Happy Khmer New Year to all the Khmers who read this blog! For those who are not of Khmer decent can celebrate with us anyway! For me, as a missionary from the United States, it is a blessing to be able to celebrate two new years because I get to set, renew, and reflect on goals twice in one year. I get to set my goals in January with my American friends and get to set new goals in April with my local friends. I think it's important to share goals and hold each other accountable and encourage one another to achieve such goals, especially if they are goals for Christ!
As I reflect on the work in Siem Reap, Cambodia and how we first started from nothing to where we are now is truly remarkable. God has truly blessed the work here and I am so thankful to be a part of it. We have an opportunity to change a whole culture from doing what's right in their own eyes to having King Jesus in their lives transforming their whole way of living!
Five years ago, when we started IBISR, in 2008, we didn’t know that from that first class we would have Christian marriages and families formed, breaking away from the Buddhist cycle of family traditions. We didn’t know that we would have strong faithful leaders to lead and start churches in the villages of Leang Dai and Takam. We didn’t know that we would have loving and compassionate Christians sacrificing and caring for orphans as their own children at Hannah's Hope. We didn’t know that we would send out missionaries of our own to remote places in Cambodia to minister to the poor people who lives on the water in their boats on Tonle Sap, offering clean and safe drinkable water. We didn’t know if people would respond to the gospel genuinely and not for money's sake or make a 'business' out of the gospel as many have in this country. But to this present time, these things have happened to the glory of God! We look forward to seeing much more bountiful fruits being produced in the name of Jesus and we pray that you continue to think of us as you speak to our heavenly Father in prayer. We, like always, will do the same for you on your end.
Brother Vannak (Puen's husband, and one of our 1st year students) and Darat (faculty of IBISR) work part time along with studying and teaching God's word. With this type of mentality and their example, the local church will be autonomous in the very near future. It's one of our many goals that we've set for the local church. We have already started to move in that direction when the local leaders of the church in Siem Reap decided to help fund/support IBISR $100 per month for the rice for our students. If we are able to increase this amount every year, we will hit our goal of being autonomous within 20 years as outlined in our 20 year plan. I am excited to tell you that they came to his decision on their own (as I try not to be in their leader’s meetings so they can make decisions without my influence). I am so happy to see that we share a common goal for the future of the church here in Cambodia. It has been a difficult task to get them to see the vision but it's finally coming together and this just shows how God is working with us and increasing their spiritual maturity!
To see Phanat’s report with pictures, please click here.