April update

Our family has lived in Cambodia for almost thirteen years, and we’re now on our way back to the U.S. for our third furlough. The first two times, I began preparing weeks in advance, knowing I needed to report to you, our partners, on the work that had been accomplished during the preceding term.

Sitting down to prepare those reports/sermons felt like an exercise in imagination (or faith, maybe?). Let’s see … how to stretch our meagre list of accomplishments into a 45-minute presentation?? But you persevered; you kept encouraging us, and most importantly, you kept praying. Now, as I steal a few minutes en route to jot down some thoughts about the last four years, I’m faced with a new, completely opposite, problem—which miracles do I leave out? What gains on your investments do I not report to you? Do I give a 10,000-foot overview of the entire term, or do I dive deep into one or two of the best stories? And which ones?! Then there’s the need for more, specific prayer going forward ….

So, ironically, we need prayer now—that we would steward our upcoming times with you well, that these times would be productive for work of the gospel in Cambodia moving forward.

Speaking of our time in the U.S… In the past, we’ve alternated our Cambodia-U.S. time on a 4-to-1 year schedule (more-or-less). But a couple years ago, our kids began fleeing the nest, and there are more standing in line. This time, we’ll deposit our third, Gloria, to join Abi and Isa for her freshman year of college. Our balance of power is shifting. In light of that, we’re transitioning to a slightly different furlough schedule—shorter terms/shorter furloughs. So this time around, we’re hoping to squeeze all of our usual travels into half the time! Again, we appreciate your prayers as we seek to move quickly and effectively for the sake of the gospel.

Hope to see you soon …

Gloria’s graduation
Gloria’s graduation

Winter update

We are in the midst of the most visibly fruitful season of our 12+ years in Cambodia. We have much to share, much to praise God for, and much to pray about.

1. The Church in Na Ong

The new-born church in Na Ong now boasts a membership of ten! Six of these are husband-wife pairs, itself an answer to many years of prayer.

Perhaps no individual has been prayed for more than Sali (our first contact in Na Ong in 2018), who formerly refused Christ’s call to believe and be baptized because of what it would cost him as a highly respected master-of-(pagan)-ceremonies in the village. Last month, Sali (pictured below) bowed to Christ as his Lord!

Most recently, Lin followed her husband Kham-Pai into the faith. What joy to hear this dear lady enthusiastically proclaim her new commitment to Christ. When asked to affirm her faith, she (somewhat indignantly) retorted, “Of course I believe! If I weren’t committed to this, would I abandon my buffaloes, abandon my cows, abandon my ducks and chickens, abandon my family’s livelihood every week to attend our meetings?!” [free translation]. As a bonus, Lin was baptized while I was away this Sunday (see below). Vanda and Pro-in (picture above with Sali) are faithfully and capably stepping up to nurture this people in their faith. (They need your prayers too!)

L-R: Lin and Kham-Pai, Leh, Sali, Jeremy, and Pan

The answers to prayer in Na Ong are too many to put in a single update (but I hope we can share more in person later this year), and so are the prayer requests. These infant Christians rely heavily—far more than they realize—upon our prayers for their preservation. For now, let these words of missionary James Fraser guide your praying:

This case [of conversion] has been noised abroad throughout the district and has made a favourable impression. The only thing many of the people are waiting for is to know whether it is really safe to throw the evil spirits overboard and turn to Christ. It is important to pray for those who have already turned Christian, that their faith and constancy may be equal to all tests and that the Spirit’s power for the healing of sickness may be with them. For a man to turn Christian and then be smitten down with sickness, at once discredits the Gospel in the eyes of the Lisu.

2. The Stung Treng Bible school

The Bible school in Stung Treng (Khmer language) just celebrated its first birthday. For over a year now, sixty students from around the province have gathered faithfully for the first Saturday of the month to study God’s Word together. This means we are halfway through our two-year course consisting of Biblical Theology, Hermeneutics (or literacy for those who can’t yet read), and Systematic Theology. Again, the answers to prayer are too numerous to list here—wisdom, strength, and a remarkable spirit of unity among the three teachers from three different mission boards; a clear hunger to know and follow God’s Word among our students, financial provision, etc. etc.

