Friday, December 31, 2010

What's That Stuff Down There?

A joke to end the year with a smile...

An airplane was flying low over the hills of Athens. A teenaged girl looked out the window and then asked her dad, "What is that stuff on those hills down there?"

"That's snow" he replied.

She gave a little snort, leaned close to her dad and whispered, "That's what I thought, but I just heard that guy in the next row say it was grease!"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Celebrating Christmas In Cambodia

1. There is nothing special about the colors green and red.

2. You have to spray down your gingerbread house with Raid to make sure the ants, roaches, and lizards don't carry it away during the night.

3. You can go Christmas caroling in your flip-flops if you want to.

4. Your church members are more likely to give you a bunch of bananas than a coffee mug or tie.

5. All the wrapping paper has pink bunnies in Santa hats and very touching statements like: "Congratulations my lovely friend every day for a Happy Christmas".

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Come Boldly

I greatly appreciate the other Baptist missionaries here in Cambodia with whom I am privileged to work.  This morning 5 of us met for a time of prayer, which we generally do once a month. I always enjoy the prayer meetings with the other men, but was especially moved this morning by some of the testimonies of recently answered prayers.

First of all, one of the men led off with a brief challenge from the Word of God about the significance and the value of corporate prayer. Then one of the other men shared a testimony which was such a challenge to each of us that I want to share it with the readers of this blog. His testimony is relayed below:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

This is the final post of Anniversary Month at The Missionary Memo. I have enjoyed sharing special memories, pictures, and articles with you. Thank you to everyone who took the time to leave a kind comment or write a friendly email. You have encouraged us. I especially want to thank those of you who encouraged my children with your comments. They have read them all and I know that they feel loved and special. I want to close this special month by saying thank you to each and every person who has ever prayed for us or supported our ministry financially. Your sacrifice of time and treasure has made a difference in many lives, including our own.

Years ago I read a poem written by a good friend and fellow-missionary here in Cambodia, Tim Stephens. I remember how moved I was the first time I read it, and I have saved it all these years. Last month I asked Bro. Stephens if he would let me use this poem during our Anniversary Month, and he graciously agreed.  This poem is dedicated to each church, pastor, and individual who has partnered with us for the lost of Cambodia in the last 10 years.

Guest Preacher Series (Rodney Ruppel)

Last Wednesday night was our final guest speaker in our recent series. We have really enjoyed having these various men come in and preach, and we ended the series with my very good friend, Missionary Rodney Ruppel.

I love Bro. Ruppel's testimony, because it exemplifies the true 180 degree change that should be affected in a person's life when they come to know the Lord. Rodney was not raised in church, but when he was about 12 years old, his dad decided he needed to get his kids in church. After trying out different churches, he settled in at an Assembly of God church which Rodney didn't seem to mind so much. The reason...the pastor's son listened to all the same rock music that Rodney loved.  Not long after they started going there, Rodney's dad took him to First Baptist Church of Bridgeport, pastored by RB Oulette. Rodney did NOT like that church! He says it seemed like the pastor was preaching directly at him. After going there for awhile, the Holy Spirit convicted his heart and he finally trusted Christ as Savior. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Tribute To My Best Friend

Warning: If you don't like mushy and sentimental stuff, don't read this. If you don't think it is right to lavish praise upon a person, don't read this. This post is simply the reflections of one very happily married man about the wonderful person that God gave him to be his wife. You have been warned.

Fall of 2009
When I was a teen boy and later a Bible college student I remember that many of the guys (including me) had Proverbs 18:22 as their life's verse. "Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD." Now as I approach 14 years of marriage I find that I believe that verse more wholeheartedly than I ever did before. Back then, I HOPED I could find a good wife. Now I KNOW that I have found one! As we celebrate 10 years on the mission field, I want to take a few minutes to pay tribute to my very best friend, my beautiful wife, Angela.

I thought about doing an interview like I did with my kids, but that is just not her style. She doesn't like to talk about herself, and doesn't like public attention. So instead of an interview, I decided to just write from my own heart about who she is and what she means to me. So without further ado, here are a few of the reasons why I love my wife. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

God's Answer For Perilous Times (by Pastor Robert Benefield)

Circumstances, tragic events, and world-wide catastrophies in recent times have caused most of us to stop and ponder our lives, our ministries, and the future of our world. We are reminded in II Timothy Chapter 3 that as we live out the last days “perilous times shall come”. This world in which we live is filled with peril. Peril is defined as “dangerous and full of risk.” The only things that are certain in this world are the truths that we find in the pages of God’s holy and perfect book, His Word. In times of peril, God’s Word is our source of hope. In a perilous world, the Bible is the only source of true hope and comfort that can be found.

