Thursday, December 22, 2011

Adjustments Part Eight- Troubling Sights and Experiences

It is a common sight in Phnom Penh. Young boys, some as young as seven or eight years of age, walking casually through the streets holding a clear plastic bag filled with a light yellow colored liquid. Every few seconds they lift the bag to their mouths and inhale the fumes from the bag. That yellow liquid is glue, and the damage it does to these boys is devastating. It is just a cheap way for these children to escape their chaotic, tragic lives.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Blessing of a Faithful Pastor

My wife and I were looking through some pictures from the past year, when I came across this picture from my ordination service. This is my pastor, Derik Lawrence, doing what he has done countless times in my life- giving me words of wisdom and praying with me. This picture captures the influence that Pastor Lawrence has had on my life. He was my youth pastor throughout my middle and high school years. During that time of my life, God used Pastor Lawrence to instill principles from the Word of God into my heart that have never departed from me. He modeled faithfulness, joy in the ministry, biblical preaching, and a genuine heart for God. And he is still modeling those things today. Today, most of those who grew up in Pastor Lawrence's youth ministry are still faithfully serving the Lord. I will never forget Pastor Lawrence's influence in my life, and I will continue to cherish the influence that he has on my life to this day as my pastor. I love you, Pastor Lawrence!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Learning to Lean

Here are some areas in my life that I am learning to lean on the Lord. More than any other time in my life, I am learning that apart from God's grace I am absolutely void of all ability to serve Christ effectively and faithfully. The following are areas in my life that I have had to throw my hands up in the air and say, "Lord, I don't know how to do this. I don't know what to do. I don't know what to say. You must guide me through this. In fact, Lord, You must do it."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Adjustments Part Seven- The Weight of Words

I am figuring out quickly that some words in the English language that are not so "heavy" actually carry quite a bit of weight when translated into Khmer. Unfortunately for me, the way that I have learned about this important aspect of the language has not been so much from my language teacher, but from my own ignorant usage of these words in public. I will just say that I have had a couple of "Well, stink!" moments in the past couple of weeks because of offensive things I have said unintentionally.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

September/October 2011 Prayer Letter/Update

Dear Pastors and Praying Friends                                                                        September/October 2011

                  The past two months have been a whirlwind! I don’t know if I have ever worked harder than I have worked over the past two months; but I will tell you that serving the Lord in Cambodia, while there are certainly challenges, is a most rewarding work. Thank you for all who pray for us. I have sensed God’s grace to do things that are far beyond my capacity, and I readily give Him the honor that is due to Him and Him alone.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I Can Sense His Enabling

It is hard to believe the Benefields have been in the States for one month already. How strange it was one month ago to be the one taking them to the airport to say goodbye to them before they flew to the States. I must admit, driving back home from the airport without them was a strange feeling. It reminded me of the feeling I had when I first jumped into the deep end of the swimming pool; or the feeling I had when I wrestled my first match in 8th grade. As I drove back late that Wednesday night of September 21, I distinctly remember thinking as I looked around the city of Phnom Penh, "What am I doing here? Am I really on the other side of the world with the responsibility of overseeing this great ministry that God has used Bro. Benefield to start and lead over the past eight years? I can't do this."

Monday, September 12, 2011

August 2011 Prayer Letter/Update

Dear Pastors and Praying Friends,                                                                                                        

I am thrilled to write this prayer letter/update from our home in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. After spending longer than we had originally planned in Bangkok, it was a sweet feeling to walk through the front door of our house with a new, healthy addition to our family- Emily Faith Phillips. She was born on August 17, weighing just over 7 pounds, and was 20.5 inches long. As you can see in the picture below, Ellie and Judson love her very much. We are so blessed!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"The Grace That God Gives"

I hope you will enjoy this traditional Khmer style Christian song entitled, "The Grace That God Gives." This is my absolute favorite song that we sing at Good News Baptist Church in Phnom Penh.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

We're Back Home!

