Dear Friends & Supporters,
Grace and peace to you through our Lord Jesus Christ! Thank you for your continued support of our ministry for 2012. Many of you supported us generously with your funds, others with your prayers. We thank you for both and would like you to know how God used you in this work.
Preparing the Way
Scholars tell us that in ancient times, the main highways in Cambodia belonged to the king, and when he wanted to visit the outlying parts of his realm, heralds would be sent ahead of him to announce, “Prepare the way for the King! Get his highway ready for him!” Then all of the towns and cities along the way would set about filling in the ruts and holes in the road so that it would be smooth when the king passed that way.
So, when John the Baptist began to preach in the wilderness, he quoted from Isaiah the prophet, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight!” And all the people understood that he was acting as a herald of the Christ, the coming King. Our work in Cambodia is like that.
For the past twenty years, HOPE for CAMBODIA has organized a Leadership Training Institute (LTI) for church leaders in northwest Cambodia, hosted in the recently expanded church building in Chamkar Samrong village, just outside of Battambang City. This year, two LTIs were held, one from February 6 to 10, 2012, led by Christopher LaPel and LeBieng R. Chhom; another from July 25 to 29, 2012, led with assistance from a group from Diamond Canyon Christian Church, including Jim Price, Alan Rabe, Mike Malatka, as well as their youth group members Ryan Gable, Kristina Navar, Joseph Valenzuela, Stephanie Garcia, Joseph and James Surdam, Matt Oler, Sabrina Ramirez. Translation services were provided by Sambath Lorn, Vanna and Christopher LaPel.
To transport, house, and feed more than two hundred church leaders in Cambodia, the task of organizing and preparing accommodations were made by a committee of twenty local leaders. They arranged for on-campus housing and three meals a day for over two hundred seventy five people (with the outstanding service of teen cooks and full time helpers); landscaping and decoration of the church property, and setup of a sound system, dining tents, tables, chairs, new bathrooms, and clean drinking water. One woman, trained as a midwife, served as the resident medic and earned the name “Dr. Two Pills.”
More than two hundred attendees traveled by truck or motor-scooter from ten different provinces over bad, dusty roads to get to Chamkar Samrong. Upon arrival, they got together every morning from 6:00 AM to 7:00 AM to pray for us, for the conference, and for their own needs.
Teaching Those Who Will Teach Others
Jim and Alan took turns teaching, and Christopher translated Jim’s outline on Building God’s Church: “Building Your Church and Serving Leadership Demonstrating Jesus’ Way” into Khmer. We had copies made for all every student. For five days, Jim elucidated attendees on how to build God’s church, while Alan taught from 1 Timothy. The students, pastors and lay leaders, gave us their full attention and eagerly took notes (not easily done during the sweltering afternoons!). Some visitors became believers during the conference. On our second day of the LT, we baptized thirty-two people in the clean and clear waters of the pond behind HBI’s library.
Unless the Lord Builds the House…
After the LTI, a group from Golden West Christian Church including James and Jeremy Fuller, Somethea and Aaron Eklon, Molly, Poe, Alex and Nicky Ouklore, and Christopher and Vanna LaPel renewed their love and commitment to continue to share God’s love and God’s word to our beloved Cambodian people. One of the major needs for our house churches is simply to routinely visit, encourage and pray for them. This year our team traveled to Takeo, Kampong Speu, Kampong Chhnang, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap and O’Dor Meanchey. Along with way, we showed films about Jesus, and distributed bibles, medicines, reading glasses, school supplies, and food.
Graduation & the Future
On our last day of the LTI, 77 students of the Hope Bible Institute, classes of 2010-2012, received a diploma from Hope International University, and more than 200 pastors received LTI’s certificates and new Khmer Bibles. Please join us in praying for them as they carry out the work of preparing the way for the Lord.
We are laying plans for a training center to be established at Chamkar Samrong, so that we can keep up with the demands of training more and more church leaders. As we work toward this goal, we will also need to adjust our curriculum to fit the needs of the various levels of maturity in our leaders — from new believers to lay leaders to pastors. Please pray for this. We will continue to share our plans with you as we make progress toward this goal.
On behalf of the team in the United States and the Christians in Cambodia, I want to express my gratitude to God and to you who made this trip so meaningful. You have made a difference in the lives of many Cambodians. Thank you again for your financial donations and your faithful prayers for our ministry in Cambodia.
May God richly bless you!
Yours in Christ,