Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Vannak's Transformation Story

Vannak with village chief of Om Pouprey, Kandal District
Photo by Amanda King

Life full of misery and suffering started on January 08, 1989. It was the time that my sincere mother delivered a newborn baby to this world. Being the firstborn child in a Chinese family was a tragedy for me. My presence in this world scared the hell out of my grandmother because she had never expected that her first grandchild would be a girl. My father is the eldest son in the Chinese family, whereas my mother was born to a family of Cambodian farmers. Obviously, my parents are completely different in terms of family background and concepts, and I wondered how they met and fell for each other. All of my grandparents from both sides passed away during the Pol Pot regime, except my Chinese grandmother, who passed away just a few years ago. Since my father is the first and the only son in the family, he naturally became the most important person and it should have been more likely that his children would be loved as well, but that’s not the case.

From the time I was born until now, I had no ideas why my grandmother hated my mother and me very much. My world was filled with hate and jealousy. I was shaped to hate and to be hated. I’ve done many things in hopes that I could earn my grandmother and my father’s love. I always thought being a good child and good student would change their minds. My mother was working very hard to help my father support the family since we were very poor, and she expected that her mother-in-law would see and support everything she did. However, it didn’t matter how hard we tried, my grandmother never changed her mind.

The words my grandmother used most frequently with me were “STUPID” and “CRAZY.” She always said, “You are just like your mother, stupid as always! You are a girl with no brain! I don’t understand why you can’t be a little smarter, why don’t you take your brother and your cousins as a sample?” My father had the same thought as my grandmother, and I was shit in his eyes. It hurt when my grandmother put all the blame on me. Even when I didn't do anything wrong, my father would just agree with what she said and hit me with the stick without asking a word.

I always wore the same old clothes for many years and never asked for new ones because I knew my parents were poor. I used the candlelight to read the books because I wanted to save electricity. I didn’t buy anything to eat at school because I was afraid I would waste my parents’ money, but no one knew.

Life moved on and I got used to my grandmother and my father’s behavior. I finally gave up begging them for love and care. I put all of my effort and energy into studying. I studied hard — not because I wanted them to love me, but for my own future. I would make them see that I’m not stupid or crazy as they thought.

My effort paid off, yet it wasn’t recognized. I was applying for a scholarship at two different universities after I passed the National High School Examination. Unfortunately, my GPA was a bit lower than the requirement, and I was rejected for the scholarship program at one of the well-known universities. I got a scholarship from the other university but it was not where my father wanted me to pursue my higher education. I’m a bit upset but also happy because I already tried my best. While most of my friends were having a party (even though they didn’t receive any scholarships), I was worrying what would happen when my parents learned about my results. Instead of having a party, I was scolded by my parents. I locked myself in the room and thought of what I had done wrong. I had no choice but I was forced to follow and study the subject I hated: Accounting.

When I was a senior at university, I got a part-time job. Life was getting harder and harder for me. I was very stressed because of work, study, family and friends. I got sick, and everything was almost destroyed because of my sickness. I was diagnosed with heart disease, but I was not allowed to know what the real problem was. Everyone, including the doctor, was trying to hide the fact and kept telling me I would be fine, yet I felt there was something wrong in me. After a few weeks at the hospital, my mother brought me home, but I don’t feel better at all. Though I received a lot of treatment, I still felt weak and had trouble breathing as before.

A few days later, the old symptoms came back. I felt my heart was beating too fast. I couldn’t breathe through my nose. My vision was blurred, and I couldn’t see anything clear — not even my mum’s face. I felt that every part of my body was not functioning properly, but I could hear my father very clearly when he shouted at my mother. He got very angry when he heard I was sick again. He said he spent a lot of money for the treatment last time and if he takes me to the hospital again, he will spend all his money and maybe he has to sell all the property. I heard my mother cry and say she didn’t care how much it cost, that she would sell everything to pay for my treatment.
I couldn’t express in words how I felt when I heard what he said. It was too painful to accept. Death was the only thing I could think of since I felt my heart had already stopped beating. I closed my eyes slowly and said, “I’m going.” Suddenly, I felt death was moving toward me, and I had nothing to be afraid of. Once I died, I would have no more pain and I would be in peace forever.