In these perilous times, we have front-line soldiers of hope carrying the Word of God around the world. I’m not suggesting that we are doing all we should, or that we are having the impact that would be sufficient to meet every need. However, as I’ve pondered recent events, I’ve been thankful for the efforts being made by our front-line soldiers that we call missionaries. Preachers of the gospel carrying the message of hope to a world in peril.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have never posted a video on my blog before, but I came across this today and just had to share it. The first few moments are a little slow moving and very corny, BUT at about the 5:00 minute mark this becomes a very awesome video. It brought tears to my eyes as I considered how good God has been to my family and I. I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sorrow With No Hope

Soldiers unload caskets as people in the background identify bodies.

Yesterday was without a doubt the saddest day in our 10 years of living in Cambodia. Monday night at the conclusion of the annual Water Festival there was a deadly stampede on a bridge which killed close to 400 people and injured nearly twice that many. I won't take the time or the space here to retell the story of what happened, because anyone reading this blog has likely already read or seen the story on any number of international news outlets. Thus far I have not seen anything in the news that was at odds with what we are hearing locally. But rather than retell the story, I want to just share some things that are on my heart.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Guest Preacher Series (Brother Proh)

God gave us another wonderful and challenging time in the Word of God tonight. Our guest preacher was very special to me because, unlike all the other guests, he was not yet saved the first time I met him.

When Proh was a teenager, his niece tried to tell him the little bit she knew about salvation and Jesus Christ. She told him that if he did not get saved, he would go to the Lake of Fire. Proh laughed. He said he knew that wasn't true, because lakes are supposed to have water in them...not fire. Three years later, one day he was inside his house in Phnom Penh when he heard someone speaking really bad Khmer to some people outside his front door. That someone was me! January of 2001, Brother John Kenderdine and myself started going out a couple afternoons a week passing out Gospels of John. John had only been in Cambodia for 8 months, and I had been here for 2 months. I could say almost nothing in Khmer, and John's language ability wasn't that great yet either. But we were just both so anxious to get the Gospel out to people that we went out and did the best we could. It was during this time that I came across Proh's house and invited him to church using my extremely limited and "really bad" Khmer! I believe he was the 1st adult that I ever got to come to church!

Monday, November 15, 2010

You Might Be a Missionary Kid If...

Missionary Kids (MK's) are unique! If you are an MK, you know that. If you have ever known an MK, you undoubtedly know it too! Without even trying, their life is just different from the norm. Some people seem to pity Missionary Kids for all the things they have supposedly given up. Yes, it is true that they give up some things when they leave America and go to live in a foreign land, but don't feel sorry for them! Missionary Kids have a life of adventure about which most kids can only dream. 

A few years ago I was introduced to a hilarious article called "You Might Be A Missionary Kid If..." I have since read many versions of this article in books, websites, and emails. I really don't know who came up with the very first one, but obviously many people have added their own wit and wisdom to the list over time. I want to share some of our favorites in the first half of this article. But even if you have already read these somewhere else, you need to read on to the end. Why? Because Angela and I (with a little input from the kids) have come up with our very own list of how to know if you are a Missionary Kid.

Seth Josiah Benefield

Over the last several weeks I have sat down with each of my children and interviewed them for our Anniversary Month. Angela and I have been blessed with awesome kids, and I want our friends and supporters to have a chance to know them better. Since Seth only knows a few words, I have asked the rest of the family to help prepare his article.

Riding in a tuk tuk to go get his first haircut, November 2010
Seth was our 4th child to be born at the Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Seth is 15 months old, but none of our family in the U.S. has met him personally yet. He will be just a couple months shy of 2 years old when he makes his first trip to the United States. Can't wait for grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins to meet him!

Gabriella Faith Benefield

Over the last several weeks I have sat down with each of my children and interviewed them for our Anniversary Month. Angela and I have been blessed with awesome kids, and I want our friends and supporters to have a chance to know them better. Although Gabriella talks non-stop from morning until night, she is not quite ready to be answering many interview question, so I have asked the rest of the family to help put Gabby's article together.

July 2010
Gabby was born in Tulare, California, while we were on our last furlough. She was a beautiful baby, and has only gotten prettier over these last 2 and a half years. About a year ago when she graduated from a crib to a toddler bed, she used to love to get up in the middle of the night and go to mommy and daddy's bed. It was always a big production, sometimes taking two or three trips to get her whole entourage of teddy bears, baby dolls, blankets, and pillows into our room. She never cried or asked for help...just went back and forth bringing stuff in until she had everything she wanted.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Guest Preacher Series (Ray Shull)

Last night we had Missionary Ray Shull as our guest speaker. Bro. Shull and his family spent a couple of years helping in our church several years ago, so this was a reunion of sorts for some of our long-time members. I was so glad that Mrs. Shull and their daughter, Becca, came with him too. Besides preaching, Bro. Shull also sang a special with his wife at the piano, and did a tremendous job! Our folks love special music, so this was an extra treat!

