A nice wet welcome to all of you. We are getting rain, although it’s not enough yet, but it’s a good start. Please pray with us for more rain as this land needs lots. See my friend Samai is out and about in the province on his bike on really muddy roads. Pray for our safety travelling these roads in raining season. I am off with Samai to Ratanakiri on Wednesday. We are helping a small community to set-up a church and need to go and buy some roofing material for the pastor.
This week was the graduation ceremony of Eli and even Gideon got a prize. We are so happy to see Anton telling the story of Ester and Mordegai and did a fine job of it. It was a very grand occasion with the boys seen in long pants, white shirts and ties(we had to go and buy ties, as we never use it) Now it’s the big holiday and keeping these guys busy is not an easy task. We started by riding bicycle every day and hope it will last.
Our prayer for Syria this week:
Acts 2:4 “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
Holy Spirit, thank You that You are actively drawing people to Jesus and changing their lives for the best. Thank You for giving dreams and visions to many. I pray that you would give even more! Jesus, no one is beyond your reach or beyond Your compassionate heart. I pray that EVERY heart would come to know You!
Yesterday I was invited to watch the group of new Kurdish believers play football. I see these men often at their weekly meeting but seeing them in a different setting, kicking around a ball, made me see them in a different way. Yes, before me is a teacher. And here are evangelists. They've learnt a new way to live, a way of love and forgiveness, a way to reach out to their friends who do not yet know. It's not just for one day a week that they've changed, it's a Life that has changed them.
Jesus, thank you so much for these believers, almost all of them the first in their family to believe, and still the only believer in their family. I pray that their families and their friends would accept the Truth that these men (and women) have received. I pray for protection and I pray that they would be the ones to bring hope and salvation to their families. I pray for an infilling of the Holy Spirit that would give them the words to say and the boldness to say it. Thank You Holy Spirit!
I include a very good read, about Animism vs Buddhism in Cambodia, from my friend Abraham Warren. Some of you may know him as the family that came from Cape Town and currently serving here. Continue praying for them as a family.
When we arrived in Cambodia we thought that we predominantly coming to a Buddhist country. Were we in for a rude awakening, because a strong case can be made that Cambodia is predominantly animistic, and that their “official religion” Buddhism is merely a thin veneer over a deeply ingrained animistic worldview. Ninety-five percent of Cambodians call themselves Buddhist, but like most Christians in South Africa, America and Europe our “main” religion doesn’t impact our lives at all. Animism is the belief that all things have a spirit or soul, including animals, plants, rivers, mountains, stars, the moon, and the sun. Each being is considered a spirit that can offer help or harm to humans. As such, spirits must either be worshiped or appeased. Animists offer sacrifices, prayers, dances, or other forms of devotions to these spirits in hopes of blessing upon areas of life (crops, health, fertility, etc.) or for protection from harm.
Apart from going to the pagoda three or four times a year for a ceremony, the typical Cambodian’s life is not affected that much by Buddhism. If a local Khmer really wants to get something important accomplished, like succeed in business, or get a spouse, or make someone fall in love with him, or pass an exam, or take a curse off, or be cured of a disease, he doesn’t go to the pagoda but to the local animistic shaman, the person who can really shake the unseen world that controls every single aspect of his life. And then he might give an offering of some kind to a demonic spirit. Fortune tellers set up their businesses next to the local vendors in markets places in Cambodia.
Even though Buddha himself taught against such superstition, every Cambodian home has a small god house in the front yard where incense is burned and offerings of food are presented daily. Even the Buddhist pagodas have god houses! This is pure animism. In Thailand it is even worse. The Buddhist priests themselves have become the shamans, and the Thai go to them to take off curses, exorcise demons, be successful in business, and receive healing.
In comparison with biblical Christianity, Animism is a false belief in gods who are not truly gods at all. Isaiah 45:5 teaches, "I am the Lord and there is no other, besides me there is no God." Paul was completely accurate in Romans 1:25 “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator."
Do continue to pray for us as we are daily confronted with these animistic worldview in the hearts and mind of the vast majority of people, as we serve Christ in South East Asia.
May you all experience the love of the Lord in this week to come.