While I was thinking about how happy I would be after death, I heard my brother crying and saying, “Please don’t close your eyes! Please wake up! Please! Please go to the hospital! Please, I beg you! Please don’t die! I will do everything for you! I love you!” I remembered every single word he said, and I had never thought my life meant this much to him. I was touched by his words, but I still couldn’t open my eyes.

The next thing I knew, I was in the hospital. I was back to life. The first people I saw were my mother and my brother, who slept by my bed and held my hand. My heart ached every time I saw my father, but I didn’t hate him. Since I am an atheist, I don’t believe in any gods or any spirituality. I had never worshipped Buddha or prayed to Jesus, but after I woke up, I said silently to myself, “God, I still don’t understand why you give me a chance to come back to this world, but with whatever reasons I will use my new life wisely. I promise you, I will be happy.” To fulfill my commitment, I try to study and work twice harder than ever after I left the hospital, which made my mum very worried about my health, yet I was fine.

The new adventure of my life began right after I graduated in late 2009 and got a full-time job in 2010. Actually, I had been working for CHAD (Community Health and Agricultural Development) since 2008 as part-time staff, but I was chosen to serve as Administrator in late 2010. Translation is what I hate most in my job description. I have practically a million reasons to refuse to travel to the field to do translation. It’s a pressure for me to meet with the churches, because they often think I’m a Christian, even though I’m not. Sometimes, I feel guilty that I can’t show my identity to them. I feel like I’m a liar. However, I got a lot of support and encouragement from my team. They treat me as a member in the family and give me many opportunities to see the different world.

I remember the first time I went to Kratie to translate for a medical team from Rocky Mountain, U.S., I kept complaining about the patients and how difficult it was to communicate with them. I kept saying, “I hate to work with them. I’ve tried very hard to explain it to them, but they still don’t understand.” I even said I couldn’t tell whether I was talking to a tree or a human. I made comments about how I was about to throw up because of their bad smell, but I never stopped to think why they are like that. One of my teammates asked me to reflect what I learned from this trip, and I quickly responded, “It was terrible, and I learned nothing.” At first, I don’t think I learned anything. I thought it was tiring and a waste of time to work with those uneducated people.

Before I left for Phnom Penh, one of the patients came to me and said, “Thank you so much for your translation. Without you, I would have had no idea how to tell the doctor about my sickness. You are very kind. You are about my daughter’s age, but you are much better than her. You are young, but you can speak English very well. I would be very happy if I could send my children to school as your parents do, then they would have a good job and a bright future like you.”

I was very impressed and touched by her words. Many things came up in my mind, and I was thinking about her words all the way home. I couldn’t imagine how my life would be if I were one of her children. I wouldn’t have a job as I do today if I hadn’t attended school. I might have had to work in a garment factory for little pay to support the family just like them. I would have died when I was sick if I hadn’t had access to the health center. I would have starved to death if I had no food. I would have been beaten if I had been born into a violent family.

All of these possibilities would be worse than what I was facing. So why did I always complain about my life when some people wished to be just like me? I felt like I had just woken from the nightmare. Everything was clear and possible for me. I felt great and ready to learn new things. I started to listen to people and open my mind to see the world in a different way. I started to be positive and trust people; I started to talk to people and be friends with them; and I started to share my worries and fears with my colleagues and friends. My family, my friends and my colleagues noticed the change in me. I love to work with the community unlike before, and I am happy to see their progress. I become a source of ideas for my mother and a role model for my brother.

Moreover, I’ve noticed the change in my father. He has started to listen to me and agree with me in some points. One day, he came to me and asked whether I had time to talk with him. I had a strange feeling about it, but I couldn’t guess what he wanted. He started the conversation by asking me what my goal in life is — something I had never expected to hear from him. I was kind of shocked to hear his question, but I acted as normal and told him what I wanted to achieve in the future. He smiled after I finished and said, “I know you work very hard and suffer a lot from the past. I see the pain in you, but I don’t know how to express my feelings toward you. I know I’m not a good father, and I know you hate me. I just want to let you know that you are not rubbish in my eyes, but you are my eyes. Honestly, I’m really proud of you, I have no idea how you define success for yourself, but, to me, you are already a very successful person. I do appreciate your effort and patience. Thank you for being a good child for me and your mother and a good sister for your brother.”

