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Cyclo Driver Phnom PenhMyself and several others were asked this week to pen a few thoughts about changes we’ve seen in Cambodia over the many years we’ve lived here.  Below are my thoughts.

Cynde and I moved our family to Cambodia in April 1995.  We lived in the country until 2007 when we and three of our children returned to the United States for five years.  We returned in 2011.  All together we’ve spent 20 years trying to establish the Kingdom of God in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Observations on Cambodia and Phnom Penh in the mid-1990s

Initial Introduction to Phnom Penh

I arrived in Phnom Penh for the first time in June 1994.  I was introduced to the city by the lingering United Nations Vehicles and personnel still in the country, police and armed military on each major corner, many buildings riddled with bullet holes and parts blown off by rockets and to mountains of garbage.  At that time there was no traffic lights – the lowly policeman stood on what looked like a painted barrel in the intersections and tried to direct traffic.  He received very little respect.  There were very few automobiles on the streets in those days.  Regarding the streets, only the major boulevards were actually paved – Russian, Mao Tse Tounge, Sihanouk, Monivong, Norodom and a few other downtown streets. Almost all side streets were dirt.  We rented a house in Toul Kork and all the streets were dirt.  The one where Psar Moan Ang sits that runs into the dike road (now a four-lane beautifully-paved street – was impassable near the dike road because of mud and tall grass. It was literally a path, not a street.  I remember during raining season one time I was driving my four-wheel drive down Mao Tse Toung from Psar Darm Ko toward Russian Blvd and the water was so deep from flooding I thought it was going to flood my vehicle.  Then to my surprise I saw a boat rowing toward me down the boulevard!

The airport was small with easy access.  There were several times when I just walked unhindered onto the tarmac to welcome a guest and collect his luggage.  We’re really proud of the beautiful airport we now have both here and in Siem Reap.

Newcomers today wouldn’t recognize it and I think couldn’t even imagine it.  Now we have paved streets, even in my little lane in Boeung Tum Pun, traffic lights, tall buildings, etc.  However, the lowly police still get little respect and we still have soldiers with automatic weapons on the streets.  People comment that I must have seen a lot of change over the years. Yes, we’ve seen a lot of change on the outside, but little change in the thinking, worldview and living out life.

Living in Phnom Penh in the mid-1990s

Cynde and I were 40 years old, our son, Jesse, was 17, Matthew, 12, Kaitlyn, 3 and Micah 1 year old when we moved to Cambodia in April 1995.  We rented a house in Toul Kork – I think it was a ten-bedroom house, but there was little else.  In those days we had radio phones – no cell phones or land lines.  The house across the street had the roof, windows and doors blown off.  It was the shell of a  house used as the local latrine.  The house next door actually had the entire house blown apart and only the concrete stairwell was left with two university students living in it.  Electricity was provided by huge local generators – you paid the local guy.  However, in our area the electricity was so low it was virtually non-existent.  We had a very small refrigerator for which we had to go to the market each day and buy a big block of ice to use it for a cooler.  We also had to purchase food daily like the Cambodians rather than store it in the cupboard or fridge.  In fact there was only one very small Western market called 7-7 ran by a Singaporean man where we could get anything that resembled what we were used to.  Eventually another small market opened up named Lucky Market, by a Cambodian American.  It proved very successful and has branches all over Phnom Penh and the country now.  We had a small automatic washing machine that was so small we had to do laundry every day for our family of six.  Although living in the most modern and populated city in the country, we had no electricity to speak of.  We bought a huge generator but only ran it from 6 PM to midnight.  After a few months our water began to turn light brown, then darker brown, then orange, then stopped coming altogether.  We understood a city line was broken and the city had no money to repair it.  We spent the rest of the year contract in that house taking baths, doing dishes and laundry by purchasing the large plastic bottles of water and dumping it over ourselves.

We had an ancient form of internet from a company called Pactok Peg.  It was very rudimentary but worked.  There were no smart phones, no Skype, no Viber and the cost of phone calls “home” were far beyond our budget.  We felt quite a lone and a long way from friends and family.

Security was an issue in those days, too.  We were told that being the only foreigners in the neighborhood we would be targeted for robbery so we were persuaded to hire a non-armed day and night guard.  I imagine it did some good as we weren’t robbed for a couple years, but eventually it was our security guard himself and an armed soldier guarding a dignitary’s house next door that eventually robbed us of everything valuable we owned.  We became accustomed to red tracer-bullet trails shooting across the sky when it rained.  From knowing nothing about guns except hunting guns I came to recognize the difference between and AK-47, M-16, rocket launchers of various kinds.  It was common in those days for dignitaries to have armed guards riding on big motorcycles in front of them and behind them as they drove down the middle of the streets.  It was common for kidnappings to occur and broad daylight assassinations of every kind to occur.  As the Khmer Rouge began surrendering in 1996 and tensions grew between the two main armed political parties we also became accustomed to “factional fighting” and firefights all over the country as well as in the main boulevards of Phnom Penh. In other words, we lived in the lawless Wild West and always lived with a high sense of “anything could happen at any time”.   That affected how we secured our house, entered and exited our house, walked down the street and almost every aspect of our lives at that time.

Looking at today I do a lot of my work in air-conditioned coffee shops and communicate with my friends and family scattered across the world through We Chat, Line, Viber almost daily, not to mention the great email and internet access.  Security is still and issue but not to the degree it was.  We have what I call “Big City Crime.”  I still urge Expats to live alert of what’s going on and don’t take any risks, because we are still targets.