And the needs are still great. Please pray …

For us teachers: that the lessons and resources we develop each month would be both faithful to Scripture and well-suited to the needs of our students.

For our students: that they would fall in love with the Bible, that they would become deeply committed to Scripture as their ultimate guide and source of authority and sustenance, and that they would grow in their ability to read and understand it for themselves.

3. Home

We are quickly nearing the end of this term of four+ years. That means we’re busy setting our house in order, literally and metaphorically. On the home front, we’re pressing to complete the school year by early April. Gloria will graduate from high school, so she is busy fulfilling many “lasts” before beginning university next fall.

Both in Na Ong and the Bible school, I have many unfinished tasks that seem necessary if these ministries are to thrive during the months we’re away. Pray that I will have both strength to complete what is truly necessary and wisdom to forgo things that can wait.

4. A little piece of church history

On Sunday, we drove 2.5 hours east to Ratanakiri province where we joined the Krung church as they celebrated the completion of the New Testament in their own language. What joy to worship with hundreds of Christians—Krung, Khmer, and a host of other ethnicities—on this historic day. Our friend and teammate Brian Kane played an invaluable role in bringing this difficult work to completion.

5. A book recommendation

I recently read Mountain Rain, the life of James Fraser (quoted above). Fraser was the first to carry the gospel to the Lisu tribe of southwest China in the early twentieth century.  

I first read this book in 2001, a gift from some missionary friends, and thoroughly enjoyed it. But like so many other missions books (whether biographical or methodological), it seems one hundred times more relevant after our twelve years in Cambodia. By far the biggest takeaway for me (and here is why you should read it, even if you’re not living in a cross-cultural context) is Fraser’s emphasis on prayer—not just the prayers of the missionary, but the prayers of his support team back home. As I read about Fraser’s prayer circle, I frequently paused to thank God for you—many by name—who have labored joyfully and at times fruitlessly with us in the work. All the fruit we’re harvesting now is yours, and we have much reason to believe there is more fruit to come. So read this book, and pray on!

From my highlights:

(To his mother:) I know you will never fail me in the matter of intercession, but would you think and pray about getting a group of like-minded friends, whether few or many, whether in one place or scattered, to join in the same petitions? If you could form a small prayer circle I would write regularly to the members.

I am persuaded that the homeland is rich in godly, quiet, praying people, in every denomination. They may not be a great multitude as far as numbers are concerned, but they are “rich in faith,” even if many of them be poor and of humble station. It is the prayers of such that I covet more than gold of Ophir—those good old men and good old women (and yes, not necessarily old either) who know what it is to have power with God and prevail. Will you help me, prayerfully and judiciously, to get some of these to join the circle? The work for which I am asking prayer is preaching and teaching the Word of God, pure and simple. I have no confidence in anything but the gospel of Calvary to uplift these needy people.

I cannot insist too strongly on my own helplessness among these people apart from the grace of God. Although I have been now ten years in China and have had considerable experience with both Chinese and Lisu, I find myself able to do little or nothing apart from God’s going before me and working among men. Without this I feel like a man who has his boat grounded in shallow water. Pull or push as he may, he will not be able to make his boat move more than a few inches. But let the tide come in and lift his boat off the bottom—then he will be able to move it as far as he pleases, quite easily and without friction. It is indeed necessary for me to go around among our Lisu, preaching, teaching, exhorting, rebuking, but the amount of progress made thereby depends almost entirely on the state of the Spiritual Tide in the village—a condition which you can control upon your knees as well as I.

I really believe that if every particle of prayer put up by the home churches on behalf of the infant churches of the mission field were removed, the latter would be swamped by an incoming flood of the powers of darkness…. Just as a plant may die for lack of watering, so may a genuine work of God die and rot for lack of prayer.

The Church in Na Ong Village

On Sunday, November 5, Von, and Tun, their son Lon, Vong, Hien, and Reuen were joined in faith to the body of Christ.

Christ has established his Church
among the Lao of Stung Treng,
His mighty scepter extends from Zion,
He rules in the midst of his enemies!