I guess no one understood how I felt at that time. My heart almost stopped beating, and I suddenly burst into tears. I couldn’t say anything — not even a word — because I was too excited. I had never dreamed of hearing all those words from his mouth. Finally, I showed my father and everyone that I wasn’t just a girl without brain, but a girl with a smart brain. I feel that my life is now full of blessing. I have a good job. I have a chance to pursue my master’s degree, and I have a warm family.

I should be thankful for the pain and hate in the past because they made me who I am today. They were some of the most important factors that pushed me to strive for the best in life, yet I don’t believe in making people suffer in order to push them to success because some people couldn’t bear the pain and would make a wrong decision, such as committing suicide or running away from home. Different people have different perspectives and responses to the same situation. I’ve learned many things in life — through all the pain, joy, success, failure, hate, love, and everything I’ve faced — and I realize that life is beautiful. People just have to dig out its beauty.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger because you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they protect me. Psalm 23:4

Be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead!
Vannak Huot, CHAD Office Manager 

The Story of Four in Chhoeung Prey Church

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5

On Tuesday, June 26, 2012, Irene Mparutsa, Sophal Sok, an impromptu translator David, and I visited a few villagers of Chhoeung Prey Church in Kandal Province. For the past several years, CHAD has been working closely with these villagers who are members and leaders of this local Methodist church. CHAD financially and agriculturally supports and practically advises them through the community’s rice bank. On that day, we had the privilege of meeting and interviewing four leaders in their newly elected rice bank group committee:

Outsan: The Establishment of the Church

One day, in the early- to mid-1990s, Outsan’s son was really sick and his uncle took him to the hospital. Ever since he recovered from his sickness, he worked in the field and took care of cows. On a random day, when there was a downpour of rain, he took cover in a nearby shelter, only to have found a Bible. Reading the living Word of God, the Lord softened his heart to desire to know Him more; he wanted to know the meaning of these parables, these commandments, the Gospel, the Good News. Sharing his desiring heart to know who God is—who Jesus is—with his uncle, his uncle knew of a local church and sent him there. Eventually, with his gifts in music, he used them to serve in the church worship team by playing all kinds of instruments, such as guitar and flute.

A few years later, he travelled to Phnom Penh and attended a Khmer church called New Life Fellowship. He had hoped to start a new life there, but in 1997, there was a clash between two parties: the Cambodian People’s Party and FUNCINPEC Party. The result of this political conflict led many people, including Outsan’s son, to flee from Phnom Penh to his childhood village where he continued to work faithfully for the Lord by evangelizing to the villagers, joyfully sharing the Gospel and the Good News with them. In that same year, as he shared with his mother that he wants to start a church, Outsan, 68, was convicted by the Spirit to sacrifice her home to be a home church, which is now Chhoeung Prey Church.

When they first started the church in 1997, there were 180 adults who came out to the worship service. Right now, in the year of 2012, there are 30-40 members in the church. They believe that the cause of this huge decrease in church attendees is twofold: (1) the home church, now, leaks when it rains, and (2) they don’t serve a lot of food and beverages anymore before or after service. Despite any possible reason for the decrease in church attendees and regardless of the number of people in the church—whether there are 200 or 2—we are called to “worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth” [John 4:23] both “in season and out of season” [2 Timothy 4:2] and to work faithfully [Matthew 25:14-30], for the Lord our God alone saves the lost by faith alone in the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit with His sovereign grace alone.

Please pray for the following:
  • For Outsan’s vision to eventually build a children’s center, a computer teacher, an English teacher, and to host weddings in their new church building that is currently being built right now;
  • For the young pastor who is serving in Chhoeung Prey Church;
  • To not be discouraged by the number of church attendees, but to be faithful in worshiping and loving God;
  • For her youngest son Bakaran to have the diligence and faithfulness to work hard to go to a university; and
  • For Outsan’s health.

