We were blessed this past week to have Evangelist Dave McCracken preach two nights in our church. He and his wife, Nancy, were passing through Cambodia to see their long-time friends, Ray and Sharon Shull, and Bro. Shull graciously "loaned him" to us for two nights.
Since it is a rare treat to have a guest speaker like this pass through our area, we invited some other missionaries to bring their families and/or some folks from their church and join us for the services. What a wonderful time we had! We averaged over 90 people each of the two nights. The singing was phenomenal both nights as we sang encouraging hymns like Revive Us Again, All Hail The Power, and Power In The Blood. I absolutely love to hear our people sing, and when we added the people from several other churches, it was even better than normal. Bro. McCracken paid our combined churches a real compliment when he said he wished he could take the whole group back to America with him to show some of the Christians there how it's done!
I'll have to admit, I was a little bit nervous to translate for Dave McCracken. Anyone who has ever heard him preach will know why I say that. To say that he is an energetic preacher would be putting it quite mildly:) But there was no reason to worry. He had just come from India and Sri Lanka and was completely "in the groove" as far as preaching through a translator. It really was no trouble at all, and I believe his messages came through loud and clear. I know that our folks really enjoyed him.
Bro. McCracken preached both nights out of the book of I Thessalonians chapter 1. I was personally excited when I heard what he would be preaching from that passage, because that is one of my favorite books in the Bible, especially with regards to our ministry here in Cambodia. The first night, he spent some time in Acts 17 laying the groundwork as to why there even was a church at Thessalonica. He placed great emphasis on the fact that before there was a church in Thessalonica, there was a man who got saved, was called into the ministry, and then went to a specific place of God's leading. He challenged the people to remember that the same process whereby the church at Thessalonica came forth is the same process whereby the Good News Baptist Church of Phnom Penh (and the other churches) came forth. It is also the same process that God desires to repeat yet again through each of our churches here in Cambodia. This was an excellent challenge to the churches which were in attendance as I know that the heart of each pastor is to see God raise up more men to help start more churches.
The second night he preached from I Thessalonians 1:3 about the "work of faith" that characterized the believers in Thessalonica. Just as one's new life in Christ must begin through faith (turning to God from idols, vs 9), so likewise one's new life in Christ must be continued through faith (serving the living and true God, vs 9). Again referencing Acts 17 where Paul won a great multitude of "devout Greeks", Bro. McCracken encouraged the people not to be timid or lose hope when it comes to sharing the Gospel with people who are devout in their own religion. We must do as Paul did - he "reasoned with them out of the scriptures" and relied fully upon the supernatural power of God's Word to convict sinners and bring them to repentance. Both of these messages challenged and motivated both myself and our people to have more faith, not in our own abilities, but in God and His Word!
After the second service, we had the opportunity to go and eat with the McCrackens and get to know them a little better. That was a blessing. My kids really enjoyed them both, although the younger ones had a hard time with their last name. Gabby (2 years old) said later that she liked Bro. McCrack. Then later she said she also liked Mrs. Cracken. On Friday night we were blessed to have the McCrackens at our monthly English service for Baptist missionaries, which was held south of Phnom Penh at the Shull's house. It was nice to sit and listen to the preaching without having to translate the message, and we had another great service. How I thank the Lord for the times that He sends a special servant of God along to encourage us in the fight!