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Cambodia: Our First Two Years

Perseverance required 
This month marks two years of ministry for Sokha and me as a married couple in Angkjeay village. God has been gracious in sustaining us in spite of the difficulties we have faced both physically and spiritually. About nine months ago, many tall trees were cut down and electricity poles were put up along the red dirt road to Angkjeay village. 

We smiled as we thought that soon we were going to have electricity. However, nine months and counting, the electric lines have yet to be put up. Some days the poles are hopeful reminders that electricity will come to our village, but other days they cause frustration as we wonder why the wait has to be so long. It seems a fitting comparison to our church planting work in the village—some days are filled with joy as we see many signs of God's grace working in people's lives and some days are filled with frustration and disappointment as it seems like the wait to see a flourishing church plant is just too long. No doubt, church planting requires both patience and perseverance and we are in need of your prayers that God would be merciful in giving us both as we enter our third year of living and church planting in Angkjeay village.

New baptisms bring increased persecution 
This past Sunday was an exciting milestone for our church plant. This was the first time for baptisms in our church plant. Seventeen villagers were baptized and four more plan on being baptized this Sunday. These newly baptized believers need much prayer as they often face much persecution from their friends and families for believing in Christ. This past weekend, one 20-year-old girl who had planned on being baptized was forced by her mother to the leave the village and go to the city so she wouldn't be baptized. Other villagers are spreading rumors that when you get baptized, evil spirits may possess you, you will be under a spell, you will die, or you will forget your parents. But even in midst of all the lies and chaos, we see Christ faithfully building His Church. 

A snapshot of village evangelism
A few days ago we stopped by a student's home to look at the family's new house. As we sat talking to them, one of the relatives asked, "Teacher, do you offer any offerings or burn incense sticks to spirits to ask them for their permissions before you build something?" Sokha was thrilled to have the opportunity to answer such a question. It is uncommon for people to ask questions about our God. 

Sokha began, "I believe our God is the creator of all. He is also a spirit, but he created the rest of the spirits. He is more powerful than them all. So asking Him for protection and help is all I need.” She went on to explain that the spirits this family worshiped were fallen angels who had rebelled against God. “They are not here to protect us, but to harm us and make our lives more miserable. They want us to end up in hell with them." 

The woman and the rest of her family who were there said, "What you've said is reasonable. What freedom you have as a Christian! I have to offer incense to the spirits of my dead ancestors and consult with fortune tellers before I do anything. I actually wanted to buy a truck, but the fortune teller asked me to wait for five years. He said if I bought it now, I would become poor." This lady's beliefs are fairly typical of most people in the village. 

Please pray that we will have continued evangelistic opportunities and that the Holy Spirit would be at work to free many from the bonds of Satan and sin. As Sokha and I enter our third year of church planting in Cambodia, pray that we would persevere with faith, and that in the midst of discouragement and frustration, we would clearly see the kingdom that God is actively building in Angkjeay village. 

Luke and Sokha Smith are MTW missionaries serving in Cambodia. For more on the work in Cambodia visit www.plantingcambodia.com.
Luke Smith, Phnom Penh Cambodia Oct 10, 2013
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Pray for God to raise up summer interns to serve on the field, and for Him to work powerfully in and through them while they serve.

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