Veasna: The Miracle of a Changed Heart and Mind

When Veasna, 32, was suffering from heart disease and hepatitis B, CHAD helped him to go to Cooperative Services International (CSI) Mercy Medical Center, where he felt loved and respected. He shared that if he was at another hospital like Calmette Hospital, they would have asked him to pay first before they treat him. However, CSI, which is a Christian hospital, seeks to treat all patients whether they can pay on the spot or not. While he experienced all of this when he was a nonbeliever, he came to know the love of Christ through these doctors and nurses, and he committed to following Christ in March 2012. Praise God!

He also informed us that he is illiterate. So, I asked him how he first came to hear of the Gospel and the Good News. He shared that when he attended Chhoeung Prey Church as a nonbeliever, he had heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the pastor’s sermons and by talking to Outsan. Moreover, he asks his children to read the Bible to him so he can learn more about the Word. Hallelujah! There is such a strong need for discipleship among the churches and pastors in Cambodia. And we can only praise God for using such unworthy people with inadequate abilities to help others see the glory and holiness of God. God alone is good! [Mark 10:17-18; Romans 3:10-18]

Puong Sreang: Hope for Her Husband’s Salvation in Christ

Puong Sreang, 56, gave her life to follow Jesus Christ after an encounter with a group of pastors called Hope Organization. She eventually went to study the Bible at Hope in Phnom Penh for three months, but came back on behalf of her husband’s wishes. She’s the only one in her family who believes in Christ. But she believes that God is slowly working in her husband. He stopped burning incense sticks and worshipping ancestors, but is still hesitant.

Please pray for the following:
  • For God to bless the community. As the chairperson of the rice bank, she hopes to increase the rice bank;
  • To grow in faith;
  • For physical healing. She has diabetes and an upset stomach; and
  • For God to meet her husband in a newer and greater way.

Ttoi Sietnim: Christ as Yahweh and the Ultimate Healer

Ttoi Sietnim is Outsan’s daughter and is currently a rice bank committee member. Before she met Christ, it was hard for her to forgive others. She was easily selfish, bitter, frustrated, and angry. She also didn’t know that Jesus was God and that He can give peace in the midst of her family struggles. But when she met Christ, she repented and now knows that He is the only true God, the creator of the heavens and the earth, the ultimate Healer. Praise God! In 2000, she worked with a multi-national team from several Southeast Asian countries to evangelize to factory female workers.

Please pray for the following:
  • To serve in the children’s ministry once it is established;
  • For her son to gain knowledge of English so he can ultimately study in Phnom Penh; and
  • For her and her family, particularly her husband who is not a believer yet; for her husband to stop drinking.

Pray much for the members and leaders of Chhoeung Prey Church. Let’s pray that the church would continue to worship in spirit and in truth both in season and out of season.

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. 3 John 1:2

In His love and for His glory,
CHAD Summer 2012 Intern,
Michael Oh

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cruz Journal - Summer 2012 Missionary Newsetter from Ken Cruz

Reflections on Missions as Transformation
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” Matthew 6:9-10
The Lord’s Prayer about the coming of God’s Kingdom to earth I believe is the most compelling message that we followers of Christ can share with others. Yet, it seems that it is the least understood truth in church mission and evangelism work in Cambodia. If properly understood I believe this holds the key to the Church’s role in transforming Cambodian society plagued by endemic corruption, poverty, materialism, inequality, hopelessness, social injustices, and environmental degradation.

Still in its growing stages, the Methodist Church in Cambodia is humbly rediscovering the true meaning of preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God through our holistic approach to mission and evangelism. Our journey in recovering the “kingdom mentality” is not without growing pains, bumps and pot holes. But our journey is worth taking. Majority of 160 local Methodist congregations are now actively involved in addressing various social concerns issues with their respective communities.

We have also witnessed so many signs of God’s unfolding Kingdom through our various works in church-based relief and development. Through health programs sick people have been healed and communities now have increased access to clean water. Our agriculture programs are increasing local food supplies while our income generation activities continue to diversity and expand income sources for families. Similarly, our transformational leadership development training significantly improved the collective capacity of churches and communities in addressing social concerns issues and promoting local initiatives for change.

