under way in the province of Kep which is set to have a house church meeting in each of its eighteen villages by the end of the year. The lengths they go to to see this happen is incredibly humbling and challenging at the same time, walking far distances when the terrain is unsuitable for any other vehicle than the traditional moto to get through.  If only I could bottle what they have and bring it back for all my people including myself to drink, I firmly believe we would see massive shifts taking place across our town here in Southport.

Since our first meeting with David and Esther, we have taken Cambodia very much into our hearts. And with them becoming part of Team Lakeside from September, the links we have with Pastor Chamnap and his team of leaders has just got a whole lot stronger. One of the key moments for me on this trip was for a number of us to sit down together one morning to strategise a few things and listen to their dreams of what could be. It’s an incredibly exciting time for them all and they do indeed have a big dream. It’s one that we are delighted and privileged to be able to play a small part in. Already, my mind is buzzing with ideas on ways we as a local fellowship can continue to help them as they seek to take the work forward. Pastor Chamnap is a highly capable leader and the team that he and David and Esther together have built around him is strong indeed. They are setting themselves up well for all that lies ahead.

In next week’s blog, you will hear from some of the team who accompanied me on the trip their own thoughts and experiences from their time there, but perhaps the one that stands out the most for me is on the penultimate night as we all attended the weekly prayer meeting, following Craig’s inspiring message, Pastor Chamnap felt prompted to give a specific altar call for salvation. There were only two people present who weren’t already Christians, but the meeting ended with them both receiving Jesus into their hearts (it really doesn’t get any better than that) and them and others expressing their desire to then get baptised. What a perfect ending to such a fantastic trip.

As always, the hospitality we received was second to none, as was the food we ate both in the Guest House and in the varied restaurants we frequented. It was such a great triple round and already we are looking into dates to repeat the process next year.

In closing, I’m sure most of you who read this will be extremely familiar with all that’s happening in Elim Cambodia, but if you’re new to it, or you might think this is something your own church could really become involved with, please speak to us as we would love to tell you more. One day, it might then be you writing a blog of your time there. I do hope this has encouraged many of you.

Every blessing.


Introducing Dren, the Church Planter!

My name is Khoun Sambo but people call me Dren.   I was born in 1987 into a Buddist family, a good family that had money and was able to provide for my brother, sister and I.  When I was younger I saw many people worshipping God and studying English in the church but I didn’t want to join them because I was a Buddhist and felt it wasn’t good for me to go. I went to school up until grade 7, I struggled a little bit and had to do level 4 twice. Once I learnt to read and write I stopped going to school.  This happened at the same time as my family broke down and we lost a lot of money because my Dad gambled.

In 2000 I came to the city and worked in a Chinese factory, where I earned a good salary.  In 2006 I met Chantha and we got married in 2007.   At this time I was working as a moto dop driver for 2 years.  Then I left to go to Thailand to work as a fisherman, without Chantha, but I came back because this job wasn’t safe for me.  When I returned in 2008 I started to work as a Tuk Tuk driver.  I had lots of customers and because of this I also learnt English.  I kept my tuk tuk near the Russian market where all the foreigners go and always need transport.

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Then in 2009 I started to work for Elim church as the tuk tuk driver.  I met Chamnap, Nita, Sarak and Sokhom.  I wanted to know what the church does and why it changed their lives.  I lived as half Christian and half Buddhist.  I prayed one day to God and said if it’s your plan tell me and I will work for you.  In 2011 I met David and Esther and they taught me about Jesus and God started answering my prayers.

I was invited to go to Australia for 3 months by a Christian organisation where I stayed with a Christian family, went to their church and worked on their watermelon farm.

During this time I learnt three things:

  1.  God doesn’t always answer

     2.  God sometimes tells us to wait

     3.  God answers quickly

Before I always worked so many hours to provide for my family but when I came back from Australia I realised God was number 1, family number 2 and work number 3.  Knowing Jesus really transformed my life!

Chantha came to church with me and she studied the Bible for Beginners course every week. She became a Christian too and we both got baptised in 2011 along with my mum who also had given her life to Jesus!  I’m so happy that God saved my family; my Dad also became a Christian before he passed away.

Now my job is working full time with the church planting team.  I teach the children and adults about God.  As we read in Matthew 28:19-20  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”  I love doing the great commission as my job.

I want to see my country changed and everyone to have Jesus in their life.  The right person to trust and walk with,  I know only God can really help people! No spirit house, no idol; only one living God in your heart.

I didn’t study at high school but I have learnt so much,  I know God and He has given me  the capabilities I have. He’s helped me with studying the Bible to teach others, and I also can now use the computer and play the guitar as part of the worship team.

I love my family; before my wife and I knew Jesus we would often fight and have problems but now our life is so good.  Chantha is part of the team in Be Free working as the sewing teacher.  She really loves her job and is also part of the worship team in church. We have two daughters Kannika is 10 years old and Maryna is 2. Please pray for Maryna because her health hasn’t been good since she was born.  She has to go to the hospital often and has problem with chest infections and having the cold a lot.  My older daughter is very clever, loves Jesus, enjoys going to school to learn and reads a lot. Kannika likes to ask questions about the Bible to pastors that come to Cambodia. She keeps growing in God and in knowledge. I think one day she could be a pastor.

Because Cambodians are mostly Buddhist some people don’t want to listen when we start to talk about God in the villages and they go home.  When this happens it breaks my heart because I used to be the same worshipping other Gods.  It reminds me of Jesus healing the people with leprosy and only 1 come back to thank him and 9 went away.  God’s timing is perfect and He will reach them when He wants to.

I share my testimony with people about how Jesus changed my life, because I used to be Buddhist too, I would have stolen chickens and kept money.  God’s truth is the only truth, my job is to help people see this.  My heart breaks because not everyone knows Jesus, I work with the church planting team so people will come to Jesus one by one.

In my spare time I drive a rickshaw and I have a story to share with you.  One evening I had many customers who used the passapp to book a rickshaw.  During the evening I then discovered that a customer had left their laptop bag at the back of my ricksshaw.  When I opened the bag I saw the laptop and I really liked it.  I wanted to keep it and for a moment I thought God had blessed me. Then I realised it was not mine and I needed to find the owner. I tried to call the customers who had used my rickshaw and finally I phoned a number and the lady confirmed that she had lost her laptop.  When I drove to her house she knew the password and she cried because she knew in Cambodia you never get back what you lose.  When I gave her back the laptop she saw my heart and Jesus at work in and through me.  She asked me why I brought it back and I told her I was a Christian and told her about Jesus.  Two days later I went to my office and there on my desk was a brand new laptop!  God blessed me because I did the right thing.

My favourite character in the Bible is Job because he was a good man.  But one day he lost everything! I like him because his heart was strong, he always trusted in God and he received a blessing two times as much as he had before.  This reminds me that sometimes we have problems but we can still believe that God will always look after us.  For me when my parents died in the same year this story of Job really helped me! I know they are now with Jesus and I will see them both again one day!