Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Brief History Of Turkeys In Cambodia

Image courtesy of papaija2008 at

I don't exactly know when the first turkey arrived in Cambodia, but when my family arrived here 13 years ago, frozen turkeys cost $70 to $80. Missionaries would gather in large groups for Thanksgiving and pool their resources to buy a turkey. The amount each family paid depended on the size of their family. The host had the unenviable task of collecting from his friends and blocking people's cars in so they couldn't leave without paying. Even for those who opted not to eat, there was usually a $5 surcharge just for sniffing. Every bone was licked clean. Leftovers were out of the question. Those were some dark days.

After learning the Khmer language, we came to the realization that a very important word had been overlooked in our lessons. That word was "turkey." I decided to show a picture of a turkey to some people and discover what the Khmer word for turkey was. After polling numerous Cambodians, they all said the same thing..."moen barang." Moen is chicken; barang is foreigner. And as in many languages, the adjective follows the noun. So...a turkey is a foreigner chicken. Foreigner chicken? Oh, brother! Such a miscarriage of literary justice! But old habits die hard, so "foreigner chicken" it remained.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Report On Our Medical Clinic

Amanda Visser treating a patient. This little guy is the son of a
national Baptist pastor.

I'm sure you've heard the saying, "Many hands make light work." Well, it's not always true! Some jobs are so big that even with lots of people helping, it's still heavy. Such was the case two weeks ago when we partnered with Medical Missions Outreach to host a 4-day medical clinic. 

Medical Missions Outreach, led by Bradley Edmondson, is a ministry which recruits medical professionals from the U.S. and takes them on trips to foreign countries to provide medical care for people who need it. They partner with independent Baptist churches like ours, so that when the clinic is over and the doctors and nurses are gone, there is still someone to build upon the relationship that has been established and hopefully win the people to Christ. We thank God for opening this door of opportunity for us to partner with this ministry. God blessed with a great turnout, and we were able to treat and provide free medicine for over 800 patients in the four days of our clinic.

The Participants Of The Clinic

Many hands (and there were many!) definitely didn't make the work light; however, having many hands made the work possible. There were 5 distinct groups of people that were involved in this outreach in some way, shape, or form.

1. The Medical Missions Outreach team

Their team of 10 included an emergency room physician, an EMT, 6 registered nurses, and 2 serving in a support role. All in all, the team was very competent and compassionate, and we appreciate them taking time off work and putting out the necessary expense to come and serve the people of Cambodia. Thank you, Bradley Edmondson, Tom Garra, Steve Henson, Marcos and Carolyn Alvarez, Joanna Barch, Ira Daclan, Amanda Visser, Becky Pope, and Kate Pakenham. You touched many lives with your gracious spirits  and servant's hearts. God bless you!

The Medical Mission Outreach team from the U.S.

2. The team of volunteers from Singapore

Missionaries Chantha and Susan Chhim brought a group of 11 (3 families) and were a huge help for 3 of the clinic days. The Singapore group provided logistical support in areas like the triage area, the lab, the pharmacy, and escorting patients to the proper places around the clinic. Thank you, Chantha, Susan, Caleb, Corbin, and Carter Chhim, Sun Ming Sheat and Sarah Tan, and David, Shannon, Alyssa, and Jacob Panjwani. You folks were awesome!

Missionary Chantha Chhim and family and the 2 other families they brought
with them from Singapore. (not pictured: Mrs. Shannon Panjwani)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

10 Prayer Requests For Our Medical Clinic Outreach

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid at

This coming week (May 27th - 30th) we will be hosting a free medical clinic at our church as an evangelistic outreach. Healthcare in Cambodia is generally not too good, and many of Cambodia's poorest people do not have the money to obtain even substandard healthcare. God has laid it upon the heart of Bro. Bradley Edmondson, director of Medical Missions Outreach, to bring his team of volunteer medical professionals from the U.S. to conduct this clinic. His team will be providing the medical expertise and the needed medicines, and my team (our church and some other area missionaries) will be providing the translators and logistical support as well as sharing the Gospel. Also, a missionary friend from Singapore, Bro. Chantha Chhim, will be coming with his wife and children and a few of his converts from their new church plant in Singapore. We are excited about this wonderful opportunity to share God's love by meeting some of the physical needs of the people and pray God will open doors to meet the greatest need of all, salvation through faith in Christ. 

Here are 10 specific prayer requests for this outreach.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Benefield's 2011 Furlough Video

This is the video that we showed on our furlough (fall of '11 through summer of '12). If you are a pastor or church member of one of our supporting churches and we did NOT visit your church on this past furlough, I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to see a report on your investment in Cambodia. 