Bro. Shull was raised in a Christian home in Stockton, California, and was saved as a young teenager. After high school, he attended the Pacific Coast Baptist Bible College where he graduated in 1980. Over the next 20+ years he served as both a pastor and an assistant pastor in 4 different churches in Washington, Idaho, and California. The majority of those years was spent in Mariposa, California where in addition to serving as assistant pastor, he started and administrated the Christian school.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Interview With Stephen Joshua Benefield

Over the last several weeks I have sat down with each of my children and interviewed them for our Anniversary Month. Angela and I have been blessed with awesome kids, and I want our friends and supporters to have a chance to know them better. I hope you will enjoy these interviews.

November 2009
How old are you?
I'm four.

Where were you born?

Do you have any idea why they call it Thailand?'s because there are Thai people there, and because there is land there.

So, do you speak Thai yourself?
No, I don't know how to speak Thai.

Well then what language do you speak?
I speak a little bit of Khmer, and that's it.

What about English?  Do you know how to speak English?
Ummm...I don't know about that.

What's it like living in Cambodia?
It's just like living in Thailand.

Interview With Emma Grace Benefield

Over the last several weeks I have sat down with each of my children and interviewed them for our Anniversary Month. Angela and I have been blessed with awesome kids, and I want our friends and supporters to have a chance to know them better. I hope you will enjoy these interviews.

July 2010

First of all, is Emma your real name?
No, my real name is Emerald.

Which one do you like to be called?
(giggles) Ummm...I like Emma better. Well...I don't know which one I like better. But I think I like Emma better.

Okay, then Emma it is. How old are you?
I am 8 years old.

Where were you born?
In Thailand...Bangkok, Thailand.

Does that mean you speak Thai?
No. Well, I know how to say one word: sawatekaa (giggles)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Interview With Deborah Joy Benefield

Over the last several weeks I have sat down with each of my children and interviewed them for our Anniversary Month. Angela and I have been blessed with awesome kids, and I want our friends and supporters to have a chance to know them better. I hope you will enjoy these interviews.

July 2010

How old are you?
I am 10 years old.

Where were you born?
I was born in California.

So if your family has been here 10 years, you must have been really young when you moved to Cambodia, right?
Yes, I was 6 weeks old. remember a lot about that trip?
(rolls eyes) I was a BABY, Daddy!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Interview With Candace Hope Benefield

Over the last several weeks I have sat down with each of my children and interviewed them for our Anniversary Month. Angela and I have been blessed with awesome kids, and I want our friends and supporters to have a chance to know them better. I hope you will enjoy these interviews.

Teaching a lesson, October, 2010
Where were you born?
Fresno, California

How old are you?
I'm 11 years old.

What grade are you in this year?
I'm in 7th grade.

Do you have a favorite subject in school?
Yes, I like Science the best.

Why do you like Science the most?
Because it's interesting to know about electricity, molecules, planets, and other things like that.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Guest Preacher Series (Adam Wood)

Last night was the 4th week in our guest preacher series at church. We had the opportunity to hear Bro. Adam Wood, who is one of the newest missionaries in Cambodia. He and his wife, Alison, have 6 children. The Woods have been working for the past two years with the Ruppels, and Adam is currently working on a concordance for the Khmer Bible. This has been a huge project, but it will be a help to many when it is completed. Also Mrs. Wood has taught piano lessons to a number of people here in Cambodia, including our three oldest daughters. We are very glad to have this family serving with us in Cambodia.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

5 Times To Say "Here Am I"

"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me."

When I was a young teenager, the Lord impressed this verse upon my heart. I knew that there was much work to be done for Christ, and it seemed right and reasonable to volunteer to serve God in whatever way that He saw fit. Over the years I have noticed that the phrase "Here am I" was said by many people in the Word of God and in many different circumstances. Oftentimes the beautiful song "Here am I, Lord, send me" is reserved for the annual missions conference, but in reality, that should be our year-round and life-long prayer. Here are 5 times to say, "Here am I".

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Special Song For A Special Occasion

The following song was written by my brother, Timothy Benefield, and sung by the Sequoia Baptist Church choir on the occasion of our commissioning service.  This service took place just one day before our departure for Cambodia, and I will never forget the depth of emotion and love displayed by our sending church that night.  I share the words to this song with you in the hopes that they will encourage you as they have encouraged me.
© Sonja_inselmann | Dreamstime Stock Photos

A Farewell Prayer

As you head for distant countries, you may feel all alone
The burdens that are coming, as yet cannot be known.
But you can rest assured, you won't bear them on your own.
For we will meet you daily in the presence of God's throne.

GO IN PRAYER, our earnest prayer.
All your burdens we will share.
At God's throne your name declare.
We will pray, so GO IN PRAYER.

As you daily face the trials, so sure to come your way,
The fears and doubts will gather, through each and every day.
But you are in His hand, just trust Him and obey.
Just find your rest in Jesus, and He'll drive the fears away.

GO IN PEACE, God's perfect peace.
All your cares to Him release.
In His hands all worries cease.
Rest in Him, and GO IN PEACE.

