I have received a number of emails from folks wondering what's happened to us, why we are not answering or sending out emails.I apologize.We have simply gotten too busy.Debbie has gotten involved in some new projects and in order to free her up to do so, I've taken on home schooling the boys. But I am still teaching my staff scripture and continue managing our humanitarian work, and have not been successfully doing everything well. Many things have been neglected, including correspondence.Please forgive my ignoring many of you.
I am encouraged with Mr. Bot, the former assistant pastor at the local church.He came to see me in December.He had not attended church for two weeks and told me he wanted to leave the church.He said he was discouraged by the pastor's increasing control of every aspect of church and his sermons, which he describes as Sok's own ideas rather than God's.Bot says he felt the church no longer served any purpose.To make matters worse, Bot's wife has been very unsupportive and simply wants him to continue attending church quietly, doing nothing, saying nothing, making no waves.
We talked a long time.I asked Bot what would become of all the other Christians in the church if he left?He replied he wasn't thinking of them and just wanted to quietly leave.I told him I did not know for sure what he should do myself, but while I suspected simply continuing in the current situation doing nothing saying nothing was of little value, I asked Bot, "was leaving the church quietly your own plan or God's plan?"I know Bot hates disagreement and confrontation.
Then just 3 weeks ago he shocked me, and others.He stood up in church and very nicely and humbly but directly and firmly pointed out key problems in the church.He spoke very directly about the pastor's leadership, saying there was little love and joy left in the church, and saying he believed the pastor was blocking the door for others who might be seeking God. The pastor tried to get him to stop speaking at one point, but Bot resolutely kept on, but in a kind manner.I was amazed at his boldness.After he finished, Pastor Sok had some harsh words for him, but Bot handled it graciously.Later Bot told me the night before he felt the Lord putting on his heart firmly that he must address the problems in the church.He is seeming less and less afraid of the pastor, but is maintaining his gracious attitude.
I hope the following story is not disturbing to any of you but I'd like to tell it as we are having increasing encounters such as these.Recently, Rit, a woman living down the road, sent to Debbie for her help.She had diabetes and was now very sick.Deb had examined her many months before and told her she could help her at the clinic, but she needed treatment straight away before the diabetes progressed.However she refused to go to the clinic.Though not destitute, she was angry that the clinic asked 50 cents up front to be seen.Rit has a reputation for stinginess, greediness, rarely paying back loans, and generally being a very mean woman.Few of Rit's relatives will speak to her because of her general nastiness.Some years ago, she evicted a young relative living in her house because she was dying from tuberculosis.The young girl died in a small hut.
Anyway, Rit instead chose to see local shamans, who put spiritual paraphernalia in her house and invoked the powers of many spirits to make her well.But she only got sicker and poorer. Now after a recent botched abortion, which left her extremely ill, she had come to see Deb again.This time Deb told her bluntly that she would die unless she received immediate medical attention at a hospital in the city.Deb gave her some money to make the trip and referred her to a clinic where a Christian American doctor works.A couple days after she departed we got an urgent call from her sister asking us to send word to her relatives to rush to the city to say goodbye to her because she was dying.No relatives went in for none were particularly sorry that she would die.Yet she did not die.Some days later she returned home, and the next day her husband brought her over on a bicycle to see us.I could not believe this woman.She was completely different.She was happy and smiling and very gracious and very grateful. Though Debbie had helped her in the past, she had never offered any thanks. Then she told her story.
