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."
Bro. Ruppel started making the trip out to their village to teach them about Christ and a short time later, the entire family got saved on the same day - Sakaun, Samaat, their two daughters, and their son! They wanted to be in church so badly that they began riding in on their motorbike for Sunday services in Phnom Penh, about 45 minutes one way. Then when the kids wanted to come and also a few others in the village, they started bringing 2 and 3 bicycles per week in addition to the moto. The bicycle ride took about 2 hours one way. This is what they were doing when we first met them upon our arrival in Cambodia 10 years ago.
Since that time, God has blessed their family greatly. Pastor Sakaun has been trained and ordained into the ministry. He helps Bro. Ruppel pastor the church in Phnom Penh, and he also started a church in his home village. His two daughters have both married young preachers. In fact, both of their sons-in-law will be preaching for our church during this series of special speakers. They have 2 grandsons now and a new grandbaby due to arrive in a couple of months. Also, on Mondays and Tuesdays, Pastor Sakaun conducts services in 5 other locations which are quite a distance from his home village. Samaat continues to teach school, and they also grow rice. They are a very busy couple, mostly busy about the Lord's work!
Tonight Pastor Sakaun preached a great message out of Romans 12:3-11 about exercising your spiritual gift in your local church. First he spoke of the importance of each member of the body working together in order for the body to function properly (vs 4-5). He used a great illustration of how when you are driving your moto, your eyes, hands, and feet all play an important part in driving safely. Your eyes can't step on the brake, your feet can't grab the handlebars and steer, and your hands can't see where you are going. But when each member of the body fulfills his own role, the moto can zip down the road!
Second, he did an excellent job of describing the spiritual gifts out of verses 6-8. This was particularly helpful to the new Christians in our church who have not yet heard that passage preached. He did a very good job of making every spiritual gift seem equally important and vital to the health and well-being of the church.
Third, he showed us from verse 3 that we are not to exercise our spiritual gifts with pride. He said that we should never think of ourselves or our gifts and abilities more highly than someone else's. Each person has the spiritual gift that God gave to them.
Finally, he showed us the attitudes with which we SHOULD exercise our spiritual gifts (vs 9-11). In verse 9 we are to exercise our spiritual gifts with a pure heart. In verse 10, we are to exercise our spiritual gifts while putting others first. And in verse 11, our spiritual gifts must be exercised with great effort and diligence. All in all, it was an outstanding exposition of a very helpful and practical passage of Scripture. I'm so glad that Pastor Sakaun was willing to make the long drive to our church tonight, and I'm so glad that Bro. Ruppel was willing to make the long drive to Sakaun and Samaat's house all those years ago.