As you face the Devil's strongholds, the conflict will be strong.
The dangers will be many, the battle will be long.
But you are on God's side, the fight to Him belongs.
And in the strength of Jesus you will sing the vict'ry song.

GO IN POWER, God's mighty power.
He'll be with you every hour.
He's your Shield and your strong Tower.
He's your Strength, so GO IN POWER.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cambodia: Land Of All Five Senses

A Reprint From An Article Written Nearly 10 Years Ago

The country of Cambodia is an extravaganza of sights, sounds, smells, and colors. It is truly a feast for the 5 human senses.  

We see the bright, vivid colors of the fresh fruits at the market. We see the single-file lines of orange-robed Buddhist monks walking from house to house, shielded from the sun by their yellow umbrellas. We see the large family of monkeys playing in the trees near the post office. We see the cyclos, motos, cars, and trucks whizzing by in every direction, rarely stopping and rarely obeying any of the laws of the road.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Guest Preacher Series (Brother Waang)

Tonight's guest preacher was another of Bro. Ruppel's converts. Waang was born and raised in Vietnam, in an area that once belonged to Cambodia. The area is called Kampuchea Kroum (which means lower Cambodia), and the people from that area are also called Kampuchea Kroum. They typically speak, read, and write Vietnamese, although they are ethnically Khmer (Cambodian). Waang says that in the first 9 years of his life while living in Vietnam, he never one time heard about Jesus. The Ruppels arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia just a couple of years after Waang's family. A woman that Bro. Ruppel had led to Christ invited Waang's family to come to church with her. After Waang and his dad went the first time, Bro. Ruppel started going to their house to witness to them. Wang says that Bro. Ruppel went several weeks in a row, and although the dad had no interest at all in the Gospel, Waang (who was around 14 years old at the time) sat there soaking up the message of the Gospel.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

You Are Invited...

November 9th will mark exactly 10 years since our family arrived in Cambodia!  We are excited about this milestone and will be having many special articles, interviews, pictures, and a few surprises on our blog throughout the month of November.  I encourage you to check in often.  I hope that you will read something that will make you smile, encourage your heart, or give you a fresh vision for the cause of world-wide missions.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Guest Preacher Series (Pastor Sakaun)

Tonight was the second night in our series of guest speakers for our midweek services, and we greatly enjoyed having Pastor Sakaun and his wife, Samaat, with us. This precious couple was led to Christ 11 years ago by Bro. Rodney Ruppel.  Sakaun was a soldier for 20 years (up until the time of his conversion) and Samaat has been a school teacher for 28 years. Before Bro. Ruppel met them, Samaat had heard a little bit about Christ from a cousin who was saved in the refugee camps in Thailand during the Khmer Rouge era. She had read small portions of the Bible, but knew virtually nothing about Christ. Then in 1999 Samaat's cousin invited them to watch a Christmas play at the New Hope Baptist Church (Bro. Ruppel's church), which at that time was just a couple of years old. They came and watched the play, and afterwards Bro. Ruppel asked if he could come to their house and tell them more about Jesus. They agreed, and shortly thereafter he was on his way.  The problem was...their house was a long way from Phnom Penh!  Samaat says, "I told him that he didn't have to go all the way out there...that our house was far away from town, but he said that compared to the trip from America, he was sure it wouldn't be too long." 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Guest Preacher Series (Kuonaro Keo)

This past Thursday in our mid-week Bible study we were privileged to listen to the preaching of Bro. Kuonaro Keo, a fellow missionary here in Cambodia. This was the first of 7 guest speakers who are scheduled to preach between now and Thanksgiving in our mid-week services. Lord willing, I will give a brief overview of each week's sermon and also take advantage of this opportunity to introduce you to some great men of God with whom I am honored to serve the Lord.

Monday, October 4, 2010

"Do You Know Anything About Parachutes?"

A Joke With A Point

A man parachuted out of an airplane, and when he pulled the cord, his chute failed to open.  As he continued falling through the air, he grabbed for his reserve ripcord, but again nothing happened.  He began to fret just a bit as you might imagine, and he said to himself,  "Oh man!  What am I gonna do now?  I'm a goner for sure!"

As he plummeted downward, suddenly he saw a surprising sight down below him.  A man was flying straight up towards him at a speed that was every bit as fast as his own, and it appeared that he would pass nearby.  "Hey, great!" he thought.  "Maybe this guy can help me."  As the man shot by him the parachutist yelled, "HEY!!!  YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT PARACHUTES?"  To which the man replied, "NO!  YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT GAS STOVES?"

After I read that joke, the thought occurred to me that I am not the only person in the world with a problem.  The people I meet throughout the day, they all have problems too.  Some are worse than mine.  I had a couple of bad days last week.  Wednesday was one of the most discouraging days I've had in a long time.  Sunday started off really badly, although it did get better quickly.  But do you know what?  Compared to some of the other trials that I know some people are going through right now, I have nothing for which to complain.  I challenge you to keep this little joke in mind next time you are tempted to complain or feel sorry for yourself.  Look around.  Somebody else has a problem that is bigger than yours.  Instead of focusing on our own problems, we should lend a helping hand (or a prayer) to another person in need.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Travel To The Mission Field Of Your Choice Today!

