PUBLISHED ON 15 JUNE, 2017 BY JULIE BOURDON Cambodia (MNN)
Despite economic growth in the last couple of decades, Cambodia continues to be one of the poorest countries in Asia. But, what would it look like to address not only the physical poverty in Cambodia, but the spiritual poverty as well?
Cambodia is a Buddhist dominant nation with nearly 90 percent of the people claiming that religion. Christianity accounts for just over one percent of the population . In this sense, Cambodia is a spiritually dark nation.
Hope: an answer to poverty Last year, we introduced you to Tom Faunce, a missionary who is passionate about sharing the Gospel in war-torn countries like Cambodia (read some of his backstory here). Faunce is a longtime friend and distributor of World Missionary Press. Over the last several years, Faunce has established contacts on the ground and the Gospel sharing ministry continues to grow. In fact, the pastor he works with in the area has been overwhelmed by the number of young Christians who want to learn more about Jesus.
So, how has that happened? What Faunce has learned over the years is that often times, people aren’t interested in what you have to say if you can’t put action behind it. Simple acts of compassion can open the doors and let people know they are truly loved and cared for.
Faunce says, “We’ve made a tremendous inroad, mainly up in the highlands on the Vietnam border, not only with the Scripture booklets, [but also with] water wells which open up a tremendous amount of villages.”
On his most recent trip, Faunce brought over fifty pairs of shoes for children in the highlands area. He wasn’t sure how the distribution would go, considering that they hadn’t taken measurements of the children. But miraculously, each and every child found a pair of shoes that fit them.
On previous trips, he and his team have installed wells in villages, some of which house several women who became widows during Cambodia’s recent violent history.
Through gifts like these, Buddhist villages that were previously resistant to the Gospel have welcomed Faunce and local Christians into their community. They utilize a variety of Gospel sharing methods including the Jesus Film, child story posters, and audio books from the Bible Alliance to share the Word of God in the villagers’ language. Additionally, in Cambodia and beyond, Faunce has been able to saturate communities with Scripture booklets from World Gospel Mission.
Faunce believes the Gospel will be able to touch and heal some of the scars left over from the war. He says, “These are people that know what it is to suffer. And people respond to love.”
But it’s not just the Buddhist communities who are embracing the Gospel. Ministering to the boat people in more recent years, they’ve also been reaching out to a group of Muslim boat people who live on the river. Upon meeting some of the fishermen one early morning, he learned that the people had many needs, and so he gave them what money and Scripture booklets he had with him. “I started going back and ended up befriending them. We started bringing the tremendous amount of needs they had.”
Many of the families slept under torn tarps, and Faunce helped them get new ones. Others were boiling grass for food, and so Faunce and his co-laborers helped to get them some rice. These acts of compassion have built a bridge between him and the boat people.
“Every trip, I’ve been going back and when I go there, they just come up and just respond. They hug us and just know that we love them. And that’s the Gospel, that you be a testimony to them and serve them.” But, Faunce says, wherever you go with the Gospel, you will face resistance. In this case, the opposition came in the form of fear. Many of the people Faunce spoke with accepted the Scripture booklets and read them, but would hide them from the rest of the community. The religious leadership was strict, and they could get in trouble for reading the Scripture. But as time went on, the people opened up to hear more about Jesus. And this, Faunce says, is the main thing.
“We can do a lot of good things — wells, feedings, clothing — but if we’re not giving the Word of God, that’s a band-aid on cancer. The answer is Jesus Christ.” In both the villages in the highlands and the community on the river, Faunce continues to share the Gospel and witness the change it is making in Cambodia. Even so, he says he doesn’t try to count the number of people responding. “God knows,” he says. “The important thing is to reach out, [and] begin to establish a fellowship with them.”
In between trips, a young couple Faunce has made friends with continues the outreach to both the boat people and the villages in the hills. “And that’s our goal, is to continually show up and love them. And the Bible says some plant, some water, but He alone brings the increase.”
Check back in later to learn about Faunce’s upcoming trip to Africa and how you can be praying. In the meantime, if you’d like to support this work, consider partnering with World Missionary Press. This ministry supplies missionaries like Faunce with free Scripture booklets so they can share the Gospel wherever they go. Click here for more information. He says, “It is such a tremendous blessing to have ministries such as World Missionary Press that provide the Word.”
And will you pray? Ask God to bless this ministry, to provide the leadership to lead new Christians, and to change Cambodia from a broken country to one transformed by the Gospel.
"A few months back, the spirit of sharing that l saw being exhibited by these little ones was so touching; for even when they were hungry, they shared among themselves the little they had. It was obvious that what was at hand was not enough for just even one person! This communicates volumes.
1 John 3:16-19 'We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. So we ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion-how can GOD's love be in that person? Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before GOD.'
Please pray for our upcoming Outreach with Frontline Ministries. With the LORD's provision, we shall reach the little ones with Love, clothing, etc., and the Word of hope using Scripture booklets from World Missionary Press..
In serving the LORD, our entire focus is to move forward always since the onus is on us to live to the expectations of our Father in Heaven.
Every influential person on earth was once a helpless baby. Every oak once was an acorn, and every great structure was once a mere blue print on paper. No matter where we stay or come from, once we walk and talk to the LORD faithfully, with all our hearts, bodies, souls and minds, He listens and responds.
Therefore, it’s not where we are today, but where we are going that counts, for there is always Light at the end of the tunnel. John 1:5 "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it."
Shared by Mike Prieur on Albert Kisembo's Facebook Page, WMP Ambassador in Uganda
My testimony: I was raised in somewhat of a religious and very patriotic family in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. My father was a WWII and Korean War veteran who always loved America and our veterans. My older brother was the first Born Again Christian in our family and we all assumed that he had gotten religious. I did not really understand what it meant to be born again in the late 1970's, but he planted the seed of God's Grace and Salvation and kept praying for us.
I joined the Navy back in 1980 and and met several Born Again Christians. I remained a little confused about these Born Again Christians, until one day when I was cleaning our berthing compartment (where 80 other sailors and I slept) and picked up a Christian tract. I read a passage from the tract that said, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." and "You must be Born Again". See Romans 3:23 and John 3:3. John 3:3.
I kept on reading, and it said... "What is your answer?" I said the prayer, believed that I was a sinner, and received Christ Jesus into my Heart. I signed it on 11-25-82, and have been growing and loving the Lord Jesus Christ ever since. I'm a retired Navy veteran who has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly things in this world. I know that the Lord has always been with me and shall be for all eternity.
I hope that all those in your life, who need Jesus, will receive Him and be Blessed in this life and the next.
-Rick DiLoretto, USN Retired, WMP Ambassador in Hawaii
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