Rejoice and give thanks for this answer
to over a decade of prayer and labor!

Vong, Von, Hien, Lon, Tun, and Reuen
New Bibles for new Christians
Going down to the river to pray
Sticky rice and koi!

Please keep praying …

And please continue praying: Among our regular attenders, Sali understands the gospel and its implications as well as anyone. He also stands to lose the most in terms of earthly goods and honor. Pray that he will cast himself fully on Christ.


And pray for Leh. If Sali understands but hesitates to commit, Leh affirms his readiness, but lacks some fundamental knowledge of Christ’s person and work.

Leh and Hien

Just hours before the baptism, Noy withdrew herself. We’re thankful her husband Vong continued on without her. But please pray for Noy. We believe she is feeling pressure from her mother.

Noy and Vong

Sister churches together

And finally, one of those names, Reuen, is actually Khmer, not Lao. Reuen’s baptism with the Na Ong church is a happy uniting of two strands of our ministry. Many of you will remember the story of the seedling church in Pum Tmai village. It’s a Khmer-speaking church of five elderly ladies where I have filled something of a pastoral role for five years, all the while praying and seeking for a Cambodian brother who can take on this work and devote himself to it more fully than I can. Every week in Pum Tmai, we pray for the gospel advance among the Lao in Na Ong. So what a joy for these Christians to join with their younger brothers and sisters in this way. What a joy for the folks of Na Ong to witness the Khmer church following Christ just as they are. (Clarification, most of our members in Pum Tmai can understand Lao.)


Sounds from Na Ong

A few sounds from Na Ong to add to your playlist:

Come to Christ

Love the Lord your God …

Come and drink

New birth in Na Ong

For over two years, we’ve been teaching systematically through the key stories of the Bible in Na Ong village, laboring to build completely new categories of thought for these dear friends. Attendance and attentiveness have ebbed and flowed during this time, but this core group (pictured above) has become faithful, joyful attenders. They’ve learned how to sit more-or-less quietly through the lessons (most of our folks have never been to school). They eagerly express their assent to the foundational concepts of the Faith. They enjoy singing the Scripture songs we’ve taught them. They’re even learning to pray via the Lord’s Prayer. These are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.

A critical stage

We are in a critical stage now. The church of Na Ong is in the birth canal, as it were, and we need your prayers. Specifically, our folks are facing Christ’s call to repent and the demand that he makes upon their lives. So for the past two Sundays, we’ve considered Luke’s juxtaposed stories of two rich men—the young ruler (Luke 18) and Zaccheaus (Luke 19). Ironically, none of our attenders can be accused of being rich, but they are certainly beset with equally powerful allegiances and affections that will prevent their entrance into the Kingdom. Here are four illustrations of the issues our friends are dealing with:

One of our most faithful and understanding listeners, Sali, is a highly-respected​​ “master of ceremonies” at nearly all weddings and funerals in the village. This entails leading the guests in various pagan and Buddhist rituals. Sali knows that this places him at odds with what he has learned and affirmed from the Bible. On the other hand, his services are financially profitable for him (not to mention the honor given to such functionaries).

Von is owner of a small book by which he knows the “good days” and “bad days” for various activities. People seek Von out for direction regarding all of life’s important undertakings—what day to plant, harvest, begin a building project, marry, have a funeral, etc. If you’re thinking “that just sounds like a horoscope,” you’re right, but our friends here really believe them and thus order their lives accordingly. Besides the personal assurance that this horoscope gives Von, it is also financially profitable for him.

Many of our group still wear “spirit strings” around their wrists and necks. These red or white yarn bracelets are talismans that protect people from evil spirits who might steal one of their souls, afflict them with sicknesses, or cause accidents to them and their families. To cut your spirit string is a bold act by which you throw yourself fully on Christ as your only Protector and Provider. Similarly, to remove the god shelf from your home exposes you to a host of dangers and cuts you off from potential blessings.

And coming in last, but certainly not least, it is difficult to find a man in our village, including in our group, who is not frequently drunk.

