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