The People

When Eric Dooley asked if I would come and help him in Cambodia I replied, “Why would I want to leave my cushy office and fulfilling job as pastoral staff at a growing church to come to a country which is hot, dangerous and undeveloped?”  The answer is because of the people.  When I visited twice in 1994 I made visits to the University of Phnom Penh.  About 40 young men gathered around me and I invited them to Eric Dooley’s English Class behind the university.  I then asked how many of them had ever heard of Jesus Christ before.  No one had ever heard.  It was…and still is…the people that draw me.  In the beginning we were such a curiosity as the ladies at the market would pinch my small children on the cheek and behind.  We had many eager young people come to Cynde’s English Classes and that of New Life Foundation.  In fact, we have touched literally thousands of Cambodians over the past 20 years.  We meet them in some of the most remote places in the country as well as outside of Cambodia…”Teacher, I used to study English with you…” Many have been introduced and have received Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord and are serving in influential roles in business and NGOs now. Oh yes, there’s bad people, just like there are everywhere, but the Cambodian people were ignorant (not stupid, just had not yet received the chance to learn); they were hungry to learn about the world, language, education.  They were kind and gentle and courteous.  They were without Christ.  That’s why we came and that’s why we’re here now.

How about today?  They are generally better off than 20 years ago.  They are better educated, but still have a long way to go in the public school system.  (I met a professor from San Francisco University in those early days who said the university degree that they graduated with at the time was about equal to a U.S. High School Education.)  The public education system still lacks, but the hungry Cambodians are filling up the universities.  They are still the gentle, hospitable people they were.  I now travel all over the country and feel because I can speak the language and know the culture I could go anywhere in the country and if I ran into problems the local people would take me into their house, feed me and do whatever they could do to help me solve my problem.  The people are so trusting still.  Sometimes I’ll not have enough money to pay for something and they’ll give me the item and trust me to come back later with the full payment.  That’s the Cambodian people.  My desire is to expend my life, if the Lord wills, dedicated to helping the Cambodian people become all that God has intended them to be in spirit, soul and body.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chuck and Child

Chuck and Child

We see some positive movement!

Transition in the Poipet Church
As you may know, we’ve faced some opposition in this church planting effort in the past few months, which is normal when the devil doesn’t want to see God’s Kingdom established in a new area.  I’ll admit that these difficulotes have been a personal blow to me, however, all the counsel I’ve sought has been to move forward and overcome the opposition.  Satan doesn’t want a Gateway Church in this Gateway City, but I believe with all my heart that God does!

I want to thank you for your recent prayers as I feel uplifted myself and we’ve seen some positive things begin to happen.  God is good and yesterday morning I just sat in tears thanking Him for His faithfulness.  He’s so good!

Brief Summary of Recent Challenges
In brief, as you may know, we lost ten key people within two months as a result of them moving for work or jobs, including my on-the-ground pastor and three musicians.  This is tough when you’re a church plant with only 30-40 committed people anyway.  We signed a two-year contract on a new meeting place that would cut our rent in half and a week later received notice that funding would be cut.  All this doesn’t happen by accident.  It’s either God telling us to move out or change something, or it’s the devil trying to discourage us.  Our response has been to pray and pray and pray and re-evalute our finances and cut back as we don’t know for sure what will be coming in during the next month.  We’re evaluating our strategy, including working on plans for my two staff to find ways to become self-sustainable.  We’re considering using our facility, which is not being used much Monday – Friday during business hours, to start small businesses for our leaders and some of our church members, as well as the community (this is a successful World Vision model – as I spent a week viewing World Vision Activities recently).  This will provide income for them and outreach to the community.  I have an apostolic Cambodian leader who is a son in the faith helping me for three months to do some more discipling with my leadership team, preach and evaluate the situation.

Some Positive Movement
Some positive things are we’re officially part of New Life Fellowship of Churches Cambodia, which brings us officially under their covering and leadership.  I have a New Life Apostolic Team visiting the church next week to get acquainted.  We are in a new area and have generated a lot of interest. I was in Poipet earlier this week for a few days but am in Phnom Penh now.  We have a man who works for Samaritan’s Purse in Poipet and his family who attend our church who will be preaching this weekend; he is a former pastor.  You never know what the Lord might stir up in his spirit as he ministers the Word of God.  I received a text message last night from one of my leaders in Poipet saying they had 70 youth attend our youth meeting.  For these youth it was the first time for most of them to step inside a Christian Church.  I tell you the harvest is ripe if we just continue to persevere.

Vearia and Leakena
In July, August and September I had a Singaporean couple serve as stand-in Pastors in Poipet equipping my leaders and musicians and starting a women’s ministry.  We found a female translator who assisted them.  Leakena used to attend our church in Phnom Penh as a youth and knew me.  Her sister and brother attend our branch church in New Phnom Penh and her husband’s two brothers attend our church in Phnom Penh.  Leakena was a tremendous asset – she’s a musician, children’s teacher, can teach Cambodian traditional dance and speaks English very well.  Her husband works for Food for the Hungry in a far away, former Khmer Rouge area, in Northern Cambodia.  They live in a one-room, wooden house but both are city people from Phnom Penh.  He’s an administrator, but has also started two cell groups, which he says is really his passtion.  He, too, speaks very good English and used to serve as a pastor in a suburb of Phnom Penh.  I was able to spend time with Vearia and Leakena a few months ago and was very impressed.  I asked if they would consider moving to Poipet and helping us.  Leakena was 100% committed but Vearia dragged his feet a little, saying he just wasn’t sure of the calling of God.  After finding out how much money he made for Food for the Hungry I determined I couldn’t pay him that much anyway, so I dropped it.

I was on a motorcycle ride to the beautiful Preah Viheah Temple on the Thai border in Northrn Cambodia with my son, Micah and his friends last week and had made arrangements to stop by and visit Leakena, Vearia and their children.   Leakena and the children were not home, so I had coffee with Vearia.  He immediately brought up the subject about moving to Poipet and to make a long story short they are both interested.  I told him I didn’t have enough money to pay him what he gets at FHI and he would have to find some way to at least partially support himself.  I asked what he could or wanted to do and he immediately replied that both of them have always wanted to open a Kindergarten and English School. Wow!  This was part of the plans for the Poipet Church since Patricia asked me to get involved.  It would provide outreach as well as income for them.

