Wow… Summer has blown by for us here in Cambodia. Not only has summer blown by but the last 2 years has as well. August 3rd marked the 2-year anniversary of our family arriving in Cambodia. Truth be told, it sort of came and went and we didn’t celebrate or think much of it as our minds were pre-occupied with many other things. COVID-19 has made us change not only the things we do here but also our expectations of what we do. Who would have thought that our two-year mark in Cambodia would be marked by COVID restrictions and serving in the midst of a pandemic? But we know that our God is sovereign above all and His plans and ways will still move forward, maybe just not how we would have wanted or expected it to.
These days, the phrase “keep the faith” carries more meaning than just flashbacks of a younger Jon Bon Jovi in a leather jacket (I recognize some of you may not get this image so you will have to Google it). These days, “keep the faith” is a reminder for our team. Like the rest of the world, Cambodia and our ministry are still affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the number of people infected in Cambodia pales in comparison to the numbers in Canada and many other countries, life has still been impacted for many here. Many of the locals here are having a hard time earning a living and as such, the poorest of these are the most affected. Please continue to pray for the physical needs of the people of Cambodia,
As we continue to find ways to carry forward with our ministry, we continue to remind people that they need to keep the faith and keep trusting in God. It has been over 5 months since we have been able to gather altogether to worship on Sundays and our tutoring centre has also been closed for nearly 6 months. For many, the end seems out of sight. We continue to share the message that we serve a God who is bigger than school and church closures. We serve a God who is bigger than food aid programs or government subsidies. But the truth is, for many people whose faith was young to begin with, reminding them to keep the faith and trust in God during this difficult time has been a true stretch of their faith. For many of them, their past faith has been so connected to coming to the church for bible studies and Sunday worship but now all of a sudden, they have to try to figure out what following Jesus means when you don’t have a building to go to on Sundays. Many for the first time are being challenged to be proactive and self-dependent in their spiritual journey. Please pray for the believers here that they will keep pushing on in their faith journeys.
Last month we had an opportunity to visit New Eden Bible School. NEBS was just halfway through its first year of operations when COVID-19 closed down all schools in Cambodia. They quickly had to switch to online teaching and all the students returned home to their hometowns. We put our Khmer to the test and prayed with Rev. Sangot in Khmer. Maybe they didn’t understand everything we said but God knows what we were trying to say. Please pray for the students, the teachers and the Director Rev. Sangot Yuen. Pray that they will keep the faith and not grow weary during this trying time of teaching and learning. Pray that they will be able to more forward with the 2020-2021 academic year with online studies.
Lastly, pray for us. Despite all the changes, our team here in Siem Reap is excited for what God is doing. We continue to sense God pushing us to focus even more upon discipleship and leadership training. This is a change from some of our previous focuses, so please pray that we can communicate this well to those in the ministry here. Please pray for the 4 persons that we are presently focusing on to be key leaders in the church here. Pray that we and they do not grow weary during the sometimes seemingly slow journey of discipleship. Pray that the Holy Spirit will light a fire in the hearts of these 4 to want to grow and learn to live more like Christ. Pray that they will keep the faith and not be pulled away by the temptations of life and continue to meet with us
Last week our 3 children started online school again at Hope International School. There is still uncertainty about when our children will return to a physical classroom. Please pray for the government as they make plans to re-open more schools in the near future. Pray for our own Hope International School leaders as they work with the government to get approval to re-open their campus.
As we read the news and see what is happening in the rest of the world, we realize that Christians everywhere are also being challenged in their faith. We are being challenged to examine what have done in the past, what we are presently doing and what God may be calling us to do in the future.
For us personally, as we continue to await the lessening of meeting restrictions we are relying on our faith. We spent a moment to reflect upon the events of the past month and have seen how there have been difficulties with carrying out some of our plans. People we have planned meetings with have suddenly become busy or sick. Others have had to go out of town last minute or have even moved away. It is easy to chalk all this up to coincidence or just life but in our recent bible study we taught about how Satan is an enemy of God and loves to bring opposition to God’s plans. “12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12).
Please pray for us to keep coming back to God for strength and wisdom as we serve Him. Pray for us to not lose heart despite some recent disappointments and to keep the faith. Pray that we can continue to spur on the faith of those that we minister among.
Even though COVID-19 has affected our ministry, our kids’ school arrangements, and regular sabbath days, we have also been blessed with the ability to enjoy more family time together. There have been some extra moments to pause and rest. We were able to take some time to intentionally step away from all the busyness and simply enjoy God’s creation as well. Last year, our kids didn’t really get to have a “summer holiday” because we were busy moving from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap as well as learning about the ministry here and receiving short term teams. This year, though there were disappointments as plans of relatives visiting from Canada were cancelled due to COVID, we visited parts of Cambodia that we may have otherwise been too busy to take the time to explore and enjoy. Thank God for helping us recognize the need to rest and recharge and then gifting us with the time and ability to do so. We pray that you are also able to take some time to pause in the midst of “screen fatigue” and whatever changes came your way. Rest in God’s awesomeness and recharge in His arms. Keep the faith.
David, Joyce, Jadon, Elisabeth and Josiah.
- Pray for the local believers that they will keep the faith in the midst of the challenges these past few months.
- Pray for the leaders that we are training. Pray that they will not grow weary with the mentoring and discipleship process.
- Pray for New Eden Bible School as well as the 2 other CMA bible schools in Cambodia Antioch and Elim.
- Pray for us as we continue to meet in small groups to worship and study the Bible each week.
- Pray for our children as they begin their classes online at Hope International School.
- Pray for protection and health as many in our community have gotten sick from various illnesses over the past few months, particularly from Chikungunya.
Rev Sangot Yuen (Director New Eden Bible School) and his wife
Joyce teaching bible stories to kids during weekly adult Bible studies
Grateful for the opportunity to have some fun family time
Boat ride on Tonle Sap lake to visit the school on the lake.
Glad to have Meng back this summer from Bible College and helping out with teaching at Sunday home worship
Hard at work taking apart scrap metal to sell