“Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Matthew 25:45
Over the last few weeks, we have continued to strive to understand the needs of the Samaki Vietnamese community. These are the people we have come to know and minister to over the last nine months. As the struggles of COVID-19 continue, we are continuing to learn how to show God’s love to the community, to creatively encourage, and to continue to proclaim God’s Word. Just as everyone in the world is struggling with the economic impact of COVID-19, Siem Reap has also been affected harshly. With the travel bans, Siem Reap, being mostly a tourist town, has suffered greatly. Many hotels, restaurants, and even many night-market stalls – which are largely dependent on foreign travellers – have shut down, both temporarily and permanently. This has had a trickle-down effect. Even our landlord, who is also a vegetable farmer, is unable to sell his crops because of the service industry shut-downs. So, as we mentioned in our last update, we had shifted some of our focus to provide some food aid and this past week were able to continue blessing around 40 families in our ministry community. There are a few individuals in the community who we had identified to disciple and develop as leaders. We intentionally had them be a part of the planning, purchasing and parcelling out of bags of rice, eggs and condiments. In total we were able to hand out over 750 kg of food and 1200 eggs. We believe it is important to encourage them to take an active role in understanding the needs and have ownership of caring and loving their own neighbours. Efforts are being made to teach these few leaders-in-training that this is an active way to show God’s love.
This very tangible means of loving people in this time of need is challenging our team in many different ways. What does it look like to empower the community to care for one another? How do we do it in a way where we give all the glory to God? What do we do when we can no longer support this temporary food aid program? When will this crisis come to an end? There are many questions that come to mind but the answers are few, and not always clear. Even more so, we are looking ahead to when we can meet together again. What will that look like? What should we be focusing on? How do we build meaningful relationships that become discipling relationships? How do we know which road to take? In this uncertain time of waiting, our team has been challenged to re-evaluate all the things that we have been doing in this ministry we have inherited. We have been challenged to re-imagine what ministry to this community could look like and rethink past and current practices. It is a grueling process as we weigh all the various elements and values. It is messy as well because it involves the consideration of varying ideas and the impact on people. In this time of “limbo” where we are unable to do the things we used to do, like hold tutoring classes at the ministry centre, or meet face to face for worship service, God has given us this hidden blessing of time to ponder all these things. Please pray with us as we discern God’s will for this ministry. Pray that we are able to have a clear vision of how to proclaim God’s Word effectively. Pray that we build a discipling relationship with those individuals the Holy Spirit has impressed on our hearts. We recognize as with the rest of the world that whatever the new “norm” is that we return to, it will not be the same as before. And with God’s leading, we believe it be for the better.
Please continue to prayer for us in the coming weeks:
- Pray for the many families in our ministry and in Cambodia who are having a hard time earning enough money to provide for their families during this pandemic. .
- Pray for our team as we discern God’s will for the Siem Reap Vietnamese Ministry. Pray that we will have a clear vision of how to proclaim God’s word effectively, especially during this time where churches are not allowed to meet.
- Pray for us as we build discipling relationships with those God has impressed upon our hearts.
- Pray for the shortages in the Global Advance Fund as many individual and churches are facing financial hardships during this time.
Thanks again for journeying with us!
Dave, Joyce, Jadon, Elisabeth, & Josiah.