How blessed we are to be back home here in Phnom Penh! After two and a half months in Bangkok, it was an amazing feeling to walk inside our front door with a new addition to the family. We arrived on Friday, August 26, and spent Saturday getting settled back into the house. Sunday, we were thrilled to see the church family again, and God truly blessed us with some marvelous services. Five people followed Christ in baptism, two of whom were led to Christ by members of the church. In the children's club on Sunday afternoon, I was so thankful to see two children whom I invited a few months ago and came one time, only to have their mother forbid them from coming again. Apparently she had a change of heart while we were in Bangkok, because those two children- a brother and sister, 10 and 8 years old respectively- were back and having the time of their lives singing, playing the games, and listening to the Gospel.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Emily Faith Phillips

Praise the Lord, on August 17, 2011, at 6:51 a.m., Emily Faith Phillips was born into the Phillips family. She is our third child, and we thank God for another precious one on whom we can pour out our love, and whom we can bring up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. She was 7 pounds, 3 ounces, and 20.5 inches in length. Praise God, it was, according to Linda, the smoothest delivery of the three she has experienced. Thank you for praying for us.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Video Update from Bangkok

My pastor, Derik Lawrence, asked me to put together a video update for my church family this past week. I thought those who read my blog would be interested to hear the update as well as see some photos from Phnom Penh and Bangkok. Please, no comments about the vanishing of my hair. :) Much thanks for my wife for intercutting the pictures into the video.

Update from Bangkok from Chad and Linda Phillips on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Verse of Hope for Cambodians

Psalm 96:10- Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.

One of the most difficult concepts of the Gospel for Cambodians to actually believe is that there is a Righteous Judge Who will one day hold every person who rejects Christ accountable for his sins. The idea of real justice makes some Khmers laugh in disbelief. Living in a country in which a few filthy rich, corrupt politicians literally get away with theft and murder without ever answering to anyone has a way of dulling the understanding of what true justice is. This has always been the situation in Cambodia.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Adjustments Part Six- The Cultural Difference in Conversations

Being raised by parents who hailed from Arkansas and Mississippi, and growing up mostly in Georgia, I am by nature a Southerner. My Southern culture is a key influence that shaped my view of what is and what is not acceptable in casual conversations. It is, as I have always believed, completely acceptable to ask questions such as the following when getting to know someone:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cultural Do's and Don'ts for Any Mission Field

The following list of Do's and Don'ts was written by Pastor Austin Gardner, pastor of Vision Baptist Church in Alpharetta, GA. Bro. Gardner served as a church planting missionary in Peru for over twenty years before God lead him back to the States to start Vision Baptist. God used him mightily in Peru, and to this day the ministry God allowed him to start is thriving, and Peruvians reached through the ministry have been sent all over the world as missionaries. Not only does Bro. Gardner pastor a growing church, but he invests his life into training men for the mission field.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cadillacs and Volkswagens

The following is an excerpt from a book I am reading entitled Loving God by Charles Colson. I read this and thought, "Do our independent Baptist churches in America think this way?"

"During 1975, the church (Eastminster Presbyterian Church of Wichita, Kansas), then 850 members, had raised $500,000 for an addition to its always-crowded sanctuary. The architect's drawings were nearly completed and the members were excited about the imminent construction. 

"Then a missions conference was held at the church, and a missionary from Guatemala showed slides of the terrible devastation from the massive earthquake which had hit that country two weeks earlier. Villages were totally wiped out; everything was in rubble, including what had once been small but growing mission churches.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

You've Got To Be Kidding Me

God has blessed us by allowing us to meet a family from Cambodia who is staying four floors above us in the apartment complex in Bangkok. It is a man and his wife in their early fifties, and she is receiving treatment for a back injury at the same hospital where Emily Faith will be born. Also staying with them is her younger sister, who has accompanied them in order to be their full time chef.

We met several weeks ago, and we immediately took a liking to each other. One day, I went up to their room to say hello, and after having a nice visit, they gave me some Khmer food to give to Linda. That was about three weeks ago, and scarcely has a day gone by in which they didn't prepare a meal for us. I would guess that they have provided around fifteen meals for us over the past three weeks.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Do You Have Any More of Those...?"

We were doing our weekly shopping at the nearby grocery store, and, as always, people were admiring our children. Usually, I have Judson in my cart, and Linda has Elisabeth; and there is never a dull moment shopping with these two characters. Linda was just a few yards away from me at the end of the aisle, and I heard and saw one of the security guards say the word, "Sa-aht!" pointing at Elisabeth. That is the Khmer word for "beautiful." I had seen that security guard dozens of times, and I always assumed he was Thai. I quickly pushed the shopping cart to where Linda, Elisabeth, and the security guard were standing, and asked him in English, "Did you just say, 'Sa-aht?'" The only word he understood out of that sentence was the word "sa-aht." I then blurted out in Khmer, "Do you speak Khmer?" He literally just looked at me and started laughing. I asked again, "Do you speak Khmer?" After laughing in disbelief for a few more seconds, he finally answered, "Yes!" When I asked him where he was from, I was shocked when he said, "Phnom Penh." And just like that, an opportunity to give the Gospel to this young Cambodian man named Tew-un was placed in my hands. But because I had no Khmer tracts with me at the time, and because he was on the clock, it would be a couple of days before I could act on that opportunity.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My First Attempt at Writing a Tract