Our influence extends from the villages all the way up to decision-makers at provincial government agencies. Our network of partners who help us carry out holistic ministries with the poor and the needy come from diverse backgrounds, churches and nationalities. Thus, giving everyone a chance to share or use their God-given gifts and talents. Through acts of mercy, kindness and justice, many Methodist congregations in Cambodia are proclaiming the Kingdom of God that is here and now—not in a distant place or time like many of us tend to believe.

Bearing witness of God’s Kingdom unfolding reminds us that as we seek His Kingdom and his righteousness we can expect God to multiply the impact of our efforts even in our failures!

Changha Village Rice Seed Bank Group posing with bags of rice seeds from UMCOR.
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him...” I Peter 2:9
Celebrations & Prayer Requests
  • Praise God for the growing interest of many local churches in addressing social concerns issues.
  • Praise the Lord for new covenant relationships.
  • Praise the Lord for the opportunity to teach leadership and transformation- al development at the Cambodian Methodist Bible School.
  • Praise God for the growing number of people and communities the CHAD program serves.
  • Pray for our CHAD team as we are facing some growing pains with our work- ing relationship with the Social Concerns Committee.
  • Pray continually for my wife Jomil’s health. 
  • Pray also for my safety as I frequently travel for out of town project visits. 
  • Pray also for God’s wisdom as I prepare for my half yearly work plan. 
  • Finally, I want to praise God for your faithfulness and commitment to this partnership in mission.
Personal note from the fieldTo see the hands of God working through our partnership in bringing the Good News of His Kingdom to the hopeless is humbling. We consider this a great privilege. As your missionaries, we are constantly reminded how gracious is our God is to entrust to someone as frail and as weak like us the restoration of His fallen creation.

As long as we allow God to mold and shape our being into His likeness, we will remain a mighty tool in His hands capable of doing things we would otherwise be unable to do. We believe God calls each of one us to proclaim His Kingdom wherever we are and whatever we do in life. And we hope you will also experience the incredible joy of seeing God’s Kingdom transforming you and the people around you.

We all love you with the love of the Lord!
Your grateful partners in Christ,
Ken, Jomil, Kim and Kyle Cruz

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cruz Journal - Spring 2012 Missionary Newsetter from Ken Cruz

Reflections on Missions as Transformation
“In that day each of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and fig tree,” declares the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 3:10

I always thank God for putting me in the field of church-based community transformation. Many times I have witnessed how relationships transform people in the church and their neighbors into a community of shalom. One lesson I have learned about building transformational relationship is that we have to be receptive to the positive influence of those who do not share the same faith as us.

I believe that God called us—His church, to establish transforming relationships with our community with intentionality and humility. However, it is often the people in the church that form the greatest stumbling blocks for their neighbors. I often see churches exert a form of spiritual “superiority complex” that alienates them from their neighbors whom they consider “untrustworthy” due to perceived lack of spirituality or weak personal character. These attitudes only create more barriers between the church members and community.

Breaking this negative mindset is the key to church transformational mandate. Only when church members make themselves vulnerable to the influence of their neighbors can we build the foundation for developing mutually beneficial relationships. Recently, I noticed that this negative attitude of our churches towards the participation of their neighbors in church-sponsored community development projects has changed.

I have seen churches like Changha Methodist Church in Banteay Meanchey province and Peak Kdei Methodist Church in Battambang province that now openly and sincerely seek the participation of their neighbors. These neighbors are now the ones who are promoting unity and cooperation in their communities. Sadly, some churches who still avoid working with their neighbors tend to heighten the animosity and distrust between the church and their community. But churches that share responsibility and leadership with their neighbors are the ones who truly influence and attract the non-church people to join ranks with them in their community transformation work.

Ken with Chan Tin, village chief of Changha, one of the growing number of non-church people elected as leaders of church-initiated project groups
In my experience, it is when we—followers of Christ, allow ourselves to be led by our neighbors that our relationships become transformative!