As I said, we have some positive activity stirring.  The conclusion with Vearia is we need to walk together for a few more months and see how this turns out – are we compatible?  Does he and his family realize the ramifications of making a move, finding support and leading a new church?  He’ll preach in Poipet next weekend and I’ll make another trip to meet him the following week as well as make plans for him to come to Phnom Penh and meet our Eldership to get acquainted with them.

Prayer Points
Please pray for all of this:
1.    God to confirm His will regarding an on-ground pastor for Poipet
2.    Open hearts and harvest reaped in the new area we have moved to
3.    Wisdom to adjust our strategy even more as we move forward
4.    Finances to make it all happen

Year-End Giving
As we come to December many people and churches like to give a year-end offering to missions or some project.  We are committed to long-term sustainability in Cambodia, but as we begin any church plant finances from outside are always necessary.  We really don’t know how much money will be coming in at the end of December.  I don’t know if we’ll have enough pay rent, salaries or transportation from Phnom Penh to Poipet.  Several of you said you will continue the sponsorship.  May I ask you to continue for 2014 and let’s evaluate as we come to the conclusion of our second year in Poipet?  May I also ask you to make a special offering to Poipet to get us through the next few uncertain financial months?  Thank you for even considering this and standing with us in these prayer points.

Your options for giving are the following:

1.    Send a check through Eugene Christian Fellowship to Christian Fellowship Poipet, 89780 North Game Farm Road, Eugene, OR           97408;
2.    Send a check through Church of Glad Tidings to Christian Fellowship Poipet, P.O. Box 1630, Yuba City, CA 95992
3.    Go to www.cambodiaoutreach.org and click in the PayPal.  Designate to Christian Fellowship Poipet (PayPal will take a small               fee out)
4.    The easiest and quickest for me if you don’t need a tax write-off would be to send a direct wire to the Bank Account I set up for            the Poipet Church:
      Canadia Bank. 
315 Ang Duong Street.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
SWIFT: CADIKHPP.
Charles Edward McCaul.
#0010001811784

Thank you for your support in every way.  This has been a good year with just a short blip of severe opposition which can and will be overcome.  I believe next year will be even greater with more people coming to the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, filled with His Holy Spirit, delivered, healed, employed and improved.

Pastor Chuck

DSC03069November 2, 2013

Dear Friends of Poipet , Friends of Missions,

we evaluated everything we’re doing and decide what is essential to the vision and what is not.  We’ll cut finances to the minimal, evaluate the leadership structure and evaluate our strategy for evangelism and discipleship.

 

As a report from last month’s Urgent Prayer Request, I’d like to give you the Good Report:

  1. My last trip was a safe, yet bumpy, journey to Poipet.  No incidents.
  2. We were released from our old building contract and are now in the former Beer Garden which holds a lot of potential to what we hope to see in the future.
  3. We are quite tight financially because of the need to pay rent up front, but we expected that.
  4. I was able to get Yon Sambo two months rent for his Children’s Center and am working on getting some children sponsored by New Life’s Children-at-Risk program.

Thank you all for praying!

Last week I got to do

one of the fun and easy things associated with pioneer church planting – we have just moved the location of church meeting in Poipet and as we usually do on Saturday mornings we went out in two teams to do house visitation.  Two others and myself visited our nearby neighbors to introduce ourselves and let them ask questions as to why we’re there.  As is usual in Cambodia, we were warmly welcomed by total strangers and enjoyed at least a low-level, non-threatening conversation with them to open the door to further relationships.  We’re excited about reaching into this new area.

These forays into new terri

tory are fun and can generate great stories for newsletters as people open their hearts, receive Jesus and healing.  We have teams visit a lot who generate a lot of meaningful activities in our provincial churches; we appreciate them much and they do make a difference.  However, it’s one thing to see a lot of activity generated and quite another thing to build it into a local church that lasts.  The building part takes a long-term commitment to weather the various seasons of church-planting life:  sowing, watering, waiting, rejection or persecution, failure, mistakes, rebuilding, with spurts of growth, healings, deliverances and great stories.  Actually, there are great stories all the time of people hearing the Gospel and receiving Jesus as their Savior or receiving a miracle from God, hearing his voice or just learning to know him more.

In the 15 months that we’ve

been reaching out to Poipet City – a Gateway City in Northwestern Cambodia – we’ve had hundreds of people who have had the opportunity to hear the Gospel for the first time.  Many of them have believed in Jesus as their Savior. Many have been healed.  Many of them have been added to the church.  However, due to Poipet’s migrant population, some of them have moved on to other locations – Thailand, Phnom Penh, Battambang, their home province – but have gone with the Gospel in their heart.  In fact, several of them we’ve laid hands on a

nd have sent them as missionaries on the next leg of their journey.

We’re committed for the long run to plant a life-giving church in Poipet City.  However, it may look a little different than traditional churches do to the uniqueness of this city.  Poipet is a very migrant city and a lot of people come and base here to work into Thailand or try to make money.  I’ve known this from the beginning.  Nevertheless, we have a good strong core group that are committed to reach this city for Christ.

I’m writing to you, as a Friend of Poipet City and as a Friend of Chuck and Cynde McCaul, because we’re in a transitional time here and we especially need your prayers of spiritual warfare at this time.  By changing venues we’ve just lowered our rent by 50%.  However, we had to pay six months rent up front (fairly common in Ca

mbodia), which we will get off the last six months of the two-year contract.  A few days after I signed that contract I was notified that our funding from a primary donor is going to drop significantly and perhaps permanently in the next four months.  This donor has been very, very supportive and generous but as you know, things change and giving priorities change as well.  I have full moral support from every pastor I’ve spoken to regarding the commitment to continue with the church plant in Poipet and weather this season.

