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.