Stephen & Angela | First Week in Cambodia
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First Week in Cambodia

We are in Cambodia!  Since our Discipleship Training School (DTS) is ASEAN-themed (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), our school and nine others from ASEAN countries have come together in Battambang, Cambodia for four more weeks of teaching.  All the schools will have a “mini” two-week outreach in the middle of teaching as well.  At the end of this week our team will be doing our mini outreach in the province of Trat in southeastern Thailand.

Cambodia is such a beautiful and colorful country.  There are certain similarities between Cambodia and Thailand and some of our Burmese friends also said it reminds them of their home country too.  But Cambodia definitely has it’s own flavor.  As we were washing clothes on the roof of our guest house early this morning, the Cambodian music playing over neighborhood speakers, people riding their bicycles and motorbikes to work and the cool morning breeze blowing through the trees all reminded me that Cambodia has its own kind of beauty.   

A highlight for me in this past week was when we got the opportunity to go out in small groups and meet people throughout the city.  We prayed before going out and one girl in my group, Ploy, saw a picture a lady selling meatballs and hot dogs.  In prayer I felt like we were supposed to invest in whoever we stopped to talk with and not hurry on to the next person.

Ploy and I were paired with a Cambodian guy, Banya, to help us with translation and we were off to find our hot dog lady!  We asked two or three people if they knew where we could buy some hot dogs and they all sounded unsure, but pointed us to a general direction of where they might be.  We’d been walking for about fifteen minutes and almost gave up, but then we finally saw the hot dog cart!  We started talking with the lady as we ordered some food and learned her name is “Jing” and she is 28.  We asked her if we could sit and eat instead of taking it to go, so she made a place for us to sit.  We then asked if she could join us when she wasn’t busy so we could talk and get to know her.  She smiled and said “Sure!”

Jing then proceeded to be busy for about ten minutes and I started to think she might not ever sit with us, but she made it!  We talked in Thai to English to Khmer and back again.  She asked who we were and what we were doing in Cambodia, so we told her we were coming to meet new friends and share about Jesus.  When we asked her what she’s heard about Jesus, she said she knew He is a good teacher who teaches about things like patience.  So we shared the Gospel of Jesus with her, then afterward, our friend, Banya, shared some of his testimony with her (he told us he’d translate it to us afterward).

Jing was asking questions and had a lot of similar experiences as Banya.  They had both heard a lot of bad things would happen to you if you believed in Jesus – you would have to drink blood, after you died your body would be hung on a cross too and none of your family would be sad, etc.  Banya shared with her how he had started going to the Christian community center in town to learn English but he didn’t want to become a Christian, so he didn’t for a while.  But as he met and got to know some of the staff and people there, he saw that they weren’t like what he had heard about people who believed in Jesus.

Banya shared many other stories and experiences with Jing and it was so amazing to see (while not being able to understand 95% of what was being said) the Holy Spirit so clearly moving through Banya’s testimony and how open and welcoming Jing was to hear and receive.  Toward the end, he gave her the paper we had with the Gospel on it.  He showed her what the Scripture references meant and explained how to read them.  He got out his Bible and showed her the name of the book came first, then the first number was the chapter and the second number was the verse.  She had a big “aha” look on her face as she understood and told him at first she thought it was the time or something.  (I loved that he did that!)

He asked her if she’d like a Bible and she said she would, so next week, we will go back and take her one.  Banya said to read it and “the good stuff, you can use it in your life, and if you read something that isn’t good, you don’t have to use it in your life.  For me, I have seen that it has been good for my life and has helped me a lot.”  Banya said this so she doesn’t feel like she is being pushed or forced to believe, but encouraged to read and see for herself.  
It is so exciting to see God speaking to and through His people as He uses each part of His Body to do His mission in the earth.  I believe God will be faithful to complete the work that has started in Jing’s heart.  Please be in prayer for her!     

  • Heather Ewalt
    Posted at 18:04h, 06 March

    Can’t wait to hear updates about Jing! We will be praying for her and you all.

  • Jon
    Posted at 01:42h, 07 March

    Praying for you!

  • Kristin Storment
    Posted at 09:52h, 07 March

    Oh my heart. Your description at the beginning makes my heart just ache (in a good way!). I miss that beautiful, beautiful place! Praying for you guys! I’m so happy that you get to meet one of my favorite countries!!

  • Stephen
    Posted at 14:27h, 07 March

    Hey Angela/Stephen – there’s a question I got curious about when reading your post. Banya’s approach of saying “…the good stuff, you can use it in your life, and if you read something that isn’t good, you don’t have to use it in your life” — given this approach is often seen as a pitfall of an uncommitted Christian, is introducing the Bible like this mainly a way to take the edge off at the beginning of someone’s experience with Christianity, with the assumption that, hopefully, it will seem all “good” later? No need for a long answer – again, just curious, since I know you are learning a lot as you go along. Thanks, and we miss you.

  • Stephen
    Posted at 05:26h, 08 March

    Stephen, I love that question! :) You are absolutely right that I am learning a lot as we go along. So all I can give are my thoughts.

    I thought it was interesting when I heard that as well, and felt a bit uncomfortable with the statement to some extent. I think for Banya and the main intention behind him saying that was because prior to ten minutes ago, Jing’s only understanding about people who follow Jesus was that they drink blood and have a bizarre burial when they die. I think Banya’s statement is in that context. “Hey, read this. It has helped my life immensely. If there is stuff like drinking blood and getting hung on a cross after you die, then don’t use that stuff” – This is knowing full well that Jing won’t encounter that when she reads the Bible, but she will hopefully encounter God. :)

    If however, I were talking to someone in the “Bible Belt” in America I wouldn’t say what Banya said, but I think the same principle applies. “Hey read this. It’s changed my life immensely.” We in the States might not hear the drinking blood stuff, but we do see and hear expressions of Christianity that don’t actually follow what Jesus taught. The whole reason it took me so long to trust in God and start a relationship with Jesus (at 18) was because I saw Christians acting in ways that were contrary to what I felt like a God of Love would be like.

    I definitely don’t want to paint the picture of “pick and choose” what you like from the Bible. I would just emphasize reading the Bible to find out who Jesus really is, not who people say He is and not based on the actions of people.

    I could talk about this so much more but there is a short snippet of my thoughts. It’s just a shame that we weren’t able to eat Taziki’s hummus while we talked :) Miss you too!

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