Greetings in the name of kind and faithful Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ! First of all, we want to express our gratitude to you all that have so closely followed my wife’s health issues. Thanks to God, she is doing much better! She still has longer term problems with headaches and her blood sugar. These things are manageable for her now. Thank you for faithfully praying for her.
Grace Baptist Church of Kampong Cham is about the same. Though we haven’t been growing numerically as I would like, I would be short-sighted to overlook the spiritual growth in our people. It has been a blessing to watch! This kind of sameness has offered me an opportunity to really try and teach our folks one-on-one to follow the Lord Jesus daily. They are witnessing to their family and friends and bringing them to church. We have been traveling through Acts in our services. It seems to be very helpful. “Ming Yesu” (Aunt Jesus), as one of our ladies is not-so-affectionately called by her neighbors, can identify with the experiences of the early Christians in Acts.
A couple months ago we held a special 4-day meeting with a guest preacher, Rodney Ruppel, a missionary veteran of 17 years here in Cambodia. He preached on the subject of the church to our people. Since that time, they have exhibited greater faithfulness not only to the services, but also more willingness to join in other ministries. My prayer over the last few months has begun to be, “Lord, give us your increase” (Col. 2:19). I want to ask all of you to join me in praying for this “increase of God” for our church in Kampong Cham, both spiritually and numerically. Another missionary put it like this: pray that God gives us disciples. That’ll work too.
There are a few names that I would also like you to keep before our Lord in prayer. Poch is a middle-aged lady who lives in Toul Srae village, where we have been teaching various people every Friday for a year or more. Poch was listened in a long time ago, but has recently shown renewed interest. She has a lot of confusion about Christianity in general, yet she wants us to teach her. So we are. Please pray that God would open her heart and mind to receive His truth—the truth. Another lady whom I have mentioned in previous correspondence is Srey. We taught her through the whole Gospel, which she then refused because of the potential persecution from her family. We still try and visit her from time to time and pray for her to be saved. Please help us pray for her.
Khmer Christian Radio, an Internet-based Christian radio station in Khmer that we have started, is now on air. Actually, it has been up and running for some time now, but we just recently went public with it. So, it is now available for any Khmer (or non-Khmer) that has an Internet connection. You can tune in at www.khmerchristianradio.com. In the coming months we will hopefully begin adding new music and getting the word out to Khmer churches.
If you receive a hard-copy of this letter and would rather only receive it via email or social media, please let me know. Thank you so much for your prayers and support for our family. Fare ye well, dear brethren.
Due to some crazies harassing us via this blog, I am not posting a copy of our printable prayer letter. If you would like one to print out, please send me an email and I will get one to you.
And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them (Acts 4:13).
In the twenty-first century, few words would be more insulting to a church than, “And of the rest durst no man join himself to them.” We have become obsessed with having a large crowd at the church that we are often blind to the clear praise that God gave to the first church in Jerusalem. For sure, this church did not lack a crowd (Acts 2:41; 4:4). And though God does point out the many people that He added to the church, He also praised them because people didn’t join their ranks. How clearly this demonstrates just how much different God’s perspective of a church is from ours. We would do well to take a lesson.
There are churches that obsess about the number of people in attendance. They are willing to do almost anything to get more. There are other churches that take pride in the fact that people won’t come, as a kind of badge or proof of their spiritual prowess. This church in Jerusalem was like neither.
Paradoxically, the church at Jerusalem had both large numbers and people afraid to join them. So, what’s the key here? The key is found in verse 14—believers joined them.
And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.
The contrast between verse 13 and 14 is stark—and so helpful. Consider all the good things that the apostles and christians were doing to the people of their communities. Verse 16 tells us that they were healing every one that came to them. There was great reason for the words in the latter part of verse 13: “…but the people magnified them.” So, interestingly enough, many people around them who were not a part of the church; that is, they weren’t believers; sang the praises of these christians. Yet they did not join them.
There might have been a number of reasons why these people did not join themselves with the christians. One might have been persecution. The threat of persecution (by “persecution” I am referring to suffering in any form as a result of one’s faith) is a strong resistance to people trusting in Jesus. Here in Cambodia, even before a person trusts in Christ they often become the targets of nasty words, threats, and mockery. This often serves to cool the person’s interest before they are saved. It’s sad, but true.
Last Sunday, a lady in our church brought her sister-in-law to church, who is not a christian. After the service was over (which I later learned was spot on that sister-in-law), the lady in our church asked her sister-in-law to hold her Bible. She refused, saying she didn’t want someone to think she was a christian. That might seem like slight, yet it has a familiar ring, reminescent of Acts 5:13.
Another reason that people did not join themselves with the church in Jerusalem might have been that they did not believe. Society lauded the holiness, good works, and uprightness of the church, but just didn’t believe in the Lord Jesus. This happens regularly here in Cambodia. People that do not believe praise the christians they know, but they themselves don’t care to join in. It just costs too much. Yet another reason might be the strictness of our faith. Just recently I have heard complaints from non-christians that God requires repentance from false gods and 100% faith in Christ alone. That is strict and exclusive, yet it is absolutely true. For at least these reasons, they didn’t dare (“durst” is a form of “dare”) join with the believers in Christ.
It is fascinating that at the church at Jerusalem, for all the high praises they received from society, unbelievers didn’t typically join them. The ones who joined them were believers. For the unbelievers, the persecution was too strong, the message to strict. For the believers, however, those who dared not join with them before found themselves happily seeking them out that blessed group of God’s people.
Should it be our goal in the twenty-first century to get as many unbelievers into our churches as possible? Should we tailor our styles or customize our message in an effort to draw unbelievers in? Is the church not primarily for believers? This is plainly evident in verses 13 and 14. As the church of the living God, our primary concern should be to honor God in our church meetings and our personal lives. Towards the lost, we should love supernaturally, call unceasingly, and pray fervently. But at the same time, we should have a church that exhibits such dedication to the holy God of the Bible and His word, that people dare not join our ranks; that is, they dare not join us until they have come to know that great God and Savior Jesus Christ. I think the question must be asked: are people that know not God comfortable in your church? Are they “cool with” your faith? If that’s the case, or if that’s your goal, you are in woeful disagreement with the church that God praised in Jerusalem.
We need churches of such quality that those who don’t know God are uncomfortable with our love, loyalty, and dedication to Jesus Christ and His word! We need churches of such stature that the clear teaching of God’s word is such that those without God can’t just hide out to sit and listen. But oh the joy when those who avoided us and our Savior come looking for His people in His church after they have found Him that is altogether lovely and worthy!
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I want to bring you up-to-date on a couple of people with whom we have been working and ask you to pray for them. First of all, last time I mentioned Srey Puv. She is a Christian but she is married to a man who isn’t following the Lord at all, though at one time he used to claim (more…)