Greetings to all of my faithful supporters who give to the cause of Christ in Cambodia. I am excited to bring you the latest news from the beautiful souls in southern Asia. In this report I would like to look back at where we started, where we are and where we are now going. It is exciting to realize much has been accomplished that might otherwise go unnoticed. Our journey together has already seen dividends in souls being added to the Lord’s church. It has also provided us with new perspectives and directions for the future.
Perspective Timeline ‘09
• IBISR Extension School Established
• Director Appointed - Phanat Ouch
• Building Purchased to supply place of worship, school & housing for male students
• First Class of students begins
• Siem Reap Church of Christ begins worship at this location
• First trip to Cambodia for myself
• 15 Souls added to the church in Siem Reap
• Students enrolled: 8 men, 4 women
• Second Trip to Cambodia
• Congregation in Takam Village established
• 45 Souls added to the church in Takam
• First graduating class
• Over 75 attend
• Graduates assist in teaching next class
• 11 new students enroll
• Preachers sent out to 4 new villages
• Personal support trips made
• Phanat travels to the U.S. to meet with BV Elders, BVBID and preach
• Taught first full 2 week short course
• Taking classes at BVBID to educate myself more to teach in Cambodia
• First trip as coordinator along with 6 others to teach.
• Second Graduating Class
• Over 100 Attend
• 4 full time teachers on staff
• 11 New Students enroll
• 2nd and 3rd trips as Coordinator
Phase 1 Complete
Phanat Ouch, the director of IBISR has completed what he calls the Foundation Period. In those 5 years we have seen a Bible school established in a land where the Lord’s church didn’t even exist before 2007. We have graduated 2 full classes of students and are in the middle of our third class of 12 students. We have sown the seed and given God the glory as over 150 souls have been saved and are a part of the Lords church.
I have now been the full time coordinator for over 2 years and am just now catching my breath it seems. I have made 6 trips to Cambodia and hopefully will be going twice this year. I have tried to establish a good relationship between the new young Christians in Cambodia and the Christians, Elders, churches and members that support the work. Since leaving the secular world in 2011 I have experienced much more fulfillment and realize what faith in the Lord will provide. For that support I say thanks to each and every one of you who have trusted in my small part in the saving of souls and training of young men to teach and preach in Cambodia.
The teaching staff at IBISR is at a very solid 3 full-time men and 1 part time man. This does not include the short course teacher we arrange to teach on a regular basis from all over the world. The expanded staff includes a full time cook and a part time secretary.
There is now a sound body of about 50 Christians in the village of Leang Dai, a similar sized congregation in Takam village and our growing and stalwart congregation of about 55 in Siem Reap. In all of these places we have students and staff preaching and teaching. We also have established graduate workers in to smaller villages with ongoing studies.
Enter Phase 2 - The Growth Period
At this point I am just now feeling like I’m beginning to understand what I am trying to help accomplish. There are many pieces to this cause and I am doing my best to adjust, help and keep it moving in a forward fashion. Keeping the school running smoothly is a great challenge in which I always want to be a part.
The staff at IBISR and myself believe at this point that we should move on from a 2 year program to a 3 year program. Some of the reasoning includes a deeper root system of Bible knowledge and wisdom before going back into a Buddhist saturated land. It also helps establish a richer Christian brother and sisterhood among the Christians while being persecuted by their families and previous friendships. Satan pulls very hard at them with other denominational short term rewards. We want to do our due diligence in protecting while teaching and preparing them for the time when they will be sent out.
We are very excited about a new mentoring program that has been established. With 8 students and 4 staff members, each team consists of 2 students and one mentor and will all go out and evangelize, learn in the field, and mentor on a daily basis for a quarter, then rotate so they all get a different angle of education.
Another item of success is that of the work program which allows the student to pay for much of his own way after he has completed their first year of study with good grades. Because of this we are seeing quite a difference in the maturity of our students in their view of responsibility and maturity by giving them opportunities to lead.
So many other ideas we hope to implement in the near future. I will keep you posted as we all move forward.
From a Personal Perspective
The Lord has blessed me and the work in Cambodia immensely. I can only dream so big and then the Lord shows me bigger. At this point in my very short “career path” I cannot imagine
doing anything else. I could not have imagined taking classes at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver and studying the word as part of my occupation! I never imagined teaching classes to so many eager, young Cambodians and doing it with a language barrier. Love indeed can be communicated in many ways. The example of Christ holds us to a higher standard. I must give credit where credit is due and that is to the people who first believed in me to be successful. Obviously I give credit to God, who heard my prayers while making a comfortable living to doing something that truly matters. His timing was spot on and I had a willing heart, not totally unafraid, but willing. My wife Teri was the first to support me with the encouragement to run with this self- employed business, even though I had never done anything like it before. We have 3 dependent children and I know her faith was huge and she never waivered. My children who encouraged me to work for the Lord instead of man. I thank Bob Turner, the director of the Extension program who thought I could handle this position, even though this was a new and unique place for us to be. And to thank the Cambodians for allowing me to work with them seems like a “no-brainer”. I know I make mistakes along the way, but I also am as transparent as I can be so they know that my heart and interest are with their souls. I love them dearly. Lastly, I want to thank my loyal supporters. Obviously the Holy Spirit has spent much time asking for our hearts to serve God. Each of you has done that and much more by sending money to the cause in Cambodia. I am grateful beyond words and hope that the partnerships that we have will continue on for many fruitful years.
Siem Reap is truly my home away from home and every time I arrive it is with a youthful exuberance (even though I’m about to turn 52). When I leave it is as one who leaves a younger brother or sister and has had their cup filled to the brim with a thirst for Christ and a knowledge for the Word of God. I get emotional just typing this because my heart has been moved in a direction I never, ever, would have thought. My prayers are filled with petition to the Lord for the protection from evil as they go from milk to meat and from foolishness to wisdom. I realize that I fall short of bringing any remote idea of what the church in Cambodia is like and what it goes through on a daily basis. However, I will continue to strive to bring a connection that will span the globe, culture, language and history to achieve a better One Church for our God. The brothers and sisters in Cambodia only know you through people like me and I do my best to let them know how precious they are to you and vice versa. If anyone has questions or comments regarding the work I welcome them. As some of you know I call from time to time just to chat and touch base. However, I do not have that relationship with all of my supporters and I would like to very much. Please call me on my cell phone at 720-626-2077 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Peace in Christ,
Wes Autrey Cambodia Coordinator
To see Wes’ report with pictures and the timeline, please click here.