Celebrations and Prayer Requests
  • Praise the God for completing another year of service as GBGM missionary!
  • Praise the Lord for another year of fruitful covenant relationships with individuals and churches.
  • Praise the Lord for the increasing involvement of the local Methodist churches in relief and disaster work in Cambodia.
  • Pray that God will lead my son Kim to the job where he will grow and glorify the Lord.
  • Pray for wisdom and guidance for all the churches that work with CHAD as they expand the scope of their community development program implementation.
  • Pray for my wife Jomil’s complete healing from her traumatic experience with bag snatchers while riding a bicycle on streets of Phnom Penh.
  • Finally, I want to thank God for all your prayers for my family and our ministry with the poor in Cambodia.
Personal Note From the Field

Completing another year of service gives me reason to celebrate God’s goodness and faithfulness. None of the things I have accomplished would have been possible if not for God’s sustaining power and your faithful partnership.

Once again I am privileged to have witnessed so many transformations in the lives of the people we serve. They are the living testimony of how our partnership is impacting our world.

My family and I are extremely humbled by the trust you have given us. As we start another year of partnership I am excited to see how God will transform each one of us so that His name will be glorified in our midst. It is a privilege and honour for us to be your ambassadors to the Khmer people.

May God’s abiding presence go before us!
Your grateful partners in Christ,

Ken, Jomil, Kim and Kyle Cruz

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Irene's Spring Updates

In 1912, my father was one of the first Zimbabweans to be ordained. Now, a century later, my family celebrates its 100th year of officially serving God in the Methodist Church! Returning home and attending Annual Conference this past winter inspired me to reflect on what I can still learn from my father’s position as both a tribal and spiritual leader in our community and, ultimately, how I can continue his legacy. The following stories capture some ways I have tried to answer that question this Spring. Thank you for your committed interest and support of my ministry.

Training in Kandal
This past January, we held training for members of a cow group and a rice bank group in Kandal province. Since many of the participants could not read and write, we told stories to explain the purpose of Christ’s church in the world rather than rely on our written manuals. People’s eyes lit up as they actively engaged with the material and with each other in small groups. Even though we have not yet completed the training, we know that the Holy Spirit is working in that community! We were so humbled to see those who could not read the Bible take hold of a different kind of opportunity to discover their true identity in Christ.

Irene with rice bank group in Kandal province

Commitment to a Difference      
Dr. Chery Meylick Casanova of the Rocky Mountain Conference came back to Cambodia in January to continue work she started two years ago. She worked at the provincial hospital and two health centers, training medical personnel in diagnosis and treatment of diabetes and hypertension. On her departure to the US, she shared with me her desire to make her work have a lasting impact in Cambodia. True to her commitment to make a difference, she has pledged to come back once a year at the request of the Provincial Director.
Home Leave in Zimbabwe
When I attended my annual conference in Zimbabwe, I realized the similarity between the needs we have in Cambodia and the needs back home, which was not the case over a decade ago. Now, returning to work, I wrestle with how to carry on the vision of health care as an integral part of church ministry, distinct from the care given by NGOs; because there is a distinction: Our mission is so much more than a mere  job – it is about continuing the work that Jesus began.
CHAD Staff Retreat
In February, we had a three-day retreat for CHAD staff. It was a priceless gift to interact with each other across the cultural spectrum and to appreciate different world views and their influence on our relationships. We learnt, laughed, played games and got to know each other more clearly. .Even now, reflecting on that week, I can see how our team dynamics are changing.
Virginia Team Visit
When a Virginia team visited Cambodia in March, I was blessed to show them some of our projects. We shared our passions about the mission of the church in medical care, maternal health, and especially  prenatal care. We even were given the opportunity at the MEDICAM conference to raise awareness of a critically important issue in Cambodia: how to increase pregnant women’s access to hospitals for safer  childbirth. Since one of the team nurses is involved in medical missions in Zimbabwe, spending time with her also allowed me to learn more about what  is happening in health care back home, reaffirming my resolve to continue my work here and ultimately in Zimbabwe.
Visiting with the Virginia team also gave me an opportunity to say “thank you” to the United Methodist Women’s groups in Virginia that support me in our ministry in Cambodia. I am blessed to have spent time with the group while they visited.
Prayer and Healing Seminar
A prayer and healing seminar held in Phnom Penh this March invited me both to grow and to consider how prayer and healing could be incorporated into our healthcare ministry. The seminar inspired me to continue learning more. Through this seminar, I came to appreciate how the church in Cambodia can do more particularly through Good Samaritans training - health volunteers who work alongside pastors here, to care for the poor.
Transition at Prektoal Church
The change of leadership at Prektoal Church has posed a challenge with regards to the progress of the program. The main issue is whether or not non church members should be involved in project activities. This is a major challenge for us as one of our core values in CHAD is for the church to engage and include the community in projects. Pray for the leadership to live the gospel by embracing all regardless of their beliefs.
Looking Forward
From this second quarter of 2012, we are looking forward to strengthening our work in three areas. We need to centralize the co-ordination of the UMVIM medical teams that come to help us in order to ensure equitable access to their expertise and care by all our districts. We need to intensify our efforts to work with communities in disease prevention and health promotion on issues such as malaria, HIV prevention and water and sanitation. Our work in CHAD has grown in leaps and bounds and there is therefore an urgent need for us to recruit more staff for both administration and field work.
We are deeply thankful for the generous gift we have received during this quarter from Long’s Peak Methodist Church in Colorado.
Many Blessings,
Irene Mparutsa

