Of Skirts & Salvation // Stories From Abroad: CAMBODIA ’17 – Part 3

This summer my travels have taken me back to one of my favorite areas of the world, Southeast Asia. I have spent the past 2 ½ weeks as a part of the Global Ventures (GV) Set-Up Team. During this time, I served as one of the key leaders, helping to pave the way for the incoming GV teams. Over the course of my time, I have had the awesome privilege of working with amazing people here in Cambodia from our partner church, New Life Fellowship Cambodia. (You can read all about them here)

I have been able to take part in various areas of set-up, focusing most of my effort in scheduling local schools (along with my friend & GV intern, Bailey Neff) where teams will get to share the Gospel.

(Here are a few of the pictures from our time visiting schools and scheduling times for the GV teams to come and present the Gospel. Special thanks to Bailey Neff for capturing this sweet moment I had connecting with some of the little girls.)

After many days of hard work, the main team has finally arrived in country and we now number 51 people. 51 people who have been trained through GV leadership and are now ready to hit the streets (or in this case, dirt roads) and take the Gospel to the precious people in a village province, roughly a 1-3 hour drive from Phnom Penh.

For Bailey and I, the excitement each of the team members is feeling, is only multiplied. For us the ministry that is about to take place is the culmination of a year’s worth of hard work put in by GV staff, and the last 2 ½ weeks of work we helped with, here in country. Bailey and I have stepped foot in almost all of the schools and villages that the GV teams will share the Gospel in. We have walked where they’ll walk and smiled at the precious adults and children who they will now bring eternal hope to. In a lot of ways, we had the amazing opportunity to walk in shoes that John the Baptist might have worn, preparing the way. We were forerunners declaring that someone else would come after us, with a powerful message that would forever change things.

And the hour is almost here. As team members are turning out their lights to get some much needed rest before the ministry starts, I can’t help but be filled with pure joy and anticipation at what all God is going to do over these next 5 days. My heart can truly only guess at the amazing things He has in store for these people who are quickly stealing my heart.

I have so much to say to all of you and I struggle to find the words to express it all. The truth is, I too, should probably be turning out the lights and saying goodbye for tonight. Before I go though, I want to share one more encounter that Bailey and had just a week ago.

A Badly Designed Skirt, a Restless Heart, and a Refusal To Walk Away…

On one of our final days in the village, scheduling schools, our translators (and friends) took us to a place where we could get lunch. We pulled up to this quaint little place, filled with hammocks, where we were instructed to sit back and relax while our chicken & rice was prepared for us. While I love the laid back, “enjoy each moment” culture; I also happened to be in a skirt. Although my skirt was completely appropriate for the work I was doing, it was not quite designed to lie in a hammock. So I tried to sit near the hammocks in a lady like fashion, but that quickly grew old, so I began to wander. As I did, God began to pull my heart towards several kids buying snacks nearby at a roadside vender. I couldn’t leave them there. I knew that the school nearby was not one we would be bringing a team to. And unless something happened, they would not get the opportunity to hear the Gospel, at least not from us. What if no one ever came to them? I couldn’t just sit back and do nothing. So I returned to where my translators and Bailey were waiting.

After explaining to them what we must do, Soytry (one of our translators), Bailey and I, returned to speak to the children. As we approached, the group of kids quickly grew and the more we shared, the more children appeared. In just a few moments, the three of us had introduced ourselves, met all of the children and shared the most powerful story anyone can ever hear. We told of Jesus’ birth, His life, death and resurrection. And then we shared what this story could mean for them. In an instant, we brought hope to complete strangers. Of the 39 who had gathered, 33 children and the vender, prayed with us, declaring Jesus Christ as their Lord. All it took was a badly designed skirt, a restless heart and a refusal to walk away from those in need. I hated having to wear that skirt, but I am thankful beyond words for opportunity I was given to share with those children.

This moment, was just one. Just one single moment of one single day – and through it, lives have been forever changed. And as undeniably awesome as that moment was, its only just beginning. The next 5 days are literally going to help transform countless lives throughout this nation. I am so blessed to be here and humbled at all that God is doing.

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(Pictured above is a quick shot I was able to get, right before Bailey and I, led these children in the prayer of salvation – it was absolutely amazing!)

I invite you to come along with me over the next few weeks, check back from time to time and experience all that God is doing in Cambodia. With that, I guess I really must say goodnight – for now.

Jamie Lynn Sivak Signature

IF YOU MISSED PART 1 – EXPLORATION & CHANCE ENCOUNTERS OR PART 2 – MINISTRY MOVEMENTS & MIGHTY MEN, BE SURE TO CHECK THEM OUT!

For more info, check out New Life Fellowship Cambodia and/or Global Ventures.

