THE WELCHS GRAPEVINE
For The Glory of GOD!
Greetings from Phnom Penh, Cambodia Volume 8, Number 2, February, 2013
Dearest family & friends,
Warmest greetings from the sunny skies of Phnom Penh, Cambodia! We pray you are well, finding peace and comfort in the blessings of our Lord and Savior. We continue to be encouraged by the love that each of you pour out on us and express our sincere thanks. Thank you so much for your involvement in missions here in Cambodia. We welcome visitors and would be delighted if you come! “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Here’s what’s in this issue:
- Encouraging the CBI Grads in Battambang
- Visiting Teachers at the Cambodia Bible Institute
- New Staff for the SNACK Program
- King Father Sihanouk’s Funeral Ceremony
- Theary’s 21st Birthday
- R&R Trip to Siem Reap
The Lord continues to bless the University church in Phnom Penh. This congregation locally oversees the work of ten ministers, evangelists and missionaries. Two of the missionaries have worked together to plant a church near their home towns in the western province of Battambang. Cambodia Bible Institute graduates, Sokun and Soklee have taught and baptized 13 new Christians to plant a thriving new church in the village of Tuol Prum. The University church has selected Dennis to be liaison to these brothers and their work, especially in the area of missionary care—missionaries helping missionaries toward effective service to our Lord. We recently traveled to Battambang to encourage these missionaries and the congregation. The crowd on Sunday morning included many children and adults, some of whom were not yet saved. After our Spirit-filled worship of God and remembrance of what Jesus has done for us, we shared a delicious fellowship meal together. These brothers are doing a fine work for the Lord. I really think that we were encouraged more than them. Please join our prayer that God blesses the Tuol Prum congregation with effective works for Him and that other new congregations will be born in Cambodia as a result of the power of the Gospel message. Also pray about Sokun and Soklee’s request for help concerning clean water for the church to distribute freely to Tuol Prum villagers. Write us if you would like more info.
NOTE: Starting a count from the date of our arrival in Cambodia four and a half years ago, the students and graduates of CBI have planted more than a dozen new churches. God is truly blessing the efforts of His servants in Cambodia by showing us all the abundant fruit He is gathering.
The Cambodia Bible Institute has three full-time teachers, Rich Dolan, Veasna Tol and Dennis. However, CBI relies heavily on gifted brothers from abroad to assist in teaching our students. Recently, Rich’s father-in-law, Loren Hollingsworth from Alaska taught the students courses in “The Work of a Preacher” and Galatians, while Bob Jackson, from Lubbock, TX taught 2nd Corinthians. We know that both men and their wives really enjoyed their work among us. Bob and Sandy Jackson accompanied us on our trip to Battambang and were delighted to see what the Lord is doing among that church in Tuol Prum through brothers he had taught at CBI. Please pray with us that other able men will come to teach our students and that brethren will provide the resources for them to come give of themselves among us. Read more about CBI at randrdolan.blogspot.com.
We love serving the Lord through the efforts of the SNACK Program. While blessing the children is very rewarding, part of our enjoyment comes from the staff. Sharon has hired three of the CBI graduates to serve the Program and the children, plus a fourth man who comes to us with three years experience teaching Bible to children.
Kolab, our only sister currently working with SNACK, has been with us since shortly after she graduated from CBI in 2012. She has a sweet, gentle spirit and loves to teach the children. When the need arose, Kolab stepped-up to learn to drive the SNACK trucks! She is really doing a good job and has been like Sharon’s assistant with many facets of the operation. Sopheap comes to the Program after his training at CBI and about a year of follow-up ministry in the countryside among the village churches, many of which are also SNACK villages. He too has a sweet, gentle spirit and has been a blessing to the children and the Program. Ranut, a December 2012 graduate of CBI comes from the village of Krang Dong where another graduate planted a church, taught and baptized Ranut and sent him to CBI. He is engaged to a sweet Christian young lady and serves the SNACK Program with boldness and courage. Noeurn comes to us as a Christian who has significant teaching experience, especially to children. We recently discovered that he and Kolab are boyfriend/girlfriend and engaged. The Lord has really blessed Sharon with a fine group of His servants. NOTE: Sharon has also added an Operations Manager to start March 1—details next month. Please cry out to the Lord on behalf of our staff. Also, please join our prayer that the Lord is raising up other of His children to serve the precious, poor, malnourished children of Cambodia through the SNACK Program.
The SNACK Program had continued to use the original old trucks purchased when the Program was begun more than five years ago. Two of those trucks need to be replaced, because they are breaking-down too frequently, sometimes stranding the staff in the countryside far from mechanics or repair shops. One (not in use) is currently in need of so many repairs that we do not think it good stewardship to put more money into this tired old truck. Together with the Central Church of Christ in Stockton, CA, we need to raise $16,000 to purchase the two used replacements. Please pray that the Lord will provide for our needs concerning all that the SNACK Program strives to do to serve these children.
Cambodian Buddhist culture has many differences from American culture. High in the list of differences concerns the dead, and not just for kings, but for everyone. The custom dictates that seven days after death, the mourners travel with the body to the Buddhist Temple (Wat) where a cremation ceremony is performed. One hundred days after death there is another ceremony to remember the deceased person. King Father Norodom Sihanouk died of a heart attack in Beijing, China on October 15, 2012. For the King Father this custom concerning the dead was modified for the body of the king to remain displayed “in state” for those one hundred days. His body was cremated on February 4 in an elaborate multi-day ceremony at the palace. This was the most important cultural event to occur in Cambodia in many, many years. Read more on voacambodia.com.
Many of you know we have a background in auto racing, but continue on today as spectators only. As we travel the roads of Cambodia with our daughter, Theary, we have noted how she loves to “go fast.” On February 2, 2013 she turned 21 years old. To celebrate we treated her to two go-kart tracks for a day of fun. We have lived here nearly five years and had never visited those places. While Sharon and Dennis spent much of the time “racing” each other, Theary spent a considerable time doing other things. For instance, did you know that go-karts are fun to drive off-road too? As Sharon rounded one corner, she was surprised to see old tires flying at her from another part of the track. Theary had collided with those track boundary edge tires and they flew across the grass toward Sharon. It seems that she likes to go too fast. Her driving experience is limited to riding about on a 50cc motor scooter. She had lots of fun acquiring her first experience on four wheels. The two of us had so much fun that we went back later to one those places as a Valentine’s Day treat to one another. Happy Birthday Theary! You are a delightful young woman and a great Christian example to your peers.
Finally, the month of February afforded us an opportunity to get away for a few days to the tourist destination of Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. For this trip we decided to visit a few of the places we had never had time to visit before. We spent a full day in the National Museum and another day traveling to Kulen Mountain which was the birthplace of the ancient Khmer Empire in A.D.804, the source for the sandstone used to build temples, and a source of water for Angkor Wat and Siem Reap. We are grateful that the Lord provides us opportunities like this to learn about this culture and its history while we are renewed and refreshed. Please pray that the Lord keeps us healthy and encouraged concerning our work and that we exercise balance in our lives concerning our workload.
We are delighted to bring you this news from Cambodia. Each month is filled with many more events and details—some delightful, while others are hurdles. It encourages so much that we don’t do this alone. We are thankful to our God that His Spirit dwells in us and with us. We are grateful to you to stand beside us and behind us as we serve Cambodia, you and the Lord. Grace and Peace to you all!
Eternal love & blessings,
Dennis & SharonPhnom Penh, Cambodia JesusServant4U@yahoo.com missioncambodia.wordpress.com
If you would like to download a .pdf version of this newsletter click HERE.