© Orlando Florin Rosu | Dreamstime Stock Photos

I know that there are many Christians all around the world who pray for their missionaries, and I know that many of those prayer warriors are senior citizens.  I could tell you about an 85 year-old man in Southern California who prays for us all the time.  I could tell you about a grandmother in Northern California who for many years prayed and fasted specifically for our ministry on the first Wednesday of every month.  I could tell you about another grandmother in Mississippi who prays for us and writes us emails to tell us that she is praying.  I could tell of another man in his 80's who lives in Colorado and prays for us every day.  I'm so thankful for these praying friends.  

I got an email today from my mom, and she shared something with me that made me cry.  We have a senior citizen lady in our home church who is one of these faithful prayer partners like the ones mentioned above.  My mom prints off our email updates for her, and she gets very excited to receive them.  Today my mom told me that this dear lady keeps a list of all the names of the people for whom I request prayer, and then she crosses them off when she hears that they got saved!  She told my mom recently that as a result of reading the updates and praying for the requests, she feels like she has been to Cambodia!

That got me thinking...I wonder how many Christians will never have the privilege of visiting a foreign mission field in person.  Perhaps you are tied down with work or other commitments.  Perhaps you cannot financially afford it.  Perhaps you, like some of these seniors above, are in poor health and are physically unable to make such a long trip.  Some may even be confined to a bed or a wheelchair.  And yet, just because you cannot take a trip to the mission field in person doesn't mean you can't go there in prayer.  This precious senior saint in our church said that because of her deep interest and her daily intercession, she feels like she has been here.  And I suppose in a sense...she has.

Find a place to get alone with God and travel to the mission field of your choice today!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Choices Of Life

I'm very excited about a new series we have just begun in our Sunday School hour.  The series is called The Choices of Life, and is a chapter by chapter study of the book of Proverbs.  As depicted by our  poster above, life is about choices.  Choices about friends, relationships, money, bitterness, alcohol, greed, forgiveness, anger, lust, obedience, child rearing, marriage, and many other topics must be made every day.  Every day, another choice.  Every choice, another consequence.  Often people want a certain destination, but fail to make the right turns in life to reach that destination.  

With God's help, we want to teach our people to live their lives by the wisdom that comes from God and His Word.  Last Sunday we handed out a small picture like the one above to each person to remind them of three things: to come to Sunday School each week, to read their Bible each day, and to make wise choices every day.

We had a great start to the series last Sunday, and plan to stay in this series for 8 - 9 months.  In addition to the weekly outlines of each chapter, we will also be periodically distributing bonus handouts on such topics as:
      -the four main characters in the book of Proverbs
      -the marks of a wise man
      -the marks of a foolish man
      -the battle for the simple man
      -the three calls of wisdom
      -a list of things that are said to be "better"
      -lists of God's wisdom for various situations
      -a list of Biblical proverbs that have a Khmer equivalent
      -and other practical handouts

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Philosophy of Gospel Tracts – Part 7

This is part seven of a series.  The previous articles may be read here:  Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.

Our world is rapidly changing.  With each product upgrade or advance in technology, some other product or technology breaths its last breathe.  As bigger and better hits the market, people naturally reject the old and outdated.  It is only natural then to consider the question:  What level of print quality is suitable and necessary for the Gospel message?  Can we run tracts on a copy machine or print them in one color on cheap paper?  Or does everything have to be high quality, full color, and glossy?  I have heard arguments for both views. 

I know some missionaries who hold to the view that basically anything is fine for a third-world country, and it is a waste of money to print nice tracts.  I do see their point, but we should always remember that even people in a poor country like to look at pretty things.  In fact, the majority of houses I have observed in Cambodia have pages from magazines and catalogs glued or stapled to the entire inside of their house!  It’s a poor man’s way of decorating the house, because they dislike dreary and drab as much as anybody.  On the other hand, it would put most printing projects outside of the parameters of the average missionary’s budget to try to print every piece of literature at a quality level which would impress Americans.  Obviously this is a very subjective topic, but here are three questions to consider.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Eating in Cambodia

We get asked this question all the time:  "What do you guys eat over there?"  I suppose every missionary probably gets that question.  Since we just had a church potluck, I decided to take this occasion to talk about what we eat in Cambodia.

In case you hadn't figured it out yet, those are chicken heads in the above picture.  Last summer when my parents and cousin came over for a visit, the church all worked together to put on a wonderful welcome meal for them.  I took this picture while the ladies were preparing the meal.  They made chicken curry, which is one of our favorites.  Now, I really don't care for the way they do some things (like letting pots simmer for hours under a bird-filled tree or cutting up all the meat and vegetables while sitting outside on the ground), but the finished product is usually really good.  There are numerous Khmer foods that are absolutely delicious!  