© 2017 JAMIE LYNN SIVAK ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Ministry Movements & Mighty Men// Stories From Abroad: CAMBODIA ’17 – Part 2

It has officially been two weeks since my return to Cambodia. And although I have been terrible at updating all of you, I have a really good excuse… work. Lots of work, and sometimes in life, I have found its best to just live in the moment, enjoy the adventure and then go back to record it all.

The past two weeks have been filled with work, of course, but also an incredible amount of fun. I am continually amazed at how different and complex, people around the world can be, but when it comes down to it, we really are all alike. In every country that I work in, as a part of the Global Ventures team, we always work with local contacts; these can be local Pastors, church members or full time missionaries.

Not Just a Ministry, but a Movement.

This time we have been partnering with not just a single church, a system of churches (both in the main city and throughout villages), church plants, cell groups and local bible studies – all of which are working together to truly impact the Kingdom of Cambodia. New Life Fellowship Cambodia, is an amazing church planting movement that not only has churches in operation, but also multiple areas of outreach ministry. One of their programs helps impoverished or orphaned children out in the villages, another program works specifically to provide a better future for children and families living in the slums or dump grounds. They have leadership programs to train up Cambodians as well as their own internship program. The list of things they are doing for this nation could literally go on and on.

I am truly in awe at all that they are doing to help change a nation. And what is truly powerful is that it is not just several westerners running everything. Cambodians are paving the way and more are being continually prepared to transform their own nation with the power of the Gospel.

For more info or to help partner financially with New Life Fellowship Cambodia (NLFC), you can check out their website at http://www.cambodiaoutreach.org/.

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From left to right: Veasna, me, Bailey and Pastor Somnang – read on to find out more about these guys. 

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Soytry (above in yellow plaid) along with Bailey, me, some more local volunteers, and some super excited school kids. Read on to hear about Soytry.

Mighty Men and Hearts of Gold.

There have been three amazing men of God, that Bailey and I have had the privilege of working with consistently during our time here; Pastor Samnang, Vaesna and Soytry all of whom, are staff in the NLFC Missions Department. We’ve been so blessed to get to work with many other local pastors, but these three men have been the driving force in helping Bailey and I accomplish all that we need to do, to prepare for the incoming Global Ventures’ (GV) missions team.

Pastor Samnang has been the “make it happen” guy, literally an unseen force in the darkness. He hasn’t been out with us each day in the villages, but he has still continually worked on our behalf and is constantly making sure that we have everything we need.

Vaesna and Soytry though, these two, are a completely different story. They both work just as hard as Pastor Samnang, but they have been faithfully by our side each and every day as we would go and meet with directors of schools out in the villages to arrange for GV team to come and present the Gospel to the students. Vaesna and Soytry began as our mouthpiece to the world, our translators, converting our simple English into eloquent Khmer. They not only served as our translators, but also our guides. And somewhere along the way, as hearts pursuing the same purpose usually do, we became friends. And not just “Facebook friends” but actual tangible friends, the kind you look forward to seeing each day and enjoying being with. Their hearts truly beat to help the people of their nation – just as Bailey and my heart beat as well.

Working with these guys has not only been inspiring, but undeniably fun. Every day, Bailey and I laugh – sometimes until we can’t breathe. Humor is something that has deepened our friendships. Vaesna and Soytry have us singing songs and as a result, we have ended up with a theme song (Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah”) – that one tune we find ourselves unable to stop singing. And we’ve had times of signing worship songs that are incredible. My favorite moments by far, have to be the random opportunities they will take to quote Joel Osteen’s opening monologue to his church members. “This is my Bible. I am what it says I am. I can do what it says I can do…”

Vaesna is a gentle soul. He found out that we like coffee and not only does he make sure we get coffee every time he sees us, but he always pays for it. And when we have tried to discourage him from feeling like he needs to do so, he all but argues for the right to buy us coffee. He is kind and generous. The thing I love most about him is the love he shows for his wife and daughter. He talks about them often and is quick to share pictures. And he absolutely adores his little girl. She is undeniably beautiful with the cutest little black curls you’ve ever seen.

Soytry is amazing. Much more dramatic than Vaesna but every bit as kind hearted. He has definitely kept Bailey and I on our toes. He is passionate about helping people and seems to really love children. A godly man, training to one day lead a church of his own in the village he has grown up in. We talked about him working with the church in the city one day, but he said he’d rather be out in the village among the people.

These two guys really have been inspiring. And I hate that our time together is quickly coming to an end, but I feel in my heart that what may be a temporary end to a project is not the end of our work together.

Ribbit Ribbit…

There are so many moments all four of us have shared and I wish I could share them all with you but there are just too many. I will share one of my favorites though.