I share this “vice list” with you, first, as a window into Cambodian culture (both Khmer and Lao), but most importantly, that you may pray specifically.

[On a side note … do you find it difficult to believe that someone would really choose to hold on to any of these sins rather than receive eternal life? As a Westerner, I do. But how foolish must our own Western sins (perhaps a lot closer in appearance to the two rich men in Luke 18-19) appear before a holy God!]

Meet your newest brother and sister in Christ!

Finally, a story to elicit your praise and inspire you to more urgent prayer …

Vong and his wife Noy, with two of their children

The lesson last Sunday seemed to me to be the most important one I had ever taught in Na Ong—the young ruler who came seeking eternal life but went away sad because he refused to follow Christ. In it, I carefully addressed the various sins mentioned above, making the most specific application I had ever dared. Afterward, we praised God for a good delivery and reception. Our only disappointment was the absence of one key family, Vong and Noy, along with their three children.

That evening, Vong came over to Proin’s house (Proin and his wife are our local partners in Na Ong) and declared, unprompted, that he wanted to follow Christ completely, throwing out his religious paraphernalia. Proin, suspecting that Vong was drunk, told him to come back in the morning! We are now calling Proin “Eli”! (In Proin’s defense, such a sudden announcement from a man and woman who had been absent from that day’s lesson and who have been painfully reticent in their communication with us, did seem to come from nowhere. And we need not mention the frequent drunkenness again.)

The next morning, Vong and his wife Noy, unabashed, returned to affirm their determination to follow Christ!

The power of the Word. The power of the Holy Spirit to apply that Word, even when they missed my most eloquent lesson! So, brothers and sisters, praise God that he is begetting new brothers and sisters for you. And pray earnestly for these dear folks and others like them. The Evil One would hold them fast, and his cords are strong. Pray that these people would not go away sad in their unbelief (Luke 18), but like Zaccheus, would joyfully come down to receive Christ.

A Na Ong “church directory”

I usually try not to bombard you with strange names that you can’t pronounce or remember, but perhaps God will impress you to pray for some of these folks specifically, if not by name, at least by face:

Von and his wife Tun with their family

Von and his wife Tun host our Sunday meetings. They both strongly affirm their faith in Christ alone. Pray that nothing will hinder them from following through. Their son Lon (13 years old, far right) is perhaps the best listener in our entire group.


Sali was our first contact in Na Ong five years ago. He faithfully rides his bike in to our meetings every week. Pray that he will find Christ more valuable than the honor and wealth of the world. Pray also for his wife who has heard the gospel but does not attend our meetings.


Pai has faithfully attended our meetings from the beginning. Pray that she will understand the gospel and that she will have the courage to follow Christ in the face of much misunderstanding on the part of her children and grandchildren.

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Seum and her son Sit.

Seum’s husband Pan was our most diligent and understanding listener. Two months ago, he was forced to return to Laos due to a conflict with neighbors. Pray that he might find the gospel in his new location and that he may eventually return to us. Pray that Seum will understand the gospel and embrace Christ. Sit is a good listener. Pray for his conversion.

Vi and her sons

Vi and her three little boys have been attending faithfully for about three months. Pray that she will understand and that her husband will come also.

Leh and Hien with their children

Leh and his wife Hien have been attending faithfully with their five children for about three months. Pray for understanding and for the courage to follow Christ wholly.

Our weekly game of Pack-a-Hyundai: we just set a new record of 31 people in our 10-seater!

Summer news

Greetings, brother and sisters. This summer has been as full of joy and labor as any on our record. Please rejoice and pray with us …

Lao village of Na Ong

Our core group continues to meet faithfully every Sunday (even gathering on their own initiative when we cannot be there!) Please pray …

… for our upcoming first baptism. Pray for all candidates to understand clearly what they are doing as they publicly join themselves to the body of Christ.

… for Proin and Si-ma, Cambodian missionaries partnering with us in Na Ong. Pray for their own spiritual sustenance, and for their increasing proficiency in the local language. Our goal is that Proin and Si-ma would be able to read/write Lao well enough to prepare and teach their own lessons before we leave for home assignment in April, 2024.