I have spent the last three days writing a tract that I hope to translate in Khmer when we return to Cambodia in the next couple of weeks. Praise the Lord, there are already many good Gospel tracts in Khmer that have been greatly used by God. My motivation for writing this tract was not because I had nothing better to do, or to try and replace any of the good tracts that have already been written. My motivation for writing this tract stems from a problem that I encounter with so many Cambodians: believing that outward acts of goodness, also known as merit making, is equivalent to being an inherently good person. There are a couple of huge challenges that we face when giving the Gospel to Cambodians. First, Cambodians are indoctrinated from the time they are babies to "kluen dtee-pung kluen"- depend upon yourself. Because Buddhism has no personal God to whom we are accountable, and because life teaches all of us that people cannot be trusted, Cambodians grow up believing that they themselves are their only way of salvation. Another challenge that stems from Buddhism is the doctrine of "twer bpuen, baan bpuen; twer agrock, baan agrock"- do good, get good; do bad, get bad. This is the doctrine of karma. This is the primary reason I wrote this tract, and it is vital to understand this problem if you are going to effectively witness in Cambodia.Cambodians believe that as long as the outward actions are good, then the content of the heart does not matter. I wrote this tract to counter this falsehood. That the condition of the heart is as important as the outward actions of a person is a foreign concept to most Cambodians. I pray that we can see this tract printed, and that it will be used of God to open some Cambodians' eyes to the truth about themselves and about Christ.

June/July 2011 Prayer Letter/Update

Dear Pastors and Praying Friends,                                                                                                     

We are still awaiting the birth of Emily Faith in Bangkok, Thailand. We visited the doctor today, and he said the birth could take place literally any time. He has had Linda on some medication that has prevented her from having contractions; but now that she has reached 36 weeks in the pregnancy, he has taken her off the medication.  So it is literally just a matter of days until we get to meet Emily Faith!

We are certainly eager to get back to our home, Cambodia, and pick up where we left off. Although God has temporarily placed us out of our normal place of ministry, we have seen His providential hand at work during our time in Bangkok. Here are some ways that God has allowed us to spread His Word in Thailand:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thoughts about God's Precepts, Liberal Pundits, and Carbon Monoxide

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey, and the honeycomb.

We live in a day in which antinomianism is on the rise.  Liberal pundits like Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann, and Rachel Maddow daily launch attacks against the God-given principles that Christians live by. To them, as well as to most political and theological liberals of this day, God-given morals such as sexual purity before marriage, absolute faithfulness in marriage, modesty, and personal holiness in general are hilarious jokes to be laughed at at best, and Victorian aged, pointless traditions to be torn down at worst.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Heritage of Emily Faith's Name

Each of our children has been given a name that carries with it a godly heritage. Elisabeth was named after Elisabeth Elliot, a woman who has been greatly used by God both as a missionary and a Christian author. Judson was named after Adoniram Judson, the first American missionary to leave the shores of our blessed country. Our third child, who is to be born in just a couple of weeks, has been given the name Emily Faith; and like her older siblings, her name carries with it a godly heritage.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Adjustments Part Five- Weird Questions and Direct Insults

The following accounts of my conversations with two different Cambodian ladies are examples of some of the bizarre questions I have been asked and the in-your-face, blast-you-out-of-the-water insults I have received since moving to Cambodia.

What We Miss about Cambodia

As we draw closer to the birth of our third precious child, and as we enter our second month in Bangkok, we are not only thrilled about this new addition to our family; we are also eager beyond description to be back at home in Cambodia. It seems a bit strange that I am having these feelings about Cambodia. Humanly speaking, there is really nothing about Cambodia that should draw a Georgia-boy like me. Whether it be the utter chaos of the traffic, the abundance of open sewers, the sight of abject poverty, or the various "interesting" smells, there is really no earthly reason why I should be homesick for Cambodia. But I truly believe that when a person knows he is exactly where God wants him to be, he cannot help but fall in love with that place, and with the people of that place. The following are just a few reasons why we are missing Cambodia dearly right now.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

God's Unique Teaching Methods

At 1:00 this afternoon, we reached that highly anticipated point of the day that Linda and I always look forward to- Ellie's and Judson's nap time. Now, don't misunderstand. We cherish our children, and we enjoy them. But the truth is that while Ellie and Judson are at large, Linda's rest and my productivity are nearly impossible to accomplish. And there is only one solution that can allow Linda to find the relaxation she needs and me the opportunity to work productively- nap time for Ellie and Judson.