So, they really enjoy eating frog. I however have not ever eaten frog and frankly, I don’t plan on ever consuming Kermit. They have teased me and offered frog quite a few times. You literally buy them 3 on a stick off of a roadside vendor’s cart. My response has been, a polite refusal. “Thank you so much, but I’m not really a big frog eater.” To which they respond, “No problem, frogs aren’t big. They’re just little things.” Okay, it may not be as funny to you, but I have laughed uncontrollably each time we talk about it.

I hope you have enjoyed getting to see a bit more into the lives of my new friends here in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Stay tuned. I have more to share in the next few days and soon the main Global Ventures team will arrive for 5 days of street ministry and mass crusades. We are bound to see thousands receive Jesus and miracles will happen as well – I can’t wait to share everything with you!

Jamie Lynn Sivak Signature

© 2017 JAMIE LYNN SIVAK ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Exploration and Chance Encounters // Stories From Abroad: CAMBODIA ’17 – Part 1

Back Again.

After nearly 30 hours of travel, my friend, Bailey and I, the designated Set-Up team for Global Ventures, finally found ourselves in Cambodia. As we left the airport, the familiar face of our translator and local contact, Samnang, was waiting for us. The last time I found myself in this nation was at least 6 year ago, and while I remembered Samnang’s face, to be completely honest, I didn’t really remember much more than that. I knew though, that he had been a vital piece of the ministry leadership team that we had worked with in the past. Even though my memory failed me, I knew that face and knew that if he was helping out the team this year, that we were in good hands.

After checking into our hotel, we quickly set out to the business at hand, and made plans for the work that needed to be accomplished over the next two weeks. After which, we said our goodbyes and Samnang released us for the following day, as it was a national holiday. Bailey and I, completely exhausted from the travel, returned to the hotel and found ourselves easily succumbing to sleep, as jet lag consumed us. And with that, the first official 3 days of our trip and come and gone.

Exploration and Chance Encounters.

After hours upon hours of sleep, catching up on what we had lost, Bailey and I, woke ready to take on the city of Phnom Penh, and see what trouble we could get into. Okay, I’m totally kidding, as a responsible representative of a missions organization, I made sure to keep Bailey and I, in safe areas and we totally avoided all signs of trouble. Seriously.

Our exploration led us to the nearby Russian Market, so called because years ago, there was a huge influx of Russian ex-pats in the area who frequented this market. Here you could find all the necessities, name brand clothing and shoes, probably all knock-offs, but a nice assortment nonetheless. Then you had electronics, power tools and food of all types. After wandering through quite a bit of this market, we found ourselves deep within where the souvenirs were located. To be quite honest, I had no expectations for today, just wanted to see if I could locate some inexpensive pearls. I certainly didn’t expect to meet, Sophya.

As we neared her booth, as many of the venders do, Sophya welcomed us and encouraged us to take a look at all of the beautiful things she had for sale. As she continued to talk to us, Sophya asked questions about where we were from. She spoke nearly perfect English and so conversing with her came easily. As Sophya opened up to us, Bailey and I began to share with her why we were really n Cambodia. She said that she too, like us, desired to do good and to help those less fortunate than her, to make a difference in the lives of her people and her country. I could see she was open and I began to explain the reason that we desired to help the people of Cambodia because Jesus had done so much for us. We shared the simple Gospel story with her and she listened intently. Sophya claimed that she had heard of Jesus and believed in Him. She said that she prayed to Him too. And with that, I took things further to share about the miracles we had seen around the world, I told of deaf ears opening, blind people seeing for the first time, and a child being completely set free from AIDS. As I did, you could see her eyes light up as though the news we shared was amazing – and it was.

Now this is the part of the story, where I would like to tell you that Sophya immediately gave her life to Jesus with a simple prayer, or that she had some dreaded disease that we prayed for and was instantly healed, but that’s not what happened. It would make for more of a “news worthy” story, but that’s just not how things went down.

Sophya appeared to be truly touched by what we had shared, and although I believe she is in the place of believing in Jesus, but not letting go of the religion she was raised on, God still used us to speak to her. We asked if we could pray for her, for anything specific, and she really just wanted prayer more or less to be successful in all she did and to be able to continue to help people. And so we prayed.

Now the reality is, we were American tourists in a tourist city, in a market frequented by… Yep, you guessed it, tourists. Tourists are known to be people who have ample amounts of money to throw away on souvenirs. And yes, there is at least a 50% chance that this sweet girl had crafted her sales pitch over the years and was good at reading and meeting people exactly where they are to “make the sale”, I believe this encounter was more than that. I don’t fully understand why we encountered this girl, but I know in my heart that God was at the center of it – and where He is, powerful things happen.

Sophya

(Bailey, Sophya and me.)

Jamie Lynn Sivak Signature

© 2017 JAMIE LYNN SIVAK ALL RIGHTS RESERVED