The Stung Treng Bible school

The Stung Treng Bible school is over one-third  of the way through its inaugural two-year cycle. Attendance continues to hold steady around 55 and participation is excellent. Please pray …

… that our students would continue to deepen their commitment to the Bible as their ultimate source of authority and guide for life, that they would grow in their habits of personal Bible reading, and that they would increase in their ability to teach and preach the Bible in their local churches.

… that the teachers (myself and two fellow missionaries) would find the time and focus to complete the curriculum for this initial cycle. Pray specifically that I would be able to complete a reader’s guide to the Bible that I have been working on for some time.

Bible reading group

My weekly Bible reading group continues to be one of my most fruitful and delightful opportunities for discipleship. Our group of three brothers and one sister meets for one hour to read a single passage of Scripture (usually one chapter) 6-8 times, briefly discuss it, and pray through it. The hour of Bible reading frequently leads to much longer discussions of Christian life and ministry. Pray for that we would continue to grow in the skill of Bible reading and that God would use these folks to foster a culture of Bible reading within the church here.

The church in Pum Tmai

I haven’t reported on this church of six older ladies and myself in quite some time, but we continue to meet faithfully each week. Pray for growth and perseverance in the faith and that God would raise up a Cambodian who can give more time to discipling these ladies and evangelizing the three villages represented among them.

The neighborhood

After a long hiatus due to work and family matters, the youth in our neighborhood have begun trickling back in over the past several months. Most evenings there will be 3-7 young people playing volleyball (or wiffle ball when I’m in charge!) with our own kids. Please pray as we continue sharing the gospel with them. The past couple weeks, Bu-i (22 year-old young man) and his sister So-khaa (14 yrs old) attended church with us. Please pray for their conversion. Specifically, pray that the local church would be diligent in welcoming these outsiders, and that Bu-i and So-khaa would find them to be true brothers and sisters.


For six weeks this summer, our entire family was reunited as Abi and Isa returned home after their first year in university. These were some of the happiest times of our lives. Abi and Isa are flourishing in their faith and work as students, which makes sending them off again a bit easier on their parents.

Through the years, God has given us a team of pray-ers who, in faith (and perhaps some pity?), call out not only for the peoples of Cambodia whom we serve, but also for the little peoples who inhabit the four walls of our home. First, thank you for laboring with us in this way. Second, please take heart that your prayers are being heard. And finally, please keep praying: there’s a lot of work yet to do in our home.

Our younger kids began the new school year last month. Please pray for Bonnie Ruth and Brooke as they teach. And pray for our children, that as they study God’s words and world, they would come to love and fear him.

Culture notes

[Not required reading, just a small window into our Cambodian world]

unexploded cluster bomb submunition (“bombie”) found in Vanda’s rice paddy

Earlier this summer, my language helper, Vanda, told me that his father had accidentally unearthed an unexploded cluster bomb while digging fence post holes at his farm. This led to a fascinating hour of bomb and land-mine stories that make all my childhood war games seem like … well, games. In the month that followed, bombs became my new topic for conversation with folks about town. Here’s a sampling of stories I gleaned …

  • Vanda and his brother once dismantled the wings of a downed Vietnamese fighter jet that they then sold for recycling.
  • On two different occasions, Chey slammed his hoe into an unexploded ordnance (UXO) that, in God’s kindness, continued unexploded.
  • Vanda’s grandmother used a 6-foot long bombshell as a vegetable planter. Proin’s grandmother once used a smaller UXO as the third “leg” for her clay cooking pot; upon heating up, the UXO became an XO, thankfully missing everyone nearby.
  • Proin and his friends once found a 6-foot long UXO that they managed to wedge underneath a huge tree, pile brushwood on top, light it, and run for their lives (successfully, as it turned out)!
  • The above stories all had happy (or at least, in hindsight, humorous) endings. But quite a few others were less fortunate. In short, it seems that nearly everyone here has a bomb story of some sort, as well as a python/cobra story, but I’ll save that for a later update …

