Monday, January 21, 2013

Lots of Firsts in Cambodia

By Andreas Mehrguth
Director, e3 Legacy

Our team of 21 people between ages 11 and 59 experienced lots of firsts in Cambodia: sharing the story of God’s love with people who have never heard the name of Jesus, praying with Buddhists to receive Christ, praying over someone for healing and seeing God’s miraculous power heal the person, developing a love for people in a far off Asian country who are steeped in idol worship.

Our amazing team of 42
Getting our minds around the Buddhist worldview took a few days. While we had done some study on Buddhism, each village seemed to have its own idiosyncrasies. We’ve shared the gospel on five continents and dozens of countries, but we’ve never shared with people with so many questions. It was encouraging!

So awesome having our boys with us once again
When we approached the Buddhist villagers, they were pleased to greet us and to allow us to share the story of God’s love with them. They were mesmerized by God’s love for them in sending Jesus to pay the penalty for their sin; yet, they wanted to make sure we understood that “Cambodians are Buddhists.” Finally, on Wednesday when Chante, a young mother, said, “Our ancestors were Buddhists, and so we are Buddhists,” Terri commented that just because their ancestors were Buddhists, that did not make Buddhism true. Surprisingly, she agreed. Terri then shared a story: “There was a king, and he fed his people rice. Sadly, this rice had poison in it, so whenever the people ate the rice, they died. Now, the children and grandchildren were going to eat the rice. A foreigner asked them why they were going to eat the rice when they knew that it had poison in it, and that they would die. The people all replied that they ate it because that was the way it had always been done.”  The young woman’s eyes lighted up, indicting that Terri’s story resonated with her. She continued to meet with Terri for Bible study, came to the Friday celebration, and agreed to attend church while she learned more about Jesus and then make a decision about following Him.

The intricate ancestral shrines were supposed to keep the evil spirits away
Many people wanted to follow Jesus, but they were afraid to give up Buddhism, afraid of what the spirits would do to them. That was Nit’s situation. As a 51-year old widow, she was poor and lonely with her only child living in Phnom Penh three hours away. After meeting with her daily, sometimes twice in a day to disciple her, she prayed to receive Christ on Wednesday. Thursday she said that a few of her neighbors had been mocking her all week about meeting with us and now she was only 60% sure she wanted to follow Christ. The honesty was so refreshing! By Thursday afternoon, she was ready to follow Him completely. On Friday afternoon, while a team member was discipling her neighbor Makim, Nit stormed in the house, throwing a gospel track on the table and stating, “I’m not going to follow Jesus! It’s too hard!” She went on to share that in addition to the mocking from her neighbors, she was having frightening nightmares since she had received the gospel track and she was afraid of the bad things that were going to happen to her.  This provided the team member the opportunity to explain spiritual warfare and the reality of what was happening. She was taught the truth of a loving God who wanted to protect her, that while spiritual warfare is real, Jesus is the victor and that she could trust Him. The team member went on to battle in prayer for her, asking for God’s peace to reign in her life. As that was prayed, it became immediately clear to Nit and everyone else present that she was filled with the peace of God. It was absolutely beautiful! She bowed her head and received Christ 100%!

Nit on the left and Makim meet with Terri
Cambodians, culturally speaking, do not touch, at least not in the villages where we worked. There is no hand shake, but rather a slight bend at the waist as the hands are pressed together with fingertips being placed just below the nose. Our team found that the benefit of protection from germs exchanged in a hand shake or a hug, did not outweigh people’s need to experience connectedness or love through a simple touch or pat on the back. Loneliness, compounded by the lack of touch, was evident most everywhere we ministered.

Rebecca and her translator pray over sick woman
Terri met daily with Makim, a 71-year-old widow who was desperately lonely even though she lived with 13 other people in a large, subdivided home. Finally on Friday, after many Bible studies, sometimes two a day, Makim opened up and told her story. She was widowed about six years previously. She had adopted two sons, age 23 and 18. Her 23-year-old was married, living in Phnom Penh with his wife and newborn baby, and she saw him infrequently. She then wept as she showed us a picture of her other son at his wake; he had hung himself 15 months earlier as he sat in jail after being accused of raping an eight-year-old girl in the village. Makim insisted it was impossible he could have done such a terrible thing; she remains friends with Rom and Chhor Vichea, the parents of the little girl, a couple we discipled each day. As Makim wept, Terri asked if she could touch her. When Makim agreed, Terri wrapped her arms around Makim, repeatedly kissing her on the forehead and wiping her tears away. Terri was able to share how God had seen every tear she had shed, was grieved by her loss, and wanted to be her Comforter. After 10 hours spent with her over eight visits, Makim gave her life to Christ! Yes, people need the Lord. Often they don’t realize it until we come representing the hands and feet of Jesus. It’s all so very humbling to be used by God in this way!

Makim studied for hours with Terri each day
Mouy, a godly woman who has been radically transformed by God’s grace and is living in Chante, Nit, and Makim’s village, is committed to continue to teach these women about Jesus and what it means to walk with God.  Thank you for praying, fasting, and giving, so that more than 270 Cambodians could hear about and choose to follow Jesus Christ. You will be so blessed to meet Nit and Makim someday in heaven, when they will personally thank you for being obedient to God’s call on your life. You are making a difference in the Kingdom of God! We’re privileged to know you and partner with you.


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