Update from Bangkok

We have been in Bangkok for almost a month already. We thank God that He has provided the necessary funds to sustain us while we have been away from home. We are aching to get back to Phnom Penh, but we know that for this time we must be here.

Being in Bangkok has been a tremendous physical help to Linda. The apartment where we are staying is substantially cooler than our apartment in Phnom Penh. Part of that is due to the fact that it is a slightly cooler climate here; part is due to the fact that our apartment in Phnom Penh is adjacent to a tin roof that deflects the heat directly into our house, turning our living room into an oven of sorts. Living in Cambodia, we became accustomed to constantly sweating.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Adjustments Part Four- Humor

I love to laugh. I love to joke. I like slapstick humor, corny humor, dry humor, sarcastic humor, and even puns. I love to laugh with others, and if I can brighten someone's day by making them laugh, I do. Khmer people love to laugh; but they don't always get my humor. The following is a classic example of my attempting to joke with a Khmer in my own weird way, and utterly and awkwardly failing.

Monday, June 27, 2011

"Those People Love Us"

Tomorrow, June 28, we will buy lunch and eat with the maintenance staff of the apartment where we are staying in Bangkok. Four of the ten people we will be eating with speak Khmer, and the other six speak exclusively Thai. The Lord put this idea on my heart a few days ago, and I am praying that this time of fellowship will help us cultivate a good relationship with all of these people, and that it will help prepare their hearts for the time that I will, Lord-willing, speak to them about Christ.

Waiting in Bangkok

The grey building in the very center of this photo- with the bright green writing in the building's top, left corner- is Sumitivej Hospital, where, Lord-willing, Emily Faith will be born in just a few weeks. This picture was taken from the roof of the apartment building where we are staying.

Our current situation is not what I would have picked for our family. Because Linda is showing signs of a premature delivery, we have come to Bangkok, Thailand to receive proper medical care for Linda and the baby in the case of premature birth. Because of airline policies, we would have had to fly here one month before the baby's due date even under normal circumstances; but under doctor's orders, we have come about three weeks earlier than originally planned. As we wait for the arrival of our third child, I cannot help but think, "I was sent to Cambodia to work, not to wait."

Saturday, June 18, 2011

We Can Talk!

For the past week, I have been constantly frustrated because of my inability to converse with Thai people.  It's enough to make me pull out what little hair I have left! I'm not frustrated with the Thai people; I'm just frustrated with the whole situation. I wish I could just learn enough Thai to at least discuss some of the shallower things of life. Of course, my heart's desire is to learn enough to speak with them about Christ; but just to speak with them at all about something simple would be a great start!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I remember well my first visit to Cambodia. It was June of 2006, and I was within months of beginning my senior year at West Coast Baptist College. When the plane touched down at the Pochentong International Airport of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I had not the faintest idea what to expect from this strange, distant land. After getting my visa and gathering my luggage, I walked out the doors of the airport and I breathed my first breath of Cambodian air. Within moments, I had the feeling that I was in a completely different world. It was anything but home.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Adjustments Part Three- Khmer

This adjustment seems so obvious that it is scarcely worth mentioning. But I must say that this adjustment- learning the Khmer language- is a more formidable task than I ever imagined. Although God granted me the opportunity to lay a good foundation in the language before we ever moved here, adding to that foundation has proven to be one of the greatest challenges of my life.

The reality of this challenge is most keenly sensed when I am given the opportunity to preach. I cannot begin to describe the feelings that take place in my heart- and in my gut- before I stand in front of our church family and visitors to preach the Word of God in Khmer. Just knowing that I am about to spend 35 to 40 minutes struggling to clearly present God's Word in the Khmer language causes me to become more nervous than I have been in a very long time. Truly, this is a situation in which I must fully rely on God's grace to carry me through. Perhaps not having an opportunity to rely on any ability of my own is exactly what God has in mind.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Adjustments Part Two- Traffic Anarchy

This adjustment is not as spiritually significant as the first mentioned adjustment in this series. But it does carry its fair share of significance as far as my peace of mind is concerned. First of all, my primary mode of transportation has shifted from minivan to motorcycle. Secondly, gone are the days of driving in a country in which, for the most part, the traffic laws are both followed and enforced. You may say, "What are you talking about? There are all sorts of reckless drivers in America!" I know there are reckless drivers in the States; but the only rebuttal I have to that remark is, "You haven't lived in Cambodia; therefore, you don't know the meaning of reckless driving."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Adjustments Part One- Poverty

