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