Wow, what a great few months. I’m falling more and more in Love with this beautiful country. Things have been great but getting more busy. For this month the spiritual climate has also been more challenging with Potchum Benn and other festivals.
Potchum Benn is...“A time when many Cambodians pay their respects to their dead relatives of up to 7 generations. Monks chant in Pali language overnight (continuously, without sleeping) in prelude to the gates of hell opening, an event that is presumed to occur once a year, ghosts of the dead are presumed to be especially active, and thus food-offerings are made to benefit them.” Source Wikipedia.
A busy road outside the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh
An interesting time of year, we are still learning so much about people’s spiritual habits out here.
Anyway, meanwhile, the power of the resurrected Jesus has been setting people free and working with us and through us, equipping us and blessing us. His presence has been incredible, especially during times of worship and meetings. He has an incredible heart and I have had the privilege of sharing encouraging words of prophecy on a number of occasions in the last few months to speak truth into people’s lives to help them to see who they really are in Him.
One of the many torture rooms used by the Khmer Rouge, now it's a museum.
One thing which happened a few weeks ago was a testimony to this powerful and resurrected Jesus working in people’s lives. Our land-lord who is a very kind and gentle Khmer man who survived starvation and forced labour during the Khmer Rouge regime came around to install a fan and shared his story with us. It was such an insightful moment and one which helped us to understand some more of what this country has been through. He had his wife with him that day and I remembered him previously sharing how for almost 40 years (ever since the Khmer Rouge was in power) his wife had been having night terrors EVERY NIGHT. Often kicking and punching him in her sleep because of the nightmares and the fear. As they were here together we saw it as an opportunity to pray for her in the name of this resurrected and powerful Jesus who we trust in.
An ancient temple in Northern Cambodia
As we all prayed I felt the presence of God and she said she felt something, then they went back home because they had finished the jobs they were here to do. We expected a phone call or something a few days later but didn’t hear anything. About a month later when we had almost forgotten about it our landlord came around to do another small job at the house and is passing said “oh thanks by the way for praying for my wife”, for the whole month she had many nights peaceful sleep and only had nightmares on three occasions. We praised God and said they were welcome to come around any time to receive more prayer.
There is such a stronghold of fear over this country, with many people still having night terrors and trapped in fear because of past hurts and current lies, but the power of Christ easily overcomes it with His perfect Love driving out fear. Jesus and the life that is in His Love is the only remedy to the hurt in this land.
Another temple entrance in Northern Cambodia
Sometimes this incredible and loving God asks us to do things which we don’t want to do but trusting Him and being obedient to Him is powerful, knowing that in the end He knows best (plus I would be a hypocrite to call Him “Lord” and then not do as he says!).
I recently experienced an example of having to do something I really didn’t want to do, language learning was going well and I was getting into a good routine and settling into life out here. All of a sudden I felt God tell me I needed to help out by teaching at the local international Christian school. They were desperate for staff at the start of the school year and through a combination of injuries, illnesses and last minute resignations.
Teaching at a high school was the last thing I wanted to do and was a season of my life that I thought was behind me! To be honest I was at first upset and annoyed and confused. I thought my aim was to focus the first 6 months at least on language learning and I thought that I had a really good plan! Why did God have to change it?!
Teaching at Hope International School
I emailed the headmaster who emailed straight back saying what an answer to prayer I was and it would be great if I could help out. It turns out he is from Leeds and even knew some of my colleagues from the previous school I taught at! Small world indeed! After a few days God actually put an excitement back in me to get back into the class room and teach again.
After getting the OK with my Iris team leaders I started working there and have been working there since the beginning of September on a part time basis, going in three days a week. Giving me time to continue with language studies and the other ministries I was involved with. It seemed right to tell them I could only help out until Christmas so it should only be a short term arrangement until then.
It has been great working there, many people have thanked me saying I was an answer to prayer and to be honest I have enjoyed teaching again. The kids are great (mostly missionary kids from all over the world) and the extra bit of pocket money has helped me to save up to buy a motorbike). I suppose God knows best, and I’m not just out here for myself or what I think is right but His kingdom and where he wants me to help in that.
Sunrise over Angkor Wat in Northern Cambodia
Mollie has been busy helping with more medical clinics in Svay Pak and also making preparations to eventually start a clinic (in partnership with another organisation we are working with) right in the centre of Phnom Penh where more victims of the sex industry can be reached. They are also still doing outreaches to girls in the red light district every Friday and slowly building relationships with the girls who work there. Progress seems slow but they are faithfully going out every Friday night to Love and be a blessing to the girls. I have been continuing on with the football coaching and bible teaching with vulnerable boys who live around the riverside area and I have really been enjoying it.
We also had a nice break meeting my brother and his girlfriend across the border in Vietnam. They are touring SE Asia and Australia on a kind of gap year. They also came back to Cambodia with us and it was so nice to have family out here and to show them this wonderful country. It was great for them to meet the amazing people we are working with. We just got back from a trip with them to the North of Cambodia to see Angkor Wat and see some more of the country.
The last couple of weeks I have just felt so blessed to still be a part of this incredible journey God has got us on and I have recently been remembering the true reason we are out here, for Him, wonderful Jesus. This perfect and amazing God who is so fun and enjoyable that we are prepared to move out over to the other side of the world just to follow His heart and get to know Him more. When Jesus is the centre, it’s so easy to be joyful, no matter where you are in the world!
Thank you for your continued prayers, lots of Love,
Steve and Mollie x x