As well as that, over the last three months we’ve lost six key people from the church – all of  them moving to Thailand, Phnom Penh, Battambang or back to their home province…including my on-the-ground pastor.  In a church of 60 losing 6 key leaders is huge.

Interestingly enough, the Lord spoke to me directly through a visiting prophet three weeks ago that when we face challenges regarding ministry in Cambodia to not look at the circumstances but look at what is working behind the circumstances.  In this situation we need to not be looking at a potentia

l lack of funds, leadership or a migrant population, but we need to be looking at the powers of darkness who do not want the Kingdom of God established in the Gateway City of Poipet.

I’m met with my Leadership Team in Poipet and

I’m asking you to do three things:

  1. Pray with us regarding this current situation.  I’m not here in Poipet sleeping on a mattress on the floor of a dusty warehouse after an eight-hour drive over bumpy roads because I like the adventure.  At almost 60 years old I can find more comfortable adventure.  I’m here because I believe God wants a life-giving church in this Gateway City.  Please stand with us against the spirit(s) opposing a great church in Poipet City.  Pray that God’s Kingdom will be established in Poipet City reaching the population in spirit, soul and body. Pray that Satan’s strategy will fail.   Also, pray for wisdom for any adjustments God wants us to make.  If you would, please bring this to your intercessory prayer group and friends.  We believe in the power of unified spiritual warfare!
  1. Please consider giving a year-end special offering to the Church Plant in Poipet.  It’s been our experience with New Life Fellowship of Churches that after going into an unchurched area it takes a least two years for us to carve out a group of believers and find a leader to start training.  It takes a minimum of 5 years for a small business in the United States to turn a profit.  The meaning – long-lasting results don’t come quickly.  If you choose to send a one
  2. -time special offering speak to me directly and I can advise on how to do that – through a local church, PayPal or direct bank wire.  Pray that we will have the finances to do what God wants us to do.
  1. Please consider a monthly one-year commitment to Christian Fellowship Poipet.  Our fixed expenses are USD$400 per month for rent, plus electricity and water, $400 per month for Apostolic Team Travel, and about $400 in ministry activities, and about $400 in staff costs.

We’re reaching the lost, making disciples, helping the poor, widows and orphans…all very similar to what Jesus told us to do.  We believe God is raising up a strategic church in a strategic city.

If you know me, I’m not ashamed to request prayer and intercession, however, you know that it is rare for me to make a direct appeal for finances.  Thank you for considering the possibility of this investment and especially for standing in the gap for what we believe God wants to do in Cambodia!

Chuck McCaul

Poipet, Cambodia

Interesting blog by journalist and Cambodian historian, Nate Thayer, revealing a demonic stronghold in Cambodian history:

http://natethayer.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/what-happened-to-the-kr-they-are-back-in-power-excerpts-from-sympathy-for-the-devil-inside-pol-pots-khmer-rouge/

People pay attention when someone speaks his last earthly words, and Jesus’ last words are among His most significant:

18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo,I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Making disciples is very different from making converts. Disciple-making requires time and relationships.  Disciple-making does not typically depend on formulas of salvation or on strangers leading strangers in a quick decision regarding their personal destiny.  Disciple-Makers are prepared to invest weeks, months, and maybe years developing genuine friendships, facilitating someone’s discovery of and obedience to God’s Story from Creation to Christ, and eventually giving Jesus his life of allegiance.  Modern shortcuts to making quick converts seem to fall short of Jesus’ final instructions on earth.

Contrary to Jesus’ three-year discipleship program for the Twelve, our goal today is sometimes a quick conversation based on an easy-to-remember collection of major doctrines and a “sinner’s prayer” to conclude the transaction.  The goal is to get people saved and then take them through discipleship training.  But that training often involves a class, not a relationship.  The measure of how well the church makes disciples is how transformed the people of God are and how successful they are in changing their communities.

Converts may ultimately become highly-committed disciples of Jesus, but is in spite of the process, not because of it.  Disciples are made when someone is willing to walk with them, teaching them by example what it means to make Jesus Lord of their lives.  It takes more time to guide them this way than it does to make converts, but taking this time tends to result in a much higher rate of life-changing success.  

 

The following text is taken from the Maxwell Leadership Bible

Bird and CaveHosea, the first of what is called “The Minor Prophets” in the Bible, led and prophesied in Israel during a season of wealth, but spiritual poverty in the history of Israel.  Because of this, God called him to do something very costly.  In order to send a memorable message to the people of Israel, Hosea was to marry a prostitute – thus giving the people a visual demonstration of their unfaithfulness to the True and Living God.  Hosea’s words were to help the people feel the grief of God, who responded to their rebellion like a husband with an adulterous wife.  In the same way, Gomer, Hoseah’s wife, betrayed him; Israel had betrayed God.

Hosea vividly illustrates the Leadership Law of Sacrifice.  In order to fulfill his divine calling he had to pay a huge price.  At his own expense he married Gomer and watched her drift from her marriage time an,  time again.  We can only imagine his pain.  He was called to live with her lies and deceptions.  He had to explain to his children why their mother would not be home that night.  He watched her public humiliation as evil men auctioned off her body for the carnal pleasure of strangers.  Certainly, when Hosea spoke to the Israelites about their spiritual state, he could do it with empathy and passion.  He knew firsthand how God felt about the spiritual adultery of His chosen people.

