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!
John Kenderdine took the initiative to start witnessing to Proh each week at his house, and in just a few weeks time, he trusted Christ as Savior. I am not positive about this, but I think he was the first person that John got to lead to Christ in Cambodia! About a month later, Bro. Ruppel returned from his furlough and became Proh's pastor and mentor. It was such a joy to all of us to watch Bro. Ruppel disciple him and train him. He was so hungry for the Word of God and excited about the Lord!
A few months after his salvation, Proh started coming to the Wednesday Bible Institute at Bro. Ruppel's church, New Hope Baptist Church, and nine years later, Proh still goes to the Institute on Wednesdays to study the Bible. Proh faced much ridicule from his older sisters during the early days of his Christian life. Thankfully his mother eventually got saved and became a faithful church member before passing away a few years ago. Nearly 6 years ago, Proh married Chenda, the oldest child of Pastor Sakaun and his wife Samaat, whose testimony I shared a few weeks ago. Proh and Chenda have two little boys, Jonathan is 4 years old and David is 4 months. For the last several years, Proh and his family have been helping Bro. Ray Shull in pastoring the Freedom Baptist Church, which I posted about last week.
Proh preached last night out of I Samuel 30:1-6 about the Amalekites invasion of Ziklag and David's great discouragement. He focused on verse 6 which says, "but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God." He talked about how there are many and various discouragements for every Christian, and that we MUST learn to keep ourselves encouraged. He pointed out that the encouragement that David needed could have only come from one place - God! Too many people turn to all the wrong sources for encouragement. He told of a man who called into a advice program on a radio station (Note: yes, they have those here too!) and he was crying and asking the host for advice about his abusive wife who beat him up every day. The host of the radio program asked the man to speak up good and loud as he was having a hard time hearing him, to which the man replied, "I can't talk any louder...I'm hiding in the closet". When we are facing a tough time or a discouraging situation, we don't need a radio, a TV, a magazine, a book, an ungodly friend, or a fortuneteller...we need God!
I was unable to get the complete outline of the sermon, because I was in and out several times during the service trying to deal with some issues that came up. Nevertheless, there were several really good thoughts that I got out of this sermon. One thing he said that I really liked was: "Your pastor is not with you 24 hours a day, but God is! Learn to depend upon Him!" I also liked this statement: "One of the ways that David was able to encourage himself in the Lord was that he remembered past victories. Earlier in his life, David faced the daunting task of going up against the giant, Goliath. In I Samuel 17:34-36, we see that the reason he was encouraged in that undertaking was that he was thinking about and remembering the victories that God had given him already in his life. You may have a new challenge today, but the God who gave you the victory in yesterday's battle is still the same God today."
Proh also gave a great illustration of people who are not patient in prayer. He said, "Sometimes I get cracked up at the people who are sitting at a red light. There is a red light near my house which has a wait time of 99 seconds (Note: many of the major intersections here have timers on the stoplights). That's a long time to sit at a red light. As you sit there waiting, you can kind of sense the impatience mounting and people's frustration as the clock slowly ticks down 92, 91, 90, 89... Nearly every time, the same exact thing happens. When the clock gets down to about 20 seconds left, certain people just can't stand it any longer, so they just go ahead and go. (Note: Yes, this does happen hundreds of times every day at every stop light in Cambodia!) When I see a few impatient drivers take off through the intersection, I want to say, 'You've already been waiting for 79 seconds...couldn't you wait for just 20 more?' But apparently they can't! This is so much like how we pray sometimes. We will pray and wait and endure a tough time for a certain amount of time, but then we will just say 'forget it'. But if you've already been waiting for awhile, just keep being patient. You may be mere seconds from your light turning green!"
I am so thankful for God's working in Proh's life! God is using him in a great way right now as he preaches multiple times each week at Freedom Baptist Church and in a couple of village ministries in which he is involved, and I believe God has great things in store for his future. Next time you try to witness to a relative, remember this: the one who laughs may turn to Christ sooner than you think. Next time you invite someone to church, remember this: Just because you can't tell them everything they need to know doesn't mean you can't tell them anything at all. You could be talking to a future preacher.