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."
I was exactly right- I can't do it. But, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Over the past month, I have been placed in situations that I know are too difficult for me to handle. For example, situations that I have run into while soul winning in which I did not have the answer, but God intervened by giving me the words to say. Even something as simple as leading a church service in Khmer has proven to be a challenge that I have been forced to turn over to God. But wait a minute. Shouldn't this be true of every aspect of our lives? Herein lies the problem that too many of God's servants struggle with. We categorize our lives into two parts: the things we can handle on our own and the things we have to give over to God. How easily we forget the words of Jesus in John 15:5, "...for without me ye can do nothing." I am learning more and more every day that it is not only the seemingly unsurmountable challenges that we need God's grace to overcome; it's the everyday issues of life- being a godly husband and father; being a genuine disciple of Christ; being a good neighbor- that we need God's grace to succeed.
All that being said, I just want it to be known that I have sensed the divine enabling of the Holy Spirit to be and do everything I must be and do here in Cambodia. Here are some instances that I have observed over that past month that show God is at work in our lives and in the ministry of Good News Baptist Church of Phnom Penh.
1. God has miraculously helped me reach a level in the language that has allowed me to preach with liberty. Bro. Benefield has given me the privilege of preaching all the morning services while he and his family are on furlough. I am preaching a series on the Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23. Each Sunday morning we study a different aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit. The first Sunday was an introductory sermon on "What is the filling of the Holy Spirit?" The next two Sundays were on the biblical view of love (see 1 Corinthians 13), followed by a sermon on the biblical teaching of true joy. This Sunday I will preach on the peace of God. God has used His Word and His precious Holy Spirit to enable me to preach, as well as to encourage the precious people of this church. Praise God, three weeks ago a young lady trusted Christ as her Savior after the morning service.
2. God has worked in the lives of the precious people of Good News Baptist Church. What an amazing thought it is that 8 years ago, 99 percent of these people did not know God, did not know the first thing about the Bible, and did not know each other. But God used Bro. Benefield to lead many of them to Christ and disciple them to the point that they are better versed in the Bible than many Christians in the States, and now they are the ones who are leading other Khmers to Christ and discipling them. I pray that one day when God allows us to plant a church we will see people saved, baptized, and discipled so that they will serve the Lord with the same fervor the people of Good News Baptist Church have for their Savior. Every Saturday we have a faithful group that goes soul winning in nearby neighborhoods, and then goes to a village one hour outside the city to conduct a children's service. On Sundays, it is common for one or more of the church members to have a visitor with them in church. Sunday afternoons we conduct another children's service, in which several of the church members faithfully help. I am so thankful to the Lord and to Bro. Benefield for the opportunity to co-labor with such a wonderful church family.
3. God has been so good to Linda over the past several months. He has given her a quick recovery after giving birth to Emily. She has more on her plate now than I think she has ever had in her life, and yet she keeps such a wonderful spirit. I know this actually does not come from her, but from the Holy Spirit that lives within her. I just thank God that Linda has never complained about her role as a wife and mother. She serves the Lord in these roles with all of her heart every single day. I know that this is yet another instance of God's divine enabling.