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 (pictured 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.