Leadership really is about sacrifice.  Many of us want the perks of leadership without the price of leadership.  Yet becoming a leader isn’t about gaining rights; it’s about giving them up.  Leaders in the business world often err in thinking that becoming a CEO means more liberties with the budges, more options with their time, more freedom with their lifestyle.  From God’s perspective, leadership means quite the opposite.  Leaders give up their options and remain careful to do all things for the sake of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

Leading people is also about more than words; it’s really about a lifestyle.  We cannot separate our communication from our conduct.  To speak with the kind of credibility and emotion he did, Hosea had to live what God was living.  Hollow leadership results when we do not incarnate the values we want others to embrace.  Then hypocrisy replaces integrity.  We must live out what we want others to live out.  No one wants to follow this kind of leader.  The way we talk, the way we lead, and the way we live should mesh.  Just ask Hosea.

God reveals Himself in the Book of Hosea as both the forgiving Lord and the holy judge who requires repentance on the part of His erring people.  Because He endured an adulterous bride (Israel), He called Hosea to imitate His situation – then to speak to the people about forgiveness and judgement.  God led His leader (Hosea) in an experience he would never forget.  Hosea got to step into God’s shoes for a season and feel what He felt.  Through Hosea, God communicated both His unconditional love and His unchanging law.

Leadership Lessons From Hosea

1.   Leaders must maintain poise even in the midst of unfair demands.

2.   The simple game plan is best when restoring or rebuilding.

3.   Followers in volatile situations need consistency from leaders.

4.   Leaders must lead from established values and standards.

5.   Regardless of what people do, leaders must model what is right.

6.   Effective leaders never lose sight of the Big Picture

The next time you read the Book of Hosea keep these thoughts in mind.

Dog and TongueI was reading my Bible this morning in James, Chapter 3.  It’s about how our words can either be powerfully positive or powerfully negative.  For all of us, but especially leaders, we must be very careful about what comes out of our mouth.  The wisdom from Almighty God through His servant, Jame is this:

1.   The words that come out of our mouth reveal our level of maturity – if we can control ourselves we are mature; if we can’t we’re not.  If we can control the words coming from our mouth we can control other aspects of our life.  James 3:1-2

2.    Controlling our tongue (the words we speak) can affect important parts of our life, including our relationships at work,  home, school – and thus affect our future, destiny and happiness.  James 3:3-5

3.   Our tongue (the words we speak) can be the source of great blessing or great cursing…but it is a source.  We need to realize that the words we speak can be the source of fire, so to speak, that destroys our lives and the lives of others.  James 3:6-8

4.   If we are a Christian we will make it a priority to evaluate our words carefully and not speak everything that comes to mind.  The words we speak, especially about other people, will reveal a true, humble and loving heart or a hypocritical heart.  James 3:8-12

In another place James gives us the very good advice for every person to be “swift to hear (listen), slow to speak, and slow to anger.” Wow, what good advice!

My advice:

  • Don’t say everything that comes to your mind:  Your opinions, thoughts, emotions, frustrations.  Ask yourself first, “How will this affect those who are listening?  Will it build them up (Ephesians 4:29)?  Will it make me look like a whiner, judgmental, critical?
  • Make is a point to find positive things about people and situations.  I read somewhere years ago that it takes 4-5 positive statements to over-ride one negative one.  This means that people remember negative more than positive.  Negative words really have an impact on people.  Choose to keep them to yourself and speak positive things when at all possible.
  • If you must say something negative, be careful about using slang or words that could possibly be offensive.  Choose your words carefully. Also, I heard one time that if you have to speak something negative to someone, first make a positive statement, then the negative one, then another positive one to affirm them even though you have to correct them.
  • Be careful about declaring curses upon yourself, others and your situation.  There is creative power in our words.  They have power to create life and death.  (Proverbs 18:21)  Don’t speak hopeless, damning, negative things about yourself, others or your situation – speak life.  Speak what God says about you, not what you think, see or others think or say.  You might just get  what you speak!

Tribulation Becomes Joy

ImageWhen we understand God’s purposes we praise Him 

James 1:2-18

When we understand why bad things happen it helps us overcome them or endure them.  The God of the Universe is all good.  However, He does allow His children on earth to meet with difficulties from time to time.  But He will never leave us. He will never allow us to meet with a difficulty bigger than His ability in us to overcome or endure.  Let’s learn from God’s Word in the Book of James about God’s purposes for difficulties and  how we can overcome them through His grace.

How to Receive a Fruitful Benefit from Difficulties

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, ives birth to death.

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.

Understanding the Purpose of Difficulties

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds,

This word “consider” means to evaluate or “count on it”.  When we think of or experience difficulties we usually do not consider it something to rejoice about..  It’s for this reason that we Christians must make a decision – “this difficulty will bring me joy if I allow God to accomplish His plan through it.”

The word “difficulty” comes from a Greek word that means problems or something that disturbs the peace, comfort,  joy or happiness in someone’s life.  The verb form of this word means to “put something or someone to the test” with the purpose of discovering the nature or quality of that person or thing.  God allows difficulties into our lives as a test to prove and increase the quality of our faith and to show that it is true faith.  Every difficulty becomes a test of our faith and comes to us to strengthen our faith.  If we fail the test by making the wrong choice in response to that difficulty, then the difficulty becomes a temptation that invites us to disobey God and do evil.

Difficulties Test the Quality of Our Faith

because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 

God allows difficulties into our life to strengthen and test our faith.  Through a difficulty we will learn to stand against the pressure of the difficulty until God removes it at His appointed time.  We will love the results of the difficulty as we stand firm in faith and wait for God’s results in His time.