May the Lord keep us true and faithful to the work that He has called us to.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Living in the Power of the Resurrection

Dear friends,

Do you remember the story of the centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant? It is a story of amazingly strong, yet simple, faith. Jesus hears that a centurion’s servant is sick, so he goes to visit him. But even before Jesus can reach the house, the centurion sends word to say, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Even Jesus is amazed! He tells the crowd, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then the men who had been sent return to the house and find the servant well (Luke 7:2-10).

In my twelve years of working in Cambodia, I have rarely witnessed such faith. This is Yep’s story.

A handsome 7-year-old Herod
The first time Yep brought her daughter Chhab to us was in 2004, when Yep asked her local church to pray for her daughter who had been married for several years yet still had not had a baby. We all prayed, and then we took her daughter to the hospital, where she was treated for an infection. Shortly, she became pregnant and had a son, Herod.

Two years ago Chhab got sick again with rheumatoid arthritis. She received treatment at a local hospital for two years, but medication side effects were slowly killing her. Her mother knew Phnom Penh Hospital could give her further treatment, but her church, family, and community thought Yep was crazy to try to take her to Phnom Penh; Chhab was so weak, she would surely die along the way. Yep stood firm. “If it is God’s will for her to live, she will live. Her life is in God’s hands.”

Chhab, Herod, and Yep
Chhab and her mother made the 7-hour trip to Phnom Penh, where she was treated and released after three weeks. As they were preparing to return home, I asked Yep, “Do people at home know you are coming back?” Yep answered, “I’m not telling them. I want them to see for themselves. They won’t believe it.”

Such simple faith, but Jesus called it “great.” Yep’s faith is also unique here in Cambodia. Instead of resorting to the many rituals that the majority of Cambodian families engage in to increase a woman’s fertility, she called upon her church to pray and praised God for healing Chhab through the local doctors’ diagnosis and treatment. Then, undeterred by her own community’s unbelief, she brought Chhab to doctors in Phnom Penh, understanding that if God wanted Chhab to live, God would work through the medical staff in Phnom Penh.

I think Yep makes such a vivid impression on me because Yep understands that God does miraculously heal people through prayer, but sometimes, he miraculously heals through doctors and medicine, too.

Yep’s faith for her daughter is just like the centurion’s faith for his servant. They simply believed that God would heal them, and God did. Yep’s faith is simple, but because it is so simple and pure, it shines with the power of the resurrection. As Paul puts it in Ephesians, God wants us to know his “incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead” (Ephesians 1:19-20). I have been so blessed to witness such simple faith as Yep’s this Easter season. The power of her faith isindeed the power of the resurrection, and her simple faith is a living witness to Jesus Christ for us all.

Thank you for all your prayers and support. May Yep encourage us all to open our hearts to receive this power of the resurrection in our lives.

In His Love,