This being the first post of this series, there is a plethora of examples of adjustments that we are making that I could write about. But the adjustment that seems the most difficult to deal with right now is living in a country in which most of its citizens live under the poverty level. Here are just a few specific things I am struggling with right now:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I thank God for the nearly six years of experience working with Khmer people before we moved to Cambodia. It has proven to be invaluable. Bro. Benefield made a great point a few days ago when he told me, "You will probably never know what it is like to move to a country and literally know nothing of the language or culture when you arrive. I had to go through that 11 years ago. But you probably won't." Truly, being married into a Khmer family, working for several years with Khmers in southern California, and already spending two months in Cambodia in previous years have proven to be beneficial experiences.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Great Sunday

We had a blessed Sunday this week. God allowed me to preach my first sermon in Khmer, and I sensed His enabling. I preached from 1 Thessalonians 1, and used the example of the Thessalonian Christians to encourage our church family in the following three areas:

1. Even though they experienced affliction, they had joy. (v. 6)
2. After salvation, they continued to walk with God and grow in Christ. (v. 7) We see in this verse that these Christians, although they were newly saved, became examples of what a Christian should be.
3. Because their relationship with God was right, their actions were right. (v. 8) We see that these Christians took the Gospel everywhere, so much that Paul said, "Hey, you guys have this area covered!"

Then, on Sunday afternoon, we had an awesome Bible club with 55 children in attendance. Here's one of the biggest blessings about the Bible club: there were over 20 first time attenders, all children whom we met the day before while soul winning. On Saturday morning, about 8 or 9 of us went out soul winning for a couple of hours.

First Khmer Sermon

*Please note: If you choose to watch this on YouTube instead of watching it from the blog, there will be suggestions for other videos on the YouTube website that I do not condone. Therefore, I recommend that you just watch this video from this blog if possible.

*I was told by a couple of people that they could not see the video from the blog. If you are having trouble seeing the video, copy and paste this link into your web browser to watch it on YouTube:

Friday, April 22, 2011

She's Doing Great Today

I didn't know her well. I met Aing, a 14 year old Cambodian girl who was saved at the Grom-jom-nom Baptist Dom-nung La-Awe- Good News Baptist Church- of Phnom Penh. I had the privilege of meeting her and her younger cousins when I took my first trip to Cambodia in 2006. She is the tallest child in the picture, directly behind me. One memory about this family that has stuck with me over the past five years is that these are truly red-headed Cambodians.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gospel Centrality

I have noticed the terms "Gospel centrality" and "Gospel-centeredness" used quite frequently on several blogs and on many tweets as of late. Frankly, I like the terms. The Gospel is the message that changed my life. The Gospel is the only message that has the power to change this world. I am all about having a Gospel-centered life and a Gospel-centered ministry.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Observations from Our First Two Weeks in Cambodia

It is hard for us to believe that we have already been in Cambodia for two weeks. It seems like yesterday we were just beginning deputation, and the thought of actually living in Cambodia was only an abstract idea, an event that would take place in the distant future. And now two weeks of living in Cambodia have passed, and we are truly thankful to our Heavenly Father for bringing us this far. The following is simply a compilation of some various observations I have made during our first two weeks in Cambodia.