Hot season news

Stung Treng Bible school

On April 1, the Stung Treng Bible school completed its fourth one-day session, with more than fifty students in attendance. For me, the most exciting part is that about 80% of them are completing the Bible reading/listening assignments each month. The assignment consists simply of reading approximately ten chapters of the Bible twice (an average of just five chapters per week). But for many of our students, this is no mean accomplishment when you consider Cambodia’s recent history and the challenges facing the education system here. To find someone who is a reader (of any kind of material) is rare, and new Christians naturally bring these habits (or lack thereof) into the church. Add the now-omnipresent magic screen to the mix, and the challenge is formidable. So we spend a fair amount of our energy exhorting and encouraging our students to put down their phones, pick up their Bibles, and just read (or listen, as a number of our students are not yet literate).

Please pray for these brother and sisters.

  • Pray for strength to persevere in forming this fundamental habit.
  • Pray that they would see much fruit for their labors of reading.
  • Pray that our sessions together in which we teach through the assigned passages would itself be a satisfying reward for their labor.

Ratanakiri Pastors Institute

Next week (April 9-12), I will travel two hours east to join my Ratanakiri teammates in teaching Romans 9-11 to seventy church leaders from around the province. Pray for these students also, as they have been fulfilling their own reading requirements (through a very difficult passage of Scripture, at that). Pray that the Lord would meet with both students and teachers, and that these truths regarding the ways and means of God would do for us all, just what they did for Paul, namely, rouse us to reverent worship of our God. Finally, pray for stamina for everyone. Hot season is upon us, so we are slogging our way through some sultry afternoons.

Genuine faith in Na Ong village

Last week, at the urging of a teammate, I finally began reading Methods of Mission Work, by John Nevius, who served in nineteenth-century China for over thirty years. Writing on the consequences of foreign funds in missions, Nevius says,

The general opinion of the Chinese concerning the motive of one of his countrymen who is preaching a “foreign religion,” is that it is a mercenary motive. When he learns that the national preacher is in fact paid by foreigners, he is confirmed in his judgment. What the motive is which compels the FOREIGN MISSIONARY, (a motive so strong that he is willing to waste life and money in what seems a fruitless enterprise) the Chinese is left to imagine. The most common explanation … is that it is a covert scheme for buying adherents with a view to political movements opposed to the state. Of course it is assumed that no loyal national would have anything to do with such a movement. If the Chinese is told that this enterprise is prompted by disinterested motives, and intended for the good of his people, he is incredulous. Simple professions and protestations have little weight with him, in comparison with his own interpretation of facts. Observing that in some of our stations only those who are employed and paid, remain firm in their adherence to the foreigner, while not a few of the others fall back, his opinion is still further confirmed.

The day after reading this, I learned, unsolicited, of the following conversation between Von, the man who hosts our weekly evangelistic meetings at his home, and a Buddhist (we’ll call him Don) he met in a nearby village:

Von: I believe in the God of the Bible.

Don: (interestedly): Oh. So what do you get for believing?

Von: We don’t get anything.

Don: (incredulously): I’ve known other people who believed too. One of them got rice; one got money; another got a job. So, what do you get? What do they give you at your meetings?

Von: (contentedly): Just the Bible. That’s our only reason for meeting each week.

Von and his wife, Tun

After three years together, our small group (6-10 adults plus lots of kids) has come to realize (happily so) that all we really have to offer them is the Bible. My heart is overflowing with joy. Pray that God would give us more like Von, and pray for the many like Don, that they would think seriously on Von’s simple testimony: “all we get is the Bible.”

While I’m making book recommendations …

In March, Bonnie Ruth and I celebrated our twentieth anniversary with three nights in a small hotel in the next province south. Together we read By Searching, the spiritual autobiography of Isobel Kuhn. Three weighty takeaways for us:

1. This book is for young people, particularly college students. It chronicles events beginning in the 1920’s, but it often has the relevance you’d expect from an contemporary apologetics blog helping students maintain their faith in a hostile university environment.

2. This book is for parents, particularly parents whose children are fighting to keep—or in Kuhn’s case, losing—their faith. Basically, Isobel Kuhn had a praying father, who also enlisted all his friends to pray for and encourage her. And God answered.

