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Inspirational visit to Elim Cambodia

Director of Training Dave Newton and his wife Liz recently set out to see the work being done by Elim in Cambodia and were pleasantly surprised by what they found.

If you had told us 5 years ago that we would be spending 10 days in Cambodia in February 2018 we would have laughed in disbelief! However, after our daughter Hannah launched out on an adventure to join the Elim Missions team in Cambodia for 9 months this year, myself and my wife Liz felt it was impossible not to pay a visit.

Arriving at Phnom Penh airport was a moment of reunion after being restricted to Skype chats for 5 months and it was great to get a hug despite being confronted by 34 degrees heat. An authentic tuk-tuk ride down the back streets of the city to the Elim Church Centre and Elim missionaries David and Esther Allen’s home and we now had no doubt we were in Cambodia!

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There would be so much we could talk about as we had some moments of relaxation and holiday alongside opportunities to get involved with the great work here. So here are a few highlights from the trip.

After recovering from the 17-hour flight we had the amazing privilege of visiting the Elim Church Centre. On a Friday afternoon, we weren’t really expecting much more than a look around a building but were surprised to be greeted by people in every room of a 3 story building.

This hive of activity offering employment and protection to so many people was a joy to see. One of the highlights was being greeted by 50+ toddlers and babies all receiving expert care and supervision from the staff at the Early Learning Centre. Liz particularly enjoyed sitting in on Hannah leading a bible study with girls around her own age who are in the BE FREE program.

It was so clear that God is at work in the place offering safety, refuge and restoration. It was striking how the Cambodians we met so quickly welcomed us into their daily lives. We had heard so much about the ‘programs’ of BE FREE, ELC and Church Planting here but each program was based on simple daily interactions and Jesus conversations, organic and Holy Spirit-led.

On Sunday we had a great day in the Phnom Penh church, it was a privilege to work alongside Pastor Chamnap, Elim’s National Leader in Cambodia, and speaking at the service. Then it was off to the villages in a minibus, there were so many church planters and volunteers wanting to go that the hot minibus was crammed Cambodian-style with people clambering to take part.

The raft ride over the lake was quite an adventure and eventually, we arrived in what seemed to us to be the middle of nowhere! Liz worked alongside a Cambodian missionary offering a medical clinic whilst the church planters gathered people for a church meeting.

In the next village, I joined the team where over 100 kids flocked to the mat for a kids club and I spoke in the house of an elderly man who had built a basic extension on his house to accommodate the church. Fantastic!

One standout encounter was with a man who had survived the terrible treatment of the Khmer Rouge 40 years ago. The reality of this event was sharp in our minds after reading in preparation for our trip here. This elderly man told us that during his capture someone had told him about Jesus Christ, he liked what he heard and was keen to know more.

However, it wasn’t until 40 years later when the church came to his village talking about Jesus that he heard the name of Jesus mentioned again. After hearing more the man gave his life to Jesus and was now leading the Village Churches in that province!

The final day of our stay presented the opportunity to invest in the leaders working here. It was fantastic to be jammed into a small room with leaders eager to learn, notepads in hands. During this time Liz led the Bible study with the BE FREE girls and we felt again the privilege of God at work through us.

Our time culminated in presenting Pastor Chamnap with his Elim credential card and praying over him, alongside his wife Nita, releasing him into his role as the National Leader of Elim Cambodia. It was wonderful to witness how David and Esther are committed to identifying, training and releasing leaders here. Our deepest thanks go to them for opening their home to us and Hannah, as well as showing us this beautiful land and its people.

The work here is inspirational and effective, please do pray for the team here that many more may come know our wonderful Saviour. So much of what we have seen and experienced has blessed, encouraged and surprised us, we even enjoyed the cold showers!

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