  • Everyone to whom I have offered a tract has taken one. Now, that does not mean that every person that has received a tract is interested in Christ. In fact, I would venture to say that most people who receive a tract are just interested in receiving something from a foreigner who speaks their language. But in any case, most Cambodians are willing to take a tract, and even listen to an introduction to the Gospel. Sadly, when it comes down to showing serious, genuine interest in learning more of Christ, most will either say, "I'm too busy to learn more," or "I am a Cambodian; therefore, I am a Buddhist."
  • After living in Long Beach, California (a very densely populated suburb of Los Angeles) for two years, I thought that was crowded. Compared to Phnom Penh, Long Beach seems rather rural. (Okay, that is a bit of an overstatement.) I have never lived in a place where there was a higher concentration of people than this place.
  • It is quite hot here. We have had to grow accustomed to living in a perpetual state of sweating- both inside the house and outside. Even our air conditioning unit has a hard time overcoming the heat of this place, although it does help. No complaints; it's just a part of living in Cambodia.
  • I don't think I will ever get over the poverty in this place. In the States, I don't recall ever going soul winning in an area where I had to step over an open sewer to get to someone's house. Here, I did just that two Saturdays ago. Honestly, I am struggling with knowing that when most Cambodians look at me, they don't see a person who cares about them; often times, they see someone who has a lot of money. I am no better than these people. I just want to develop genuine friendships with them, and most importantly, give them the Gospel; but in the minds of many, I will never be one of them, even if I speak their language.
  • I thank God for the family that we are working with. The Benefields have been our good friends for close to five years. I don't know of anyone in the ministry that I agree with more in doctrine, philosophy, and spirit than Stephen Benefield. They have been more than a blessing to us as we have been settling in to our new house and this new culture. Mrs. Benefield has been such a blessing to Linda in so many ways. And their children are just awesome! After being in the country for over ten years, the Benefields have maintained a sweet, humble spirit. I believe that is one of the reasons God is using them in such a great way.
  • I thank God for the church that we are working in. "Grom-jom-nom Baptist Dom-nung La-awe"- Good News Baptist Church- is filled with some of the most wonderful Christians I have ever known. It is an incredible thought to me that just a few years ago, most of these precious people were lost, on their way to hell, and knew nothing of the joy of the Lord. Now, there are young families, elderly men and women, children small and big, and single college students who have been saved by the grace of God, and who are some of the most joyful people in all the world.
These are just a few of my initial observations. I'm sure I will have many more in the future. I look forward to sharing them.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Revival in Bakersfield, California

God greatly blessed during the revival meeting at McKee Road Baptist Church in Bakersfield, California- the church where Linda and I were married nearly four years ago. The pastor is one of my dearest friends in the ministry- Fred Fies. He and his family have faithfully served at MRBC for over five years now, and they have seen God do some wonderful things.

I had never preached a revival meeting before, and I truly felt inadequate. But God, through His Spirit, directed me to 1 Thessalonians 1, and gave me the exact messages He wanted to be preached.

Sunday morning, I started in 1 Thessalonians 1:5, where the Bible says, "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost..." I stopped at the word "gospel" and preached a simple salvation message. The focus was that when Paul, Timothy, and Silas entered Thessalonica, they did not take some man-made religion or power of positive thinking message. They took with them the Gospel- the glorious message of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for the sins of the whole world.

Sunday evening, I moved a little bit further in the verse, where it says, "but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance..." The gist of the message was that when Paul, Timothy, and Silas entered Thessalonica with the message of the Gospel, they did not go in their own wisdom or in the power of their flesh. They entered Thessalonica filled with the Holy Spirit. The points of the message were: 1. The Clash (the flesh vs. the Spirit) 2. The Choice (to whom will we yield, the flesh or the Spirit?) 3. The Consequences (what happens when we yield to the flesh, and what happens when we yield to the Spirit?)

Monday evening, we continued through the verse, and focused on this portion: " ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake." Basically, when those young Thessalonian Christians looked at the lives of Paul, Timothy, and Silas, they saw that their message and their lifestyles did not contradict each other. There was something distinctly different about the lives of Paul, Timothy, and Silas. The message was primarily about sanctification.

Tuesday evening, we continued through the passage, and shifted the focus from the lives of the three missionaries to the lives of the Thessalonian Christians themselves. On Tuesday night, I focused on this portion of the verse: "And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, and with joy of the Holy Ghost..." The premise of the message was that these Thessalonian Christians were not merely saved; they were disciples- followers of the Lord. Tuesday night, I preached about the meaning of discipleship from Matthew 16:24. "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."

Wednesday evening, we went on to verse 9, where the Bible says, "For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad, so that we need not to speak anything." On Wednesday night, I preached about the ministry of discipleship. Basically, God showed me in studying this passage that true discipleship does not lead us to become hermits, or scholarly, stuffy, puffed up pious prune-heads; rather, true discipleship leads us to become servants.

I believe that God met with us in a might way. I certainly sensed His grace at work in my heart as I preached, and it was a blessing to see people responding to the work of the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Update from California

It doesn't seem real, but Lord-willing, we will be leaving for Cambodia three weeks from yesterday. We are spending these last three weeks in the States in California. We are spending some good time with Linda's family in Bakersfield, and we will spend a few days in Long Beach.