3. This book is for Christians who want encouragement and guidance in their personal disciplines of Bible reading and prayer.

Tolle lege

Stung Treng Bible school begins + Na Ong update

The Stung Treng Bible school is off to a wonderful beginning, with the January and February sessions now behind us. My colleagues and I forecasted an initial burst of students—around 30—that would eventually taper off to a steady 15 who would be with us through the entire two-year program. So we were somewhat surprised by the 50 who showed up in January, then 60 for the February session! So whenever this tapering begins, we have a nice cushion to work with!

More importantly, the initial feedback from our students has been positive, and it seems that our efforts are meeting a strongly felt need here. That high turnout also reflects something of an ad hoc adjustment of our goals for the program. Our original ideal was a program to equip pastors to better serve their churches. But given the fine line between clergy and laity—in not a few cases, a village church consists of an extended family in which the de facto pastor is whoever came to Christ last year, rather than last week—as well as the currently unmet need for those “lay” Christians to know the Bible, we’ve opened the program for anyone who is committed to putting in the work.

Thus far, we’ve overviewed the entire Bible via the lives of six key characters (can you guess which ones?), introduced basic Bible study (including how to use a dictionary and recognize a command sentence), and introduced the first six questions of the New City Catechism.

A particular joy for me has been to have Gloria and Eden join us as students. In the afternoon sessions, Gloria has also been teaching literacy to our students who cannot yet read.

Thank you for your prayers. Please continue. For the students: pray that they will be faithful in developing daily habits of Bible reading and prayer; pray that they will understand our lessons. For us as teachers: pray for strength and time to be prepared each month, and for wisdom to present the material in a way that is accessible for our students. Ultimately, pray for churches that are grounded firmly and deeply in the Bible as their ultimate source of authority and direction and as their daily sustenance.

Update on Na Ong

The church plant in Na Ong continues. Here are some ways to pray:

  • Pray for Proin and Si-ma, our missionary partners in Na Ong. Pray for their spiritual sustenance. Apart from my weekly visits with them, opportunities for Christian fellowship and spiritual nourishment are rare. We’re thrilled that they are studying in the Bible school. Pray for their continued language acquisition. Pray for their children Hadassah and Barnabas.
  • Pray for those who listen faithfully, that the Word would bear fruit leading to eternal life.
  • Pray that others in this village will hear, both through us and through the mouths of those who are attending regularly.
  • Pray for more laborers. Specifically pray that God will stir the hearts of the few Lao-speaking Christians we know to give themselves to the task of reaching the Lao with the gospel.

A Bible study program for church leaders in Stung Treng Province!

One of our primary goals in moving to Stung Treng in 2016 was to teach the Bible to church leaders in this province. For the past year and half, I’ve been working closely with two fellow missionaries to develop a program suitable for our Cambodian audience. This Saturday, January 7 is the inaugural session. Over the next two years, our goal is to meet once each month to (1) summarize the entire Bible, (2) introduce basic theology, and (3) introduce basic Bible reading and study skills.

This program is an answer to many years of prayer and labor. So join us in praising God for what he is doing. Second, please continue praying with us. For me and my fellow teachers, pray that we would communicate clearly to our students. For our students, pray that they will grow in their love for God and his word, in their commitment to Scripture as their guide for faith and practice, and in their ability to minister the word in the churches that they serve.

Equipping Cambodian church leaders

Our mission in NE Cambodia is two-fold: (1) to plant churches among the unreached Lao population, and (2) to provide theological education for Cambodian church leaders (of various language groups). My time is split, often unevenly, between these two major tasks. In this brief update, I want to share four prayer requests related to that second major task of our mission.

Bible reading group

First, some months ago, I asked you to pray for a weekly Bible reading group for church leaders at our house. Our main goal is simply to model and inculcate a love for Scripture in the minds and hearts of these brothers and sisters. In answer to our prayers, this goal is becoming a glorious reality. O the joy of hearing spontaneous, unrehearsed testimonies of the fruit that regular, repeated readings of entire chapters and books of the Bible is bearing in their own lives and among those whom they serve! Our group has been meeting since January and has already spawned another reading group lead by two of the brothers pictured here. Praise God and pray for continued fruit.