But I know when someone asks, "So, what do you guys eat over there?" they are not really asking about the delicious foods.  They are usually asking about the bizarre and strange stuff.  There are plenty of those things here!  There are deep-fried tarantulas, duck embryos, crickets, grasshoppers, blood soup, fried sparrows, and a host of other lovely choices:)  In the past I have had some people not believe me about some of these things.  

Well, it just so happens that the Travel Channel did a 45 minute program recently about the bizarre foods of Cambodia.  If you have the time, I encourage you to watch this program.  I think many of you would really enjoy it.  Besides seeing the foods, this is also one of the best portrayals of Cambodia I have ever seen with regards to the people, the traffic, the religion, the markets, etc.  It is really well done.  Click here for part 1.  On this part you will see the tarantulas being caught, cooked, and eaten.  

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Friendly Barber

A Great Joke To Brighten Your Day

A man went into the barbershop for a haircut.  While the barber was cutting his hair, he asked the customer, "So...what do you do for a living?"  "I'm a teacher," was the man's reply.  Over the next 15 minutes, the two men had a nice conversation centered around the teacher's career in influencing children.  When the barber was finished, the teacher asked, "How much do I owe you?"  The barber firmly shook the man's hand and said, "You don't owe me anything.  I consider it an honor to serve you since you have served the children of our city."  The stunned teacher expressed his gratitude and then left the shop.  The next morning when the barber came to work, sitting on his steps was a nice thank-you note with a box of chocolates.

The next day a marine went into the barbershop.  He didn't look like he needed much of a haircut, but obviously he wanted it shorter still.  While the barber cut his hair, he asked lots of questions about the marine's time in the service and all of the places that he had been.  When the barber finished the haircut, he gave the man a snappy salute and said, "No charge.  It's my honor to cut your hair for your service to our country."  The marine proudly returned the salute with a "Thank you, sir!" and left the barbershop.  The next morning when the barber came to work, sitting on his steps was a brand-new marine corps baseball cap.

The next day a Baptist missionary walked into the barbershop.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Philosophy of Gospel Tracts – Part 6

This is part six of a series. The previous articles may be read here: Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

The next important question in this series on the philosophy of Gospel tracts is: Can a foreigner write an effective tract in a language that is not his own? 

Years ago I had a conversation with an older, veteran missionary that was a bit disconcerting to me at the time. I had been in Cambodia for about 18 months and I was telling him about a couple of tracts I had recently written. He chuckled in a very condescending way and said, “Steve, when I was young like you and just starting out, I was the same way…lots of ideas, lots of zeal. But I’ve got to tell you, years later when I looked back at some of the stuff I wrote when I was new on the field, it was HORRIBLE!” His contention was that I was wasting my time trying to write Khmer material because he felt it was impossible for a foreigner to write something that a national would be able to read and understand. 

Is that true? Is a foreigner’s attempt at writing truly an effort in futility? Or are these concerns overstated? I do understand his point. There is no doubt that as a general rule, Khmers understand Khmers better than they understand foreigners. For example, yesterday I asked a young lady what she was going to bring to our church potluck, and she said, “I think I’m going to make spay katee”. I didn’t know what she meant. I thought maybe “spay” was some kind of vegetable. “Katee” could have been a way of preparing it, or some kind of noodles, or even another kind of vegetable. But whatever it was, I knew I had never heard of it before. She seemed a little bit frustrated that I didn’t know what she meant, because she said that spay katee was a western food. When she began to explain it to me, I finally realized she was talking about spaghetti. The funny thing was – everyone in the church knew what “spay katee” was. Nobody knew what “spaghetti” was!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Value of Prayer Partners

In the past eight months I have endeavored to greatly increase our communication with our many prayer partners around the world.  It is time-consuming to compose weekly email updates, and especially if much detail is given.  Is it worth it?  I believe it is, and here is why.  Keeping people informed of what is going on in our ministry is a key component in obtaining their regular and earnest prayers, and we know that "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

We have seen God's hand of blessing upon our ministry in a great way this year, and I believe it is due in part to the increased prayer which in turn is due in part to the increased communication.  I received a very encouraging email this morning in response to a ministry update which I sent yesterday.  The email was very brief, but it revealed a heart that is heavily invested in our ministry in Cambodia.  Here is the email of which I speak in its entirety: 
Tears of joy!!!  That is what I wept when I read of Sonyta’s salvation!!!!  Praise the Lord!!!!!  The ministry that God has allowed you to be a part of in Cambodia has become such a part of my life, and is becoming a great part of my prayer life.  Thank you so much for sharing the wonderful blessings so that we can be partakers of your joy.  Thank you so much for serving the Lord in Cambodia!
The sentence which I underlined is no doubt the hope of every missionary concerning his supporters back in the US or in their home country.  We do not merely desire for our partners to have a casual interest in our ministry, but for the ministry to become a part of their lives and particularly to become a great part of their prayer life.  A special thank you to the woman in Oklahoma for this great lesson in how to pray for missionaries.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Don't Forget!

