Archive for cambodia team1 2018

Gracious Gifts Keep on Giving

Isaiah 40:31
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Monday mid afternoon after treacherous downpour rains and extremely busy traffic, we finally made it to Chbar Mon over an hour late. The clouds started breaking and the sun was trying to shine  and there stood waiting with loving arms and big smiles the New Life Fellowship team. I had worked with their team last year in summer of 2017 for many days. Seeing them all again standing there was just like seeming them yesterday. Pastor Sary Chea and his lovely wife Sophea are truly shining God’s light. They are so genuine and kind. From where they began to what they have accomplished and continue to grow is just amazing. They started in a little home church room in the bottom of his brother’s house. Now they have an absolutely beautiful church right in the middle of town on the busiest street. They are so gracious and thankful to all of us at Vista for making their dreams come true. They glorify God each step of the way.

Besides starting the year with over 30 new baptisms, they now have music classes twice a week with over 17 students. They teach over 40 kids English classes each day from 5-6:00pm. They have also planted 3 home churches as a result of this new location. The people and youth in the area love to just come and meet at New Life to gather around and visit. They feel safe and feel God’s love all around. We all were so glad we were able to visit them, see the new church, and to meet everyone on their team. We gathered together in a big circle and worshiped and Pastor Sary, Justin, and Tod all spoke lifting up their team, blessing their church and praising the Lord. We all prayed together and then at the end of our fellowship, they sat us all in the middle of the circle and prayed over us. It was very powerful listening to them chanting and praising our Lord in Khmer. Is one of the most uplifting feelings seeing God’s work being done on the other side of the world.

2 Corinthians 9:11
You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

Through our mission trip, we have visited Daughters of Cambodia and 3 Strands (part of Agape International Mission), which are two phenomenal organizations that help change the lives of men and women victims of human trafficking. They teach and empower those who have been trapped in the sex industry in Cambodia to walk free with God and start a new life with healing, dignity, and the means to prosper and grow.

We continue to shine God’s light here in Cambodia.

Love and Blessings,

Melissa K. Baz 

Hard Places

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2)
Yesterday morning, we had the indescribable privilege of getting to serve with the best people I know at Hard Places Community (HPC). HPC is an organization who serves and advocates for children living on the streets that are being exploited economically and sexually. The Vista teams I have been a part of have always gone to HPC, so I was really excited to go back again this year. Angie and I got to plan a lesson on the parable of the lost sheep with a skit, games, and crafts for their morning kids program. We had a blast working together leading up to the trip and implementing it too. It was really neat to see the whole team dig in and love like Jesus. We are there for such a brief time that it can feel like we really aren’t doing that much, but we are encouraging the Khmer staff by giving them a break but also by demonstrating we believe they have great worth, and we value what they’re doing on the other side of the world at Vista.

We got to sit with Panha before we were with the kids where he shared with us that Vista is one of only 5 groups that they allow to come in and work with them. What they do is highly sensitive, so it is truly an honor to have the history of trust and relationship we do with them. Panha