A number of people who saw this video last year requested a copy or a link where it could be viewed again or shared. it is! We originally intended to post this video immediately upon the completion of our furlough, but technical difficulties prevented that from happening. Special thanks to my good friend, Adam Wood, for taking some time to help me figure out and resolve the problem.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Lessons From A Sheepdog, by Phillip Keller (Book Review)

© Melinda Nagy | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Lessons From A Sheepdog was written in 1982 by Phillip Keller. I picked up a copy about 10 or 12 years ago at a garage sale and it has sat on a shelf ever since. A couple of months ago while perusing the books in my library and working on a list of books I intended to read in 2013, Lessons From A Sheepdog caught my eye. Now that I've read it, I am convinced that it was God who directed my attention to that book on the shelf.

At first glance, it may seem odd to try to draw lessons about the Christian life from a sheepdog. After all, Christians are called sheep, not sheepdogs. But you can rest assured that Mr. Keller is not trying to change the biblical designation of Christians as sheep. Indeed he makes reference all through the book to this very distinction. However, just as a shepherd often uses a sheepdog to help care for the flock, we who are servants of Christ have the privilege of co-laboring with God to help lead and guide His flock. But this doesn't mean the book is only for pastors or those who are church leaders in some official capacity. Since every believer who is biblically living out their faith will have some measure of influence on others, this book can encourage and strengthen Christians of all ages and situations.

In the first chapter, Mr. Keller tells the story of how in his younger years he was starting a new sheep ranch and was in need of a good sheepdog. He answered a classified ad from an individual who sounded desperate to get rid of a very bad and surly dog. Mr. Keller loved dogs and couldn't stand to see this one destroyed by its incompetent owner, so he agreed to take the dog. Eventually the dog became a loyal and faithful servant to Mr. Keller and was a huge asset to his work as a shepherd. The story presented in that first chapter is well-told and heart-warming in and of itself, but it gets infinitely better in the ensuing chapters as Mr. Keller uses his relationship with his dog to illustrate our relationship with God.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Longest Ladder

Image courtesy of Nattavut /

Harry, Gary, and Larry were walking through the woods one night on the way to their favorite fishing spot.  Suddenly they stumbled upon an old, abandoned mine shaft, and all three of the friends fell through the rotten wood and crashed to the bottom.  Having managed to survive the fall with just some bumps and bruises, they were soon peering up at the small window of light above them.  It was a 50-foot shaft, but it might as well have been 1,000 feet. 

“Oh, great!” groaned Gary.  “How are we going to get out of this mess?”

“I don’t know” replied Harry.  “I’m just glad our gear fell down here with us.” And with that, he grabbed a slightly dented can of beer from their now-broken ice chest.  “No reason to let a little thing like this keep us from having a good time.”

“C’mon, Harry!  Are you nuts?”  This time it was Larry speaking.  “We’ve fallen into an abandoned mine shaft, and all you can think about is your beer?” 

Harry sneered, “Well, what are you suggesting, Mr. Know-It-All?”

“I’ll tell you what I’m suggesting” said Larry, “I’m suggesting that we’ve got a big problem, and we better get busy if we want to save ourselves.”

“What do you have in mind?” asked Gary.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Happiness is...

© Ivan Pheoktistov | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Happiness is...
Driving into a village on a Saturday afternoon and seeing kids lining the sides of the road, lessons in hand, waiting to be picked up for church.

Happiness is...
Hearing a bunch of children in the back of the van reviewing their memory verse on the way to church.

Happiness is...
Hearing the sound of rustling pages while preaching the Word of God.

Happiness is...
Having to wait a few extra seconds to start reading your text, because you have new Christians in the church.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Anniversary, Pastor and Mrs. Benefield and the Sequoia Baptist Church

My mom and dad in their early days of ministry at Sequoia Baptist Church

36 years ago my parents moved to Visalia, California, to start the Sequoia Baptist Church. They had four children ranging in age from infancy through 5 years old. I was three. This past Sunday, Sequoia Baptist Church celebrated her 36th Anniversary. My dad is still faithfully preaching the Word of God. My mom is still faithfully serving by his side. Their steadfastness for the Lord has been a great inspiration to me, and I count both of them among my heroes.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Shall We Plead With Sinners?

One of the sad byproducts of this modern age where "tolerance is king" is that Christians have lost the  urgency of the Gospel message. We are so afraid of being criticized, ostracized, or marginalized that we oftentimes unintentionally make our presentation of Christ sound like something that can be taken or left with no consequence. I have read statements from so-called "Christian" mission organizations that went something like this: "We are not here to proselytize. We are just here to show the people love and compassion. If they choose to believe like us, that is fine. If not, that is fine too."