A Challenging Thought From Psalm 106

While reading in Psalm 106 recently, the Lord impressed a powerful truth upon my heart.  I noticed how many action verbs there are in the chapter.  I mean verbs that are not good.  We are told that the Children of Israel lusted, tempted, envied, despised, murmured, provoked, etc.  I preached a message tonight out of Psalm 106 entitled "10 Dangerous Verbs".  The very first of the "dangerous verbs" though, which kind of started off the whole downward spiral and sad story that is the history of the nation of Israel is the verb "forgat".  Verse 13 says, "They soon forgat..."  A few verses later (vs 21), the indictment is repeated:  "They forgat..."  Of course, there are some things which need to be forgotten, but I believe one of the most dangerous things we can do is to forget things which should be remembered.

I want you to notice WHAT they forgot.  It does not say the same thing in both verses.  

Monday, August 9, 2010

A New Grandpa

A Story of Sowing and Reaping in God's Field

I would like to share an email written by a good friend of mine, Missionary Rodney Ruppel.  This is a great story.  It blessed my heart tremendously, and I believe it will be a blessing to you too. 

Dear Friends,

This past Thursday (July 29, 2010), God gave me the privilege of leading a man and wife to a saving knowledge of Christ.  Samnang and his wife Sokhom both have a 40 year history of God planting Gospel seeds in their hearts. 

Sokhom had been to church in the early seventies before the Khmer Rouge took control in 1975.  During that same time Samnang was travelling in and out of the country studying at universities abroad.  Though he had not made room in his own life for Christ, his brother accepted Christ and became a pastor for an evangelical church.  That brother was then murdered by the Khmer Rouge during their regime. 

A Christian nephew who started pastoring in the province during the nineties coupled with radio ministries in Phnom Penh continued to water the seed of God's Word growing in their hearts.  Samnang and Sokhom turned away from Buddhism and started to search for the truth.  Through Bible reading, visits from Mormons, listening to the radio, and talking to Christians they realized that there were many different denominations in Christianity and were confused about where to go to church.

Just last year a new missionary family, the Carlyles, rented a house across the street from this couple.  The Carlyles were a great testimony to them and quickly won their trust.  Since brother Carlyle is still in language school, he introduced them to me in order to finish the task of explaining the Gospel.

Sometimes we plant. Sometimes we water.  Sometimes we reap. Sometimes we do all three.  Surely, God is involved in every step of the miraculous process.  What a privilege it is to be one of many labourers over a 40 year span.  So much the more, what a privilege it is to be a labourer together with Christ in bringing in an eternal harvest!   

Please pray for this couple to continue to come to church and become committed to church.
Please pray for their discipleship as I start this Tuesday explaining the wonderful relationship that they have just begun.
Please pray for their 3 children and 2 grandchildren to be saved.  All of them live with Samnang and Sokhom. 

In the field,
Rodney Ruppel

If you will read that story slowly and carefully, you will notice some beautiful jewels buried in the details.  Let me share a few of my thoughts from this story.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I'm With Him!

A devotional thought from the streets of Cambodia

Driving in Cambodia is a challenge, but you don’t have to be here long to pick up little “tricks of the trade”.  One of the techniques which I employ often is something which I call the “I’m with him” approach.  Let me explain it.

Imagine you are on your moto trying to turn left onto a major road.  There are no traffic signals or stop signs and there are not sufficient breaks in the traffic for you to cross over and get onto your desired road.  When I say a major road, I mean 4 lanes.  But don’t confuse 4 LANES with 4 LINES of vehicles!  If all you had to deal with was 4 lines of vehicles (2 moving in each direction), that would be simple.  But considering the general disregard for lane markers AND the fact that you can fit 3 or 4 motos in one lane anyway, this 4 lane road actually has about 10 or 12 different rows of traffic at any given spot on the road.  (And it is not the case that on THIS side of the road everyone is going one way and on THAT side of the road everyone is going another way).  So…you get the picture.  Getting your little self out into the middle of the action where you need to be can at times be a bit difficult.

There are three basic ways to cut through the traffic.  One is to sit there like a good, sane, meek, law-abiding citizen, waiting for the proper break in the traffic so that you may drive across the flow of traffic while making a slow, safe, gently-curving turn onto your desired lane.  I tried that once.

The second way is to drive down the left shoulder, against the oncoming traffic, waiting for a little break in the traffic through which you may catapult yourself.  That works better than the first way, but it is a bit more dangerous than I usually prefer.

The third way is my favorite.  You look for a large vehicle (big SUV’s work well, but so do trucks and buses) that needs to make the same turn as you.  The big vehicles are not intimidated in the least by the scene that lies before them.  They just charge in, and miraculously the traffic opens up as easily as the Red Sea parted for Moses.  So the smartest thing you can do is get on the right side of the big vehicle and borrow his size and strength.  Hence the “I’m with him” technique.