Please pray that God will use us as we endeavor in the following areas:

  • Witnessing to Linda's family (already had opportunities to witness to two of my brothers-in-law)
  • I will be preaching the revival for McKee Road Baptist Church of Bakersfield March 13-16. Please pray for God's direction and that He would work in the hearts of His people.
  • I will also be preaching at First Baptist Church School in their chapel service. I know most of these kids from our time there, and I am praying that God will use His Word to penetrate their hearts.
  • Tying up loose ends here in the States before we leave on the 28th.
  • Opportunities to talk to people about Christ while we are staying in Bakersfield and Long Beach.
  • Speaking to young mothers at the abortion clinic in Bakersfield. This morning I went with Pastor Fies to the abortion clinic, and we stood on the public sidewalk just outside the clinic and pleaded with these young mothers to choose life for their children. I hope to be able to go back several times before we leave for Cambodia.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Lesson for Missionaries from the Marines

At my grandparents' house in Taylors, South Carolina, my family was watching a special on the History Channel about the war in Iraq. I was captivated by the content of this well done documentary; but I was not expecting to learn a valuable lesson about missions.

One part of the documentary focused on a certain Marine unit's battle plan in a particularly volatile and violent part of Baghdad. Because this unit had suffered many casualties from attacks by Al Qaeda insurgents, their commander took the following approach: patrol the assigned area for the minimum amount of time required, and then retire to the Forward Operations Base (FOB)- a secure station of operation. The area remained one of the worst areas in Baghdad for the duration of the time that this commander was in charge. Additionally, the Iraqi nationals, whose loyalty the U.S. was desperately trying to win, were not impressed by this "compound mentality." Eventually, he was replaced.

The new commander took a completely different, and somewhat radical, approach. He and the men in his unit began living amongst the people 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They only entered their FOB when new supplies were needed. They lived in a house in one of the common neighborhoods in that part of the city. Eventually, the Iraqi nationals grew to accept their presence, and even accept them as friends. This would eventually lead to Iraqi cooperation in defeating Al Qaeda in that particular part of Baghdad.

So what does this have to do with missions? I am reminded of what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 1:5: " ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake." Paul was speaking to the Thessalonian Christians whom he had personally led to Christ; and basically he was telling them, "You all knew the kind of men we were. You knew we cared about you. You know we were there with pure motives." How could those Thessalonian Christians know what manner of men Paul and Timothy were? The answer is that Paul and Timothy spent time with them. And I don't mean an hour a week at church; I mean they probably spent hours every day with them, teaching them both in word and by example. Paul and Timothy took the approach of that second Marine commander.

I wonder how many missionaries have the mentality of that first Marine commander. I wonder if there are missionaries who refuse to get out of their comfort zones. I wonder if there are missionaries who don't learn the language. I wonder if there are missionaries who say, "It's just too dangerous", or, "It just can't be done here." (I am not discrediting the fact that some fields are harder than others; I am saying that a field's difficulty should not cause us to retreat.) I wonder if there are missionaries who refuse to learn the culture of their field of service. If these missionaries exist, it is no wonder the people they claim to be reaching are still unreached.

By God's grace, I want to approach our ministry in Cambodia like that second Marine commander. I want to approach our ministry in Cambodia the way Paul approached his ministry in Thessalonica. I know there must be a balance in our ministry time and family time. I am already asking God for wisdom to know how to maintain the integrity and sanctity of our home, while at the same time not appearing to be unapproachable. But we must not forget that we are called to be salt and light in this world, and that requires that we be visible, approachable ambassadors for Christ.

Just like the situation that changed for the better in Baghdad after that unit began living amongst the people- to the point that the Iraqi people took part in winning a victory over Al Qaeda- I believe if we as missionaries will adopt that approach for our ministries, the people whom we reach with the Gospel will help us win great spiritual victories in enemy territory. It is interesting to note that without the Iraqis' cooperation, those victories over Al Qaeda would not have been possible. And if we do not disciple the nationals whom we lead to Christ, and train them to be spiritually mature Christians who will help us reach their country with the Gospel, we will not see the victories that we should see.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, January 28, 2011

What Am I Complaining About?

Today, I took my son to Eastside Pediatrics in Taylors, South Carolina for a follow up visit concerning an ear infection he had a few days ago. Our appointment was at 10:50 a.m. I arrived punctually at 10:45, expecting to be admitted into the room within ten minutes. The ten minutes passed, and soon another ten minutes passed. Nearly an hour had passed. I went from being slightly impatient to being downright angry about this unexpected wait. "How can they just let me wait like this?" I thought. "This is ridiculous!" I continued. The nurse finally opened the door and said, "Judson Phillips." I thought, "It's about stinking time!"

About 8:00 this evening, my friend Koumaly Thongdy emailed me an update about our dear friends, the Keos, first-term missionaries to Cambodia. Mrs. Keo delivered their fourth child, Sophea Sharon Keo, eleven weeks early. You can read more details about little Sophea in the previous post. In that update, Bro. David Board included a picture of the pediatric hospital in Phnom Penh where little Sophia was taken. Here is a picture of that hospital, and some of Bro. Board's comments.


