International Ministries

God Will Be In This Situation Too

January 21, 2003 Journal
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Not long after I wrote my last writing about the Tuberculosis (TB) project, provincial health officials reneged on a couple conditions they had agreed on.Despite this nuisance, we are still very pleased with the new TB program.They have not reneged on our most essential request, which allows us to treat patients quickly using our own drugs when the government refuses them. In the past we had to stand by and watch patients languish and even die because the government would not allow us to accept them for petty technicalities.

Best of all, Mr. Ooun, our new staff, is turning out to be a gem.In spite of little education, he is a quick study, and a good thinker.He has turned out to be a very steady and almost stubborn worker, which has been an asset. He is not afraid of the government nurses, does not allow them to push him around, and is very thorough with each TB patient, despite pressure from the government to do otherwise.He goes out of his way to find people sick with TB, and twice now has even brought them in to the clinic on the back of his bike when he comes to work in the morning.Debbie and Mr. Ooun have had many opportunities to pray with some of the patients.Ooun's prayers, all for non-Christians, are simple, gracious, and sensitive.The program has gained enough local trust already that people are streaming in to be checked for TB.Thank you for your prayers.We are so grateful to the Lord for His goodness.We also unexpectedly received a generous White Cross grant to buy drugs for the patients, allowing us to treat patients the government rejects.So many prayers answered!

We are also very grateful for God's working in our son.Jesse, our youngest, suddenly developed a strange jerking in his eyes about 2 weeks ago.His eyes would jerk and roll up in his head momentarily.This would happen 10-20 times every minute all day.We took him to several doctors in the country, all doctors whom we trust.None had seen this condition before and all recommended we take Jesse to Thailand and find a neurologist. Debbie was dreading the trip, partly because she was afraid the doctors would tell her they didn't know what it was either.So Debbie delayed.But the problem did not get better.We decided it was probably time to take Jesse to Thailand, but decided to ask God again if he might intervene early.We asked God to show us what to do, then laid hands on Jesse's eyes and head and asked that he would choose to heal Jesse quickly, or show us that we needed to go to Thailand.We must admit our faith was not impressive.Yet the next day we saw only two eye jerks the entire day!They are now completely gone.A few of you knew of this situation and were praying and we thank you for your prayers.We are humbled with God's kindness.

I have not written about the situation with the pastor here for awhile. Some things are better and some are not.Nyaa and Paul finally got up the courage and humility to sit down with Pastor Sok, and to admit to their own wrongs.I'm not sure if Sok actually admitted to any specific wrongs, but did say he was sorry.And there is some relationship restored now.Anyway, it was a big step.They are now back at church, along with a couple others from their village!Thanks for those prayers too.

I no longer feel Sok is competing with me or our work.In fact, he seems to have gone out of his way to let me know that it is okay for me to hire key Christians (his "lieutenants") in the church, including the two past workers which quit a year ago at his urging.His attitude towards me is quite different than before.I have also asked Sok to teach me some Khmer (Cambodian), which we do most mornings.This has been good for our relationship, and my language.

Unfortunately, Sok's attitude in the church is difficult.Every sermon is very harsh and basically the same message.I find it embarrassing to be in church, especially when there are visiting non-Christians.In the last service, Sok, referring to a man who keeps coming to church but apparently has been seen at the local Buddhist temple, called him a dog, a dog returning to his vomit.The man has never professed a commitment to Christ. There is very little teaching.

Sok continues to insist on complete control of all activities, and sees most suggestions from others as threatening.Recently, Paul asked Sok if Sok would come to his village and meet with the children who follow Paul around. Paul has a natural way with them, sings with them, and often talks to them about God.Sok refused.He bluntly replied that "you just want to start another church".Paul certainly wants to be involved in a ministry with children, but wants Sok to be in authority over the ministry.When Paul persisted Sok replied, "if the children really love God they will come here."Not a very profitable evangelistic technique.Paul's village is 4 miles away, a long way for a child with no Christian parents, no car, no bike, no buses.This week the two Sunday school teachers asked Pastor Sok if they could send a Sunday school teacher to Paul's village to teach the children.A flat denial.

I believe the root of the problem is that Sok increasingly views the church and people his own - not the Lord's.Thus, his need to control and why he feels threatened.Again, I ask for your prayers in this matter.I believe the situation is going to come to a head soon.There are a number of new believers, mostly led to the Lord through our staff, but they are becoming quickly discouraged.They very much need good teaching.

I believe that God may be preparing me to talk to Sok again, but on matters much closer to the core of his ministry.I certainly am not looking forward to doing so, and must admit that I doubt that Sok will be open to what I'll have to say.I think his reaction may be quite unpleasant.It is also difficult in that I've known Sok for years, like him very much, and for the most part he's been a good friend.Yet God's wonderful answers for Jesse's eyes, for the TB program, and many others encourages me that God will be in this situation, too.Please pray for Sok's heart to soften.Pray that God's Spirit will lead me and prepare me according to God's wishes.That I will speak in love, but also boldly and clearly according to what God wants me to say.

By His Grace,

John Coats