Last week as I was in a swirling sea of traffic, about 12 inches off the right rear quarter panel of a big, black SUV, suddenly the thought occurred to me:  “I’m with him” is a good SPIRITUAL principle too!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Creator and Sustainer

We had a great time in church tonight!  I’ve been preaching through the book of Psalms on Thursday nights for nearly 2 years.  Tonight we found ourselves in Psalm 104, and the truths were so encouraging to me that I wanted to share them with someone.  I shared them with my church and then with my family at the dinner table.  Now, my blog readers are next on my hit listJ.

Psalm 104 is a great doctrinal Psalm.  The entire Psalm revolves around and supports the doctrine that God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things.  The key verse in my opinion is verse 24.  “O LORD, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.”  Many times we are asked what is the proof of God’s existence.  To the person whose eyes are open to the magnificent and beautiful world around us, the evidence is overwhelming!  Some people deny that there is a Creator.  Others concede the fact that there is a Creator, but deny the fact that God daily sustains all things in the natural world.  How I thank God that He is not only the Creator but also the Sustainer.  He keeps this old world spinning!  I don’t have to worry about icebergs melting or the sun burning out.  God created the world, and He will sustain it according to His will.

I.  The Creation of the World (vs 1-5)

God is big.  Very big! (vs. 1) He created entire galaxies with one sweeping motion of His hand, as easily as we would draw a curtain across a window. (vs. 2)  When God lays a foundation, it’s not going anywhere.  (vs. 5)

Monday, July 19, 2010

How Long Is Your Spiritual Attention Span?

My son came to me the other day and said with a slight whine in his voice, "Dad, can you make church not so long tonight?"

"Why?" I asked.  

"Because I always want to fall asleep!" was his honest reply.  

I answered, "Well, son, the people who come to church come to hear a message from the Bible, so I cannot promise that church will not be long."  Of course, "long" is a relative word anyway.  Our service lasts from 6:00 to 7:30 on Thursday nights.  Shorter than a movie or a ball game, but nonetheless to a 4 year-old, it's long!

About an hour later, he came to me and said, "Did you decide yet, dad?"

"Decide what?"

"If you could make church not so long tonight."

"Well, I already answered you, son."


But apparently he heard what he wanted to hear and not what I said.  Later in the day he told his sisters, "Daddy is going to make church not be so long tonight."  One of the girls said to me, "Is that true, daddy?"

"Is what true?"

"Stephen said you're going to make church shorter tonight."

"No, that's not what I told him."

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friends, Food, Fellowship, and Freedom

Have you ever wondered if there is a 4th of July in Cambodia? don't really think the calendar jumps from July 3rd to July 5th, do you?  Seriously, for the Baptist missionaries in Cambodia (the ones from America), the 4th of July is our big, annual get-together.  This year my family had the privilege of hosting.  On Monday, July 5th, we had 66 Americans at our house, representing 14 different families.  What a great time we had!  Pictured above is Stephen Benefield with his buddy, Ethan Mau.

In keeping with tradition we had a BBQ and potluck and sparklers for the kids.  We also did a couple of new things.  We had an award for the Most Patriotically-Dressed family, an award for the Most Patriotic Hat, and a pie-baking contest.

We also had a program with singing, special music, poems, and some fun competitions.  When we got ready to start our program all of the attendees were told on which side of the auditorium they were to sit, then we asked who could look around and determine what criteria was used for the seating arrangements.  Mrs. Anna Johnson caught on more quickly than anyone...we had seated folks according to which part of the US they call home, the north or the south.  At the end of our program, and after several rounds of American trivia and other fun competitions, the south was the clear winner!  However, the north provided far more of our program entertainment than did the south, so that should count for something!  (At least, so they said!)

The selections of vocal and instrumental music and poetry were very stirring.  Candace and Deborah Benefield did a good job on their piano solos, and the Schrock children and the Wood children sang beautfiul songs ("I'm Thankful To Be An American" and "God Bless America").  David Stephens blew everyone away with his own arrangement of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic".  The Ruppel family gave a stirring poem honoring our men and women in uniform, and then had us looking for the recruiter's office after their "Armed Forces Medley" (complete with Bro. Ruppel on the snare drum!).  Bro. Ruppel also gave a great poem about an old veteran standing up for "Old Glory".  Tom Johnson was a hit with his trumpet solo (with his back-up musicians, Rodney Ruppel on the snare drum, and yours truly on the piano).  A few people were seen throwing money into a basket, but we aren't sure if that was to get us to play more or to stop immediately!  Bro. and Mrs. Snyder provided comic relief with their modern day George and Martha Washington skit.  Megan Mau brought a southerner or two to their feet when she played "Dixie" on her flute, and then she brought the house down with her rousing-rendition of "The Stars and Stripes Forever".