Persevering During Difficulties Helps Us Become Mature Children of God

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

As we persevere in the difficulty by faith and allow God to work in our lives through that difficulty we will become mature, complete and not lacking in anything.  This does not mean that we will become a person who has no sin and never lacks, but it means that we will become a mature Christian.  There are baby Christians and mature Christians.  A mature Christian represents Jesus Christ in everything he thinks, says and does.  We become a mature Christian when we allow the difficulties that we meet to create the character of Jesus Christ and the fruit of the Holy Spirit in us.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 

Ask God for Wisdom

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 

Wisdom is the ability to live life with success to the end for the glory of God.  We receive wisdom from our life experiences and through understanding the truth in God’s Word.  We must be careful about following the wisdom of this world or our culture because sometimes that kind of wisdom is opposed and opposite from God’s wisdom.  When we meet with difficulties often we don’t know the purpose of those difficulties.  They cause us sorrow, fear and discouragement.  It’s at this time we should pray – “Lord, what do you want me to do?  How do you want me to respond to this difficulty?”  Sometimes we respond by rebuking the difficulty or the demons that caused it.  Sometimes we respond by showing love to those who created the difficulty in our life.  Sometimes we submit to the difficulty and endure.  During this time of endurance we learn to grow deeper in our relationship with Jesus and learn how to receive love, joy, peace and everything else we need from Him.  This is one way we grow as a Christian.  If we pray and wait on God He will give us wisdom, for He is full of wisdom. 

Ask God in Faith

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 

When we pray to God about our difficulties or anything we must pray in faith, not wavering.  We must have faith that God hears our prayer, knows our difficulty and has all ability to remove the difficulty, show us how to solve the problem or give us grace to endure until His appointed time.  Many of us doubt because we don’t trust God completely.  Many Christian really don’t believe God loves them completely or is completely good or has all power.  Therefore, we doubt in our heart.  A person who doubts is like the waves of the sea – going back and forth, back and forth. 

That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

The person who has two minds is a person who trusts God and rejoices in God when there is no difficulty, but when there is difficulty he doubts the goodness and power of God.  This person will not receive anything from the Lord because we receive everything from God by faith.  (Hebrews 11:1-3)

Both the Rich and the Poor Have Problems

Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 

Sometimes the poor think that the rich do not have problems, but actually everybody has problems.  Some people have more resources to solve their problems, but in the end, God will allow difficulties to come to the poor and the rich.  For the poor, we can rejoice that we are the sons and daughters of God – this is a high position.  For the rich, we can rejoice that God loves us so much we humbles us to help us learn to trust in Him.  Remember, the goal of difficulties is to allow God to work His plan and purpose out in our life.  Sometimes both the rich and the poor do not trust in God, but in themselves, to help solve their problems.  If you are poor, remember that you need God for everything.  If you are rich, remember that you, too need God for everything. 

11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

It’s important for both the poor and the rich to remember that what we have – money, possessions, reputation, position – can disappear in a moment, like a flower that wilts in the heat of the day.  One day we can have everything, but the next day it can be gone!  We hope this teaches us not to trust in our money, possessions, reputation, position or even our benefactors – but only trust in God!  True happiness does not come from what we have, but comes from our relationship with God!

We Must Lean to Persevere Because a Difficulty is a Test

Which We Can Pass or Fail

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

People who successfully endure difficulties are truly happy.  To “endure” a difficulty means we do not lose our faith.  We do not turn away from God.  We do not look outside of God and His Word to solve our problems or to give us peace or joy in our circumstances.  To “endure” a difficulty means we may not understand why we are meeting this difficulty, but our faith is in a loving God full of grace and the ability to give us strength, peace and joy in that difficulty.

When a person endures a trial like this he “passes a test” like a student who passes his exam at school.  The purpose of exams at school are to test our knowledge – do we know the subjects that we’ve studied or not?  The purpose of God’s tests are to confirm that we know Him, His faithfulness, love and power.  For those who pass the test and endure difficulties, we will receive a crown of life.  God sees what we do in secret and will reward us openly (Matthew 6:4).  Someday all of us must stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10).  This is not to be judged for heaven and hell, but this is the judgment for Christians to determine our rewards in heaven. God sees our pain.  He sees our tears.  He sees our fear.  But He also sees our faith and endurance, and at that time, He will reward us for our endurance.  So, remember that when you endure difficulties, your God sees your heart, your thoughts and your actions and He will reward you on the last day when we stand before Him as His children.

God is Good and Will Not Tempt Us to Sin

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 

In the Greek language, which is the original language of the New Testament, the word for “difficulty” and “temptation” here in these verses are the same.  The point for us to understand here  is that every difficult situation that enters a believer’s life can strengthen him if he obeys God and His Word and remains confident in God’s faithfulness, goodness and power, or that difficulty can become a temptation to lure him to do evil if he chooses to doubt God and disobey Him. 

Our God – the God of the universe – his perfect.  He has no sin and He cannot be tempted by sin.  In God’s nature He has no capacity to commit sin of any kind.  God also does not tempt people.  God will allow difficulties to enter our lives with the goal of strengthening our faith and helping us to grow as mature Christians, but God does not tempt us and hope that we commit sin.  The wonderful promise of God for Christians is that He will not allow a temptation to enter our life that is stronger than His ability to help us endure and overcome.  Also, He will provide a way of escape from that temptation if we ask Him for wisdom and obey what He tells us to do. 

13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

The above verse is a wonderful promise we must remember when we face difficulties and temptation.

The Root of Temptation is the Sinful Nature of Mankind

14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 

Remember:  God allows difficulties to enter our life to help us know Him and His power more and to become a mature Christian.  But if we do not respond to God’s grace that difficulty can become a temptation to do evil.  The devil and demons cause problems and temptations to occur in our life with the goal of snaring us and causing us to stumble.  We must discern where the problem comes from, that’s why James 1:5 says we must pray for wisdom on how to respond to the problem.  But remember this:

  1. God gives us grace, wisdom and a way of escape when we seek Him
  2. If we do not obey God in the difficulty it can become a temptation to sin
  3. The root of all temptations and sin is our own sinful heart
  4. Sin is a process

The word “draw away” (ទាក់ទាញ) is used in the Greek language of a hunter setting a trap for a wild animal to catch it.  Sin is like a bait that draws us into its trap.  The bait looks delicious for the animal but it’s a trap to capture and kill it.  Sin is the same thing.  The pleasures of sin of every kind will lead us to defeat and death if we continue to walk that way.   

