Last February and March I went to Cambodia and taught 11 wonderful young Cambodian Christians in a two week short course about “OT Lessons for NT Christians”. Michael Hite, a teacher at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver went with me and taught a 2 week course on James. At one point while teaching it dawned on me to just ask them when the first time these 17-23 yr. old students had seen a Bible. All except one said “three months or less”! This is the “window of opportunity” I continue to challenge myself and my supporters to understand and take advantage of. The students, 6 boys and 5 girls, did remarkably well on their tests and assignments throughout the 2 week course. Of course this is just a small sampling of the intense 2 year program that we are running in Siem Reap.
Also while over there we conducted the first ever IBISR / Bear Valley Youth joint Devotional. We skyped from half way around the world, sang songs in native language, some with recognizable tunes and some pure local. Young men from both churches gave about a 5-7 minute talk, introductions were made so everyone said there name and the other side of the world repeated it. I know all the kids from both sides of the globe and it was a real thrill and joy to get to know one another through the wonders of electronics.
At the current date the students are now 1 year into the program and all are doing well. They are excited to go to their homes and villages during breaks to help their families farm or work. However they are more excited to share the good news with their Buddhist families and share the past year. It is a remarkable transformation that takes place and most students realize that they would prefer to be with their Christian family and friends while trying to convert their families. It is at this point that many families disown or “blacksheep” their own children for following Christ. We sometimes lose an occasional student during these breaks but they all came back for another year of study, evangelizing and Christian family growth. It is safe to say that their is now a small Christian culture and community in Siem Reap that is changing Cambodia.
One of our biggest challenges is developing leadership, especially among the men. We are very pleased with our young Christian men who are preaching, teaching, holding Bible studies and leading their families to Christ. Chann, Phanat, Piseth, Darat and Sokchea are our main men and continue to be leaders by example. A couple of important notes here: Piseth and Darat have been teaching without support and therefore have taught that faith in God is the most important thing. Other men in Cambodia chase denominations that offer “greener grass” but not the truth. Another important note here is that you are supporting the work of brand new Christian families! Less than 4 years ago there was only one Christian couple in Siem Reap. Now we have 10 Christian couples as a direct result of the school and work. Most, if not all have had a baby or babies and are raising them up in the church. So the church community in Siem Reap continues to be the stronghold in the area. This does not include all of the other villages who are raising their children in the church. I will be able to give more info on Takam after my next trip if the rainy season will allow us to travel that road.
Churches of Christ in Cambodia
We continue to have three strong churches in Siem Reap, Takam Village and Leang Dai Village. None of these churches existed as of 5 years ago. Even though the growth has slowed some from the past 4 years they continue to grow and set themselves apart from Buddhism and denominations by teaching the one and only pure truth of the Bible. All of these churches have been brought about by the works of many, but especially those who have graduated from IBISR. We have graduates teaching and preaching and leading in all three of these congregations.
Recently the young men who lead decided to conduct “Saturday School” in the Siem Reap area as well as some of the outlying villages. This has is a great way to introduce the locals to The Word by having a series of lessons beginning with creation and ending with the steps to salvation. They have printed up thousands of flyers and are passing them out while raising awareness to these studies conducted by the teachers and students. Note: currently the government has discouraged our brothers and sisters from passing these out due to the upcoming elections. However, like any good Christian they persist and glorify God in the process.
There is always more news about the people there and the work, however as I stated before I wish to focus on the school mostly this report and will offer more personal information in the next report.
I love this work. I am continually thanking God for giving me this opportunity to coordinate the work while in Denver but travel to Cambodia to teach, preach and encourage these fine young brothers and sisters in Christ. It is my hope that I will be able to continue and please God as well as my supporters and family in this path.
I will be taking my wife Teri and my daughter Natalie on the next trip in October. They will teach children and ladies classes while I teach adult classes and men in their specialized classes. Most classes last about 3 hours per session for approximately 2 weeks. If you know of anyone who might like to support my “girls” on this trip please have them contact me and I will be glad to let them know what we will be doing.