"One of the men who attends our church works at the hospital as a pediatrics nurse. He has shared with us the terrible stress that the medical staff is under do to the volume of patients who must be cared for on a daily basis. The line begins to form at about 4:00 a.m. Every day an average of 1500 children are "cared for" at this hospital. If you were able to see the conditions firsthand you would certainly be more thankful for what you have been given in the United States. We often complain over the slightest things. Yet these hundreds of people who are standing in line from early morning until late evening will consider themselves very fortunate to be able to get their child into this hospital. It gives us all something to think about. Please pray for baby Sophea, the Keos, and all the ladies who are serving the Lord by caring for this baby." -Bro. David Board

Needless to say, after reading this commentary, seeing this picture, and learning of the Keos' situation, I felt utterly ridiculous and extremely guilty about complaining earlier today at the doctor's office. Just something for you to think about the next time you start to complain. (:

Pray for the Keos

The following is a prayer update concerning our dear friends, the Keos, first-term missionaries to Cambodia. Please pray for this precious family.

As you know the Keo family arrived here nearly a month ago to begin their first term as missionaries. It seems as though God has been allowing them to undergo serious testing almost from day one. We mentioned two weeks ago that Bro. Keo's mother came with them from the United States in order to help care for Mrs. Keo after she gave birth to their fourth child. However, she suffered a stroke just over two weeks ago. She is now bed-ridden in the Keo's home and requires around the clock care in order to even perform the most simple of tasks. Pray that God will provide wisdom to the Keo's regarding this situation.

Last Saturday Mrs. Keo gave birth, pre-maturely, to their baby. Mrs. Keo was just 29 weeks along and the baby weighs around 2.2 lbs. This pre-mature birth came as a great surprise to us all. At this point the baby is in the national government hospital here in Phnom Penh. We have been told that this is the best Pediatrics facility in the country. However, the things that we have all witnessed regarding the standard of care has been appalling to say the least. Were this baby in the United States she would have been immediately admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit. One would expect to find, at a minimum, the following items in a pediatrics hospital no matter where it is in the world: water, baby formula, bottles, blankets, a pillow, a clean environment, an incubator, nurses, and a doctor who knows even the basics about medicine and who will provide advice to the family. Sad to say none of these things exist in this hospital. The baby was placed in a wooden box and set on a table in a room with many other babies. The doctor might come around every four hours to make sure the baby is still alive and that is it. In the past week only one doctor showed up who even wore a stethoscope. The baby is unable to breathe on her own and requires 24-hour care. The ladies from our church and two other churches here in Phnom Penh have been staying with the baby and manually pumping air into her lungs. Three ladies stay at the bed side at all times. So far it seems like everyone is "hanging in there." We are so thankful for the ladies at Missionary Rodney Ruppel and Missionary Kounaro Keo's churches. They have so selflessly given their time to help care for the baby. Several of the security guards at the hospital have spoken to our ladies and asked why there are so many different people coming to help this one baby. They asked our ladies this question: "Are you all Christians?" We know that people are watching and are curious. Please help pray for the baby, the Keo family, and the ladies to be able to come through this trial with a good testimony.

Sophea Keo.jpg

One of the men who attends our church works at the hospital as a pediatrics nurse. He has shared with us the terrible stress that the medical staff is under due to the volume of patients who must be cared for on a daily basis. The line begins to form at about 4:00 a.m. Every day an average of 1500 children are "cared for" at this hospital. If you were able to see the conditions firsthand you would certainly be more thankful for what you have been given in the United States. We often complain over the slightest things. Yet these hundreds of people who are standing in line from early morning until late evening will consider themselves very fortunate to be able to get their child into this hospital. It gives us all something to think about. Please pray for baby Sophea, the Keos, and all the ladies who are serving the Lord by caring for this baby.


We do have ONE THING here that America does not have - Monkeys in the hospital! Sophea is on the 3rd floor. The other day a monkey came walking into the room and everyone began screaming. (as though they had never seen a monkey before) Someone scared him out of the room. Then about an hour later the monkey returned with some of its friends! Never a dull moment here in Asia!


Please continue to pray for the following people to be saved: 1. Ky (24 year old man with a JW background) 2. Sopheak (29 year old former monk) 3. Sareth (64 year old husband of Vuthy) 4. Sopheap (early 30's - wife of Sinath) 5. Channa & SreyRoeth (young couple in the early 20's)

Because of God's grace,

Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason