Dear Prayer Partners,
Extra long prayer letter here, but we thought we would share some of our experiences and some of our PPBS students this time.
Last month, Susanna, one of Martha's friends was at our house helping Martha prepare a meal and joined with us and other friends that Thursday evening. On Friday, a widower asked her parents for her hand in marriage. They agreed and Susanna was told on Saturday, when she gave her consent. It was quite a shock to us when we got the call and invitation to join in the wedding festivities. They were married on Sunday and we attended the wedding dinner. She was at our house on Monday telling us about her new life. Typically, Susanna dressed modern and colorfully yet modestly. So we were quite surprised to see her dressed in all black from head to toe, as per her husband's desire. She only disagreed with his request to cover her entire face, showing only her eyes. In return for this marriage agreement, her new husband has helped provide some of the money for her parents to go on the Haji to Mecca, which is one of the five rules of being a good Mslm. All of this dress code, going on the Haji, along with much of daily life is a desire to build merit, (and women follow these rules to increase their husband's merit as well) so that hopefully you can get less years in Hell as well as hope to get into the select few who make it to Heaven. Susanna told Martha that there are levels of people, but only the highest level gets to heaven while the other levels must spend many years in Hell to pay off their sins. This gave Martha the opportunity to share the good news with Susanna especially in view of the sacrifice holiday that was coming up.
Susanna and Martha at
her wedding dinner.
In our village, the people sacrificed at least 30 cows, placing their hands on the head and slicing the neck in such a way that they believe they will receive more merit getting them closer to possibly pleasing Alh enough that He will let them into Heaven. They do this in remembrance of Abraham who obeyed God by being willing to sacrifice his son, while they do not hold any significance to the fact that God provided the ram as a sacrifice instead of his son, pointing to Christ's sacrifice on the cross instead of our death as well. Martha pointed out that Abraham's obedience was not only tying up his son to sacrifice him, but was believing God and willingly receiving the substitute sacrifice that God provided instead. Susanna was stunned to think of the idea that Abraham might have been so focused on his own personal goodness that He might have rejected the ram, given by God, so that He could fulfill his religious responsibility. Pray for Susanna, and many of our Mslm friends, who recently celebrated the Eid al-Adha (or the al-Ḥijja) by sacrificing many animals in order to gain merit with Alh, while not yet receiving God's substitute sacrifice of the "lamb who takes away the sins of the world."
Over the past two months, God has led us to two men and one youth whose hearts were ready to receive truth, each of whom believed the first time they heard the gospel. The difficulty is following up with them as they live in top-down control villages, where not only the religious leaders make sure that everyone is living and acting like a good Mslm, but where the people believe that they personally will lose and gain merit with Alh due to how they make sure their neighbors and others are being good Mslms. This makes it difficult to visit new believers in their homes in order to disciple them further. Pray for creativity in this and pray for these men to grow through Scriptures (although only one of these men is literate). Pray for these two men named Omar and Matthew.
PPBS semester is over, and this past semester I have again had the privilege of teaching "Evangelism." Some of our students testify of God's Spirit pouring out boldness and love into their hearts for the lost. Here are a couple of students’ testimonies:
Charles said, "I asked a friend a question about his soul. God had prepared his heart and he accepted Christ that day."
Samuel said, "I started a bible study in the home of a friend. After four weeks he gave his life to Jesus and is now growing strong in his faith."
Hank said, "I mentioned starting a weekly bible study with my soccer team that I coach. They agreed and we are now studying Bible stories together every week. Some of the players are starting to have a real hunger to know more."
Alan with some of his evangelism
Please pray for all of these students as they lead churches and/or ministries all over our Country. Pray for the church leaders all over our Country to have unity and growth in knowing and walking with God.
Amos is a Christian leader amongst the few believing Chm/Mslm people of our country (this people group is a different language and people from the Chvea Mslms whom we live among). Recently some of these Chm believers came together for a seminar for encouragement and worship together. Most of these Chm believers came from different villages where they are the only followers of Jesus in their village. This means that they do not worship or fellowship regularly with other believers, so this retreat was a great encouragement for them. I was very encouraged by these former Mslms faith as well as having the privilege of taking part in teaching about how to share the gospel in their context. Pray for a great harvest amongst the Chm Mslms of our Country. Also, pray for us as we are trying to develop tools for Mslms to help reach their people.
Praise God for the way He continues to provide for all our kids. Matt and Steph are in the States enjoying our newest little grandson, Micaiah, along with our other two grandsons, Gabe and River. They plan to return to Thailand in January trusting God to open up the "visa" doors. Zech and Tina are enjoying their new work and home in Greenville, SC. Nathan in Lancaster, PA is finishing up his senior year at LBC and God provided good transportation for him. Mark is enjoying his year at Trinity Western in Vancouver, Canada and we praise God for the love and care He has shown our kids. We miss them and are looking forward to seeing them in December for a quick visit to the States.
We sense at all times our weakness and appreciate your prayers for us and for the Chwea people of Kampot. God works through your prayers bathing us in the power of His Spirit to accomplish the work He has for us to do. It is true Spirit work and we could not do it alone. Thank you for praying for us and giving to share the gospel with others.
Much love to you all,
Alan, Martha and family.
(Note: Names have been changed for security purposes)