Stung Treng pastors school

Second, you’ve also been praying for me and several fellow missionaries as we create a theology study program for these and other church leaders in Stung Treng Province. Praise God for the remarkable unity and clear sense of direction he is giving us. Our goal is to begin in January, 2023, meeting every month for two years in order to survey the entire Bible, basic theology, and basic Bible study. Please pray for continued blessing.

Bible overview

We have also prayed that I could complete a Bible overview for these students by year’s end. Due to many unexpected opportunities for teaching and evangelism, this goal appears increasingly unlikely. However, please continue to pray for time and strength to complete it in God’s timing.

Ratanakiri Pastors Institute

In two days (Nov. 6-9), I’ll travel two hours east to help teach Romans 6-8 in the cool season session of the Ratanakiri Pastors Institute. Several brothers from Stung Treng will accompany me. Please pray for us all—both teachers and students. Can you think of any other passage of Scripture more glorious than these three chapters?! Pray that we all would grow in our understanding and full embrace of these realities, and that this growth would bear fruit in the churches of NE Cambodia (both Ratanakiri and Stung Treng).

Summer news

Can God spread a table in the wilderness!?”

Thus asked faithless Israel after their deliverance from Egypt (Psalm 78:12-20). Thus also has faithless Jeremy asked (worded a bit more piously, mind you), wondering if or how God could provide for an alien family living in a remote corner of Cambodia. But the answer for both Jeremy and Israel has been a resounding Yes! For every need, his provisions have been abundant, but one particular sphere is much on our minds right now. In this Cambodian context, we’ve wondered, how can eight American children receive the academic, social, and spiritual nurture necessary to equip them to thrive as Christians in this world? But for the past eleven years, God has continually supplied us with resources—material and human—to make this a reality. In June, our two oldest, Abi and Isa, officially graduated from high school in a ceremony to honor their accomplishment. The guest list was itself a testimony to God’s provision: dear friends, old and young, literally from around the world (including my forever young parents), who have prayed, encouraged, and nurtured our children along the way, gathered for a time celebration and thanksgiving.

Many of you, though not with us in person, have faithfully prayed for our children. We owe you a debt of deepest gratitude. Now, please join us in praising God for the feast he has furnished thus far (Psalm 78:5).

Abi and Isa began their freshman year at Bob Jones University this week. And in two weeks, their younger siblings will begin a new school year here in Cambodia. We covet your continued prayers.

Class of ’22

The wilderness of Na Ong

Now that I think of it, Israel’s question (Psalm 78:19) is particularly appropriate for nearly any pioneer endeavor. And praise God: in Na Ong village, God is dividing the sea, splitting the rock, turning the desert into a garden …. For the past year and half, our core group of about eight adults and ten children have been working slowly through foundational Old Testament stories. Again and again, we’ve seen Israel’s need (as well as our own) for redemption, and we’ve also heard repeated promises of a coming King who will indeed deliver them, both from their enemies and their sins. Last week, we finally arrived at Matthew’s begats! We’ve been waiting to meet this King for two years! I told them, but Israel had waited over one thousand! A sense of excitement and expectation is evident in several of our seekers.

Again, praise God for what he is doing—your many prayers are bearing fruit. And please pray on. These next few months of preaching and teaching are critical. Pray for saving faith. Pray for baptisms. Pray for our first Lord’s Supper.

Also please continue praying for Proin and Si-ma. They are doing well, but language learning is proving to be a significant hurdle.

Pan (left) is one of our most faithful and interested listeners in Na Ong. Please pray for his salvation.

Pastors school

One final prayer request in this update. I am working to complete the first draft of a biblical overview for our pastor students, both here in Stung Treng and in Ratanakiri. My goal date is the end of this calendar year. Please pray that I can make the time to concentrate on this project, that the Spirit would give me understanding of my material (Psalms and Wisdom books right now), and that my writing would be accessible for our target readers.

Thank you, dear brothers and sisters, for your faithful prayers for us and the peoples we are serving. May the Lord richly bless you.