To be sure, there are some tactics being used in an attempt to reach people for Christ that are wrong and inappropriate. But just because there are unethical men who would try to bully or trick a person into making a "profession of faith," that does not mean that we should go to the other extreme and be tepid and timid in our presentation of the Gospel. There are times that a person hears the Gospel explained and readily agrees to believe on Christ. But what about the times that a person hears the Gospel and then sets up camp in the valley of indecision? How should we deal with fence-sitters? Should we leave procrastinators alone? Should we simply give them the message from God and then walk away? Is any amount of pressure justified? If so, how much? In other words, shall we plead with sinners?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Enough To Go Around

© Anatoliy Babiychuk | Dreamstime Stock Photos

In 1980, Cambodia was just emerging from one of the most horrific periods of time that any nation has ever endured. Between 1975 and 1979, the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, under the leadership of the infamous Pol Pot, abused the Cambodian people in a way that is hard to describe and even harder to comprehend. An estimated 2 million people died either of starvation, malnutrition, or disease or were killed outright by the Khmer Rouge. When the North Vietnamese defeated the Khmer Rouge in 1979 (or at least drove them out of the highly populated areas and into their jungle hideouts) they assumed by default the responsibility of picking up the pieces of the Khmer Rouge's razing of the country and its people. I recently read an account of that time in Cambodia's history and the difficulty that was faced in getting emergency aid distributed to the people, and it gave me some things to think about with relation to the Great Commission.

Rats in the Rice

When the Vietnamese rolled into town, their first task was dealing with the starvation, malnutrition and sickness that abounded on every hand at some of the greatest levels ever seen in modern history. Sadly, when foreign aid and relief began to come flooding in, they had a very difficult time getting it properly distributed to those who were in need. Ships waited for weeks to dock and unload, because of the interminably long time (mostly due to inefficiency) that it took to unload each ship. Once rice and other aid was unloaded, the distribution was just as bad, if not worse. Various aid organizations had donated 1,100 trucks for delivering food and relief supplies, but they were misappropriated, kept mostly around Phnom Penh and used for transporting people. Meanwhile, the stockpile of rice and other food items was getting infested with rats as it sat undelivered. Journalist Henry Kamm went on a 500 mile journey on the main roads and saw only 3 of the relief trucks. Every time he stopped in a village, he was told the same story: very little rations had been delivered and no seed at all. Mr. Kamm told of meeting a 25 year-old man who pedaled his bike for two weeks from Kampong Cham province to Phnom Penh in search of rice. With 80 pounds of rice strapped to his bike rack he began to push it back home. His family was waiting, he said. Instead of distributing the relief supplies and food, certain people at the top of the "food chain" were hoarding it. High ranking Cambodian officials were eating very well while the rest of the people were still starving. Many who had enough for their own family seemed unconcerned with the plight of those who had nothing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Such As I Have Give I Unto Thee

During the month of January, I am teaching a series in Sunday School on "How To Lead Others To Christ." I'm thankful that on the whole, our church members are unashamed to identify with Christ. They are constantly requesting Gospel tracts to hand out, consistently bringing friends, family, and neighbors to church, and continually taking flak for their faith in Jesus Christ. However, when it comes to Christians being able to personally lead a soul to Christ, we need to grow. We have some who are very competent in that area, but not enough. 

Two Sundays ago, after I preached from Acts 8 about Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, a good number of our people raised their hand in the invitation to express the following decision: "I have never personally led someone to Christ, but with God's help, I want to establish a goal this year to both learn how to lead a soul to Christ and actually lead someone to Christ." I would like to ask my blog readers who pray for our ministry to make this issue a matter of prayer in 2013. 

Interestingly, just a few days after preaching this message, I was reading a devotional by Charles Spurgeon and I came across this:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Year In Review - 2012

I am trying something new. While I was thinking about writing a "year-in-review," I realized that I had already written a summary of my year...via twitter. And because twitter was written as the year happened instead of after it was over, I like the freshness of it. So I have taken selected twitter updates and repurposed them as a summary of what 2012 was like for our family and ministry. 

Those of you who use twitter and follow me may not want to spend time on this post, as it is all information you have probably already seen. On the other hand, for those who do not read our twitter updates, you may be interested in this "diary-style" perspective of our ministry. 

I am aware that there are many who do not use twitter, so let me give a couple of words of clarification. First, the reason every post is so short is because twitter limits the characters in a post to just 140. Second, when you come across symbols like @ and #, just ignore them. They are used by twitter users to connect with other twitter users. 

God gave us a wonderful year, and we hope our friends and family will enjoy hearing about some of the things they might have missed.