There is a power within us called “lust” (ចិត្ត​លោភលន់​). This lust is in what the Bible calls “the flesh” part of ourselves and draws us to want to enjoy sin.  Sin satisfies us.  But sin only satisfies us for a short time and then we receive its terrible result.  This verse says each person is drawn away by “his own lust”.  The lust of the flesh is different for different people and different difficulties and temptations.  For some people their lust is for possessions. For others their lust is power, honor and position.  For others their lust is for what satisfies their body.  (1 John 2:15-17)

The word “enticed” (លួងលោម​បញ្ឆោត) comes from a Greek word that means to catch a fish with bait.  This is another example of the power of sin to lead us away from God.  A fish sees the delicious-looking bait entices the fish and after a bite, the fish is caught on the hook and cannot escape.  When we are facing difficulties there is always the temptation to try to solve the problem using a method different from God’s methods.  God’s ways are different than our ways.  His ways are higher than our ways.  Isaiah 55:8.  God’s ways are usually slower than man’s ways.  God’s ways are sometimes more difficult than man’s ways.  But God’s ways are right.  God’s ways are true.  Man’s ways to solve problems bring short-term results.  God’s ways to solve problems bring eternal results.  Pray and ask God for wisdom how to solve your problems.  Search in God’s Word, the Bible, to discover God’s ways to solve your problems. 

Sin is a Process

15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Sin is not a spontaneous action, but it is a process.  The verse above compares the committing of sin to the process of a baby being born.

  1. We desire to do something.
  2. We act.
  3. We receive the result.

The sin we’re talking about here is choosing to not obey and submit to God when we have a problem:

  • Family problem
  • Financial problem
  • Relationships with others
  • Emotional problems
  • Health problems

Our tendency is to try to solve these problems according to the ways of the world rather than according to God’s way.  Our tendency is to run from these problems.  Some of the ways we choose to solve our problems lead to sin.

This is the cycle of sin:

  1. Thought.  Every sin begins with a thought.  Therefore, we must evaluate every thought and bring it into submission to Jesus Christ and His Word. 

2 Corinthians 5:3-5

  1. Plan.  After we meditate on the thought we create a plan to follow that thought.
  2. Action.  The plan leads us to an action.
  3. Result.  The result of our sinful or disobedient action may bring short-term positive results, but in the long-term it will create more problems.  Some actions create serious disasters in our life that will lead us far away from God’s plan for our life.

The key is to stop the sin before it is born:  Evaluate the thought with God’s Word.  Ask this question:  “What would Jesus do in this situation?”  If you make a decision to solve your problem this way, what is the long-term result?  Trust and obey God instead!

God is Good.  He Always Does Good.  He Does Not Change

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 

A person who is deceived believes something that is not true, but they don’t know they are deceived.  This is one reason why we must be full of the Word of God so we can compare our thoughts with the Word of God.  We are deceived when we begin to believe that God is not perfect and good.  We are deceived when we believe that God is always working everything out in our life for a good result.  We are deceived when we think God causes evil to occur in our life.  We are deceived when we think God doesn’t have the ability to help us overcome our problems.

As we can see by the verses above, God gives good gifts.  God is good.  God is kind.  God does good things for mankind and especially His children.  There is a devil and many demons who always cause evil to occur, but God will cause the evil of demons and men to turn out for our good.  Romans 8:28.  Genesis 50:20.  The above verse calls God the “Father of Lights.” These lights are the sun, moon and stars.  God is the Creator and the Father of all the light in the Universe.  We can see the sun, moon and stars change in their brightness.  Our day goes from daytime to nighttime.  The moon changes and so do the starts in their brightness according to the season.  But be encouraged:  Our God is not like the sun, moon and stars.  God does not change!  Malachi 3:6.  1 John 1:5.

God Will Never Leave Us or Forsake Us

18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.

God is good and is full of love.  God choose to allow us to live in this earth.  He gave us new life so we can be born again as His child.  As you can see from the beginning, God created the earth perfect.  The first man and woman had everything they needed:

  • Every kind of food
  • Comfort
  • Good health
  • No sickness
  • No sin
  • No lack
  • No family problems

But because they faced a test and temptation they failed.  They were deceived.  They chose their way instead of God’s way.  For a moment they were satisfied, but the long-term results were terrible for them and all of their descendants.  God is good and all-powerful and all-wise.  He loves you so much!  He will never leave your or forsake you.  You can trust Him with your problems.  `

Below is a short story that I hope will encourage you:

FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,
‘You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?’

The Lord replied,
‘The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand,
is when I carried you.’

-Mary Stevenson

 

Lord, let us harvest a variety...

Lord, let us harvest a variety…

Dear Friends and Readers,

I’m sitting here in my house putting expense records into Quicken and listening to a You Tube presentation about Church Multiplying Movements – which do you think I enjoy the most?

My mind is also wandering a bit as I think about going to Poipet again tomorrow.  I’m amazed at how God puts things together for us as we seek to follow Him.  He is so good and so faithful!

Tomorrow I’m taking Rorn up, the young man I’ve been training for a year to become a Christian leader – he’s moving to Poipet to be the acting pastor under my supervision.  Ryan and Melissa Dekker, friends from Singapore (both musicians) are in Poipet and will be there for three months; they will be helping us develop two worship teams and organize our Training Center where we have 120 youth registered to study English and computer (about 60 in attendance daily).  I’m also picking up a young women from Southern California that will be with us a month and a half.  On Monday we have a YWAM Team arriving for a month and a half; next month we have a music team from the same church in Southern California arriving for two weeks to do music seminars for our church and other churches in Poipet.  The end of July we have another YWAM Team arriving.