The doctors found a serous infection in her spleen brought about by the botched abortion.Though they began treatment right away, her condition sharply worsened.That's when we got the urgent call.The doctor later confirmed to us that she indeed almost died.However, a Christian worker in the hospital had earlier shared with her about Jesus.She had been very impressed by the care of the Christian workers and had watched the "Jesus" movie.The night she became deathly ill, she felt the spirits repeatedly attacking her and grabbing her, pulling her down into another dark world. Each time she cried out, "Jesus, I don't know who you are really, and I don't know how to pray, but please save me," and each time the grabbing relented.By morning, the crisis was over.In fact, she began recovering quickly and a few days later they sent her home.When she came to our house, she was a very joyous woman, a totally different woman.She came to tell us she was afraid of the evil spirits.After her near death, she had cut off the amulets and Khmer traditional string that goes around her waist, which many rural Khmers have to protect them from evil spirits.The first night home she dreamed the spirits told her they were now coming to kill her.She asked us if we would go to her house and pray over her house.
Before we agreed, Debbie talked with her a long time, explaining the gospel and asking her questions.Debbie became convinced she had a genuine understanding and faith in Jesus.Rit said, "I am so sick of those spirits! I'm always making new spirit houses and doing ceremonies to appease them, but they didn't make me well!I don't want to be afraid anymore.Nor do I have the money to keep appeasing them constantly.I am tired of being deceived by them!"Debbie asked her if she would pray to Jesus.Rit asked Jesus to heal her physically, to forgive her sins, and to free her of her fear of evil spirits whom she realized just wanted to control her and make her sick (I thought of John 10:10).
Then we bicycled over to pray over her house, though with just a little concern.Rit told us she intended to get rid of all the idols and artifacts, which was great, but we knew it could be very sensitive if we foreigners were perceived as destroying local beliefs.But on the way, there just happened to be the village chief sitting right by the road about a hundred yards before Rit's house.He is a close relative of Rit.I decided maybe him being there was from the Lord.Deb and I stopped, said a quick prayer, then I simply told the village chief what Rit had asked us to do, and asked him if that was okay with him.In the past he's been anti-Christian.He replied evenly, "If that's what she wants, that's her business."
We talked with Rit's husband to see how he felt about his wife's wishes.He said he'd do whatever his wife wanted, but when Rit stated clearly she wanted to get rid of all the spiritual paraphernalia, his eyes grew wide and asked, "ALL of them!?"Yet he still agreed.I asked her again if she was sure she wanted to do this.When she answered in an irritated tone, "Yes, I want to get rid of them all," I figured she was sure.
Debbie and I both prayed for Rit and her family, and that the Holy Spirit would fill their lives.Then I commanded out loud in Khmer to all the evil spirits that by the authority of Jesus Christ that they must leave her house and return no more, and told them Rit was now a child of God and belonged to God.We asked God to protect her, her family, her home, and her livestock under the house.Then she and her husband got up, removed all the spiritual idols and paraphernalia, took them outside, and immediately burned them all! Deb and I were both a bit taken aback, but very pleasantly so.
But please pray for her.Her oldest son is upset with her and told her she was very foolish to destroy the idols.We gave her a bible but the only one in the family who can read is the oldest son.She needs support and fellowship of other Christians but the church situation is not particularly conducive to support and fellowship at this time.Yet we praise God for what he is doing in her life.Rit is now walking and riding bicycles, her health is greatly improved, and every time we see her she has a big smile on her face.She has some dirty laundry yet to deal with her in her life.Her son asked once if the children of the God "Jesus" were allowed to cuss and lose their temper.Debbie has talked to her and encouraged her to deal with remaining sinful habits in her life now that she has chosen to give her allegiance to Jesus.
- I do not feel free to explain or give details, but we both feel it is possible that there may soon be a concerted effort to shut down the new church and some of our own activity.I apologize for being so vague; yet ask for your prayers in this matter.
- Please pray for wisdom, courage, and a good attitude for Bot and for his wife.Pray for the three young leaders (Yey, Paul, and Nyal) of the new church who are currently trying to obtain official government recognition of their church.
- Pray also for Pastor Sok.A Sunday does not go by when he does not preach an angry sermon, that studying the Bible is wrong, and that there are false teachers about (me).How great God could use him if he would humble himself and return to teaching God's truth, rather than the HS teacher's version (see previous journals).
By His Grace,