At first I thought this is getting to be too much – I can’t manage all this from Phnom PenhBut then I realized what God is doing.  Our target group is youth.  This was our pattern in Phnom Penh…there are several different reasons for this but the most obvious is they are just more open to the Gospel.  For many years in Phnom Penh we had a Youth Church.  However, as we were patient and trained them in the ways of God and of the Holy Spirit, amazingly enough those youth matured, grew older, married and now have children and are leaders, business people and society-influences in Cambodia!  I say that to say it dawned on me last week that in July the High Schools will be on vacation.  I realized…that without asking me and without my help, God is orchestrating to reap a harvest this school vacation time in Poipet!  I saw Him do the same thing so many times in our ministry – just orchestrate His plan without any help from us. Our responsibility is to prepare ourselves and step out in faith.

I have another young man I’ve been mentoring who wants to be involved in Christian service in some way.  He’s gone to Poipet with me and my team several times already and he really is useful.  He’s been begging me to move to Poipet to help bring the church to another level.  This past couple weeks I’ve been tweeking the church budget and I’ve told him we just don’t have the budget to give him anything…including money for food, let alone an offering.  However, as I’m sitting here crunching the numbers and listening to the sermon I just decided to do what I’ve done most of my adult ministry, especially here in Cambodia – move out in faith during this Kairos Moment.  I called him and told him to pack his bags and stay with us two months to help us reap this summer harvest and then we’ll evaluate after that.

When it’s harvest season it’s a Kairos Moment. That means you have to move it or lose it!  We say I don’t have the people, the time, the money.  The economy of the Kingdom of God works on faith.  We move out and do what God wants us to do and He provides what we need.

Please pray for the Summer Harvest in Poipet:

  1. The Holy Spirit will organize and manage all the people and activity over the next three months
  2. The Holy Spirit will draw those whom He’s working on to be added to Jesus and added to the church
  3. The Holy Spirit will help us prepare ourselves and take advantage of what He’s doing

As I took a moment out from my Bookkeeping to type this, please take a moment now and heartily pray for these three points.

Thank you so much for your prayers for us and the financial donations for Cynde and I personally to live and serve God in Cambodia and for the ministries we’re involved in.  Now…back to the Bookkeeping!

God bless you!

Chuck and Cynde McCaul

 

Baby BirdChuck asked me to do an update of what I’ve been up to, but I really didn’t know where to start.  I was contemplating all this as I walked around the back of our house to hang up clothes and saw a tiny little bird huddled on the path.  I assumed at first that it was dead, but upon further inspection it was just trying to hide.  What to do?

I have a cat that catches everything—frogs, birds, toads, bugs, lizards, bats, you name it.  She is a hunter extraordinaire.  She was at the moment sound asleep on my bed, but I knew it would not be long before she would be prowling “like a hungry lion, seeking whom she could devour”.  I gently picked up the tiny bird and placed it in my glove covered hand.  It was the baby of one of the beautiful songbirds that I hear outside my window each morning.    It looked at me forlornly and shivered.  I put it up on a tree limb and it promptly fell off.  I put it back on and it promptly fell off again.   I put it on a window ledge and it closed its eyes and went to sleep, obviously exhausted.  I left it there for several hours hoping Mama bird would coax it into flying, but Mama bird seemed to be nowhere around.

Finally I took it into the front yard and began “flying lessons”.  I gently tossed the baby up into the air.  He put his little wings half way out and swiftly dove back to the ground.  I gently picked him up and threw him again, and this time he put his wings straight out and glided quite a distance.  I picked him up and threw him again and again until finally he got brave enough to actually flap his wings a bit and land in a tree in our yard.  I threw him up one last time and he flew over the concrete wall and into the neighbor’s “catless”yard.   Now I can’t guarantee that this little one is going to make it, or wake me each morning with a delightful bird song of thanks.  But it felt good  to know that at least I gave him some “flying skills” and rescued him from a sure death in the McCaul yard.

It was then that God spoke to me “You teach baby birds to fly”.  And I realized that is how I would describe my ministry at New Life School.  

New Life School is not your ordinary Christian school. Yes, we are offering children an education that is head and shoulders above the public schools system.  We want them to marvel in the God’s creation, and learn to think logically not just by rote.  We want them to understand God’s place in the history of the human race, we want them to have integrity, to love justice and kindness and to walk humbly with their God.   All of our 200 students are baby birds that we are teaching to fly.

 But beyond that, about 25% of our children are shivering, exhausted, and being stalked by the hungry lion of poverty.  They are HIV orphans.  They are children who come from homes where the alcoholic father beats and misuses them.  They are children who have been rescued from child prostitution.  They are the forgotten who live under a tarp in the dump area with an abandoned mother or whose house is a broken down shanty outside of an open sewer.  Through a sponsorship program we invite them to New Life School and feed them large doses of love, hope, and acceptance.  We feed their spirits, their bodies and their minds.  We give them hope for a bright future.  They are doing great on their tests, and are learning skills that give them hope.  They are relishing the love and attention given to them.    We are teaching them to fly.

We give the children a school uniform and mix these bruised, forgotten, “broken-winged” children with children from our church families and other families in Phnom Penh.  Teachers mentor, friendships are formed, encouragement is given.  I believe the harmonious song of joy and faith that comes from this unique mixed choir of children is a delight to our Father.

Yes, as Director of New Life School, and with your help, I’m helping baby birds to fly.  Thank you SO much for believing in Chuck and me and supporting us financially or in your prayers.  Without you we could not be here.

Also, if you’re interested or know someone who might be interested in knowing more about providing scholarships to children at New Life School, we have about 12 children waiting to receive their wings.  Check out our website at http://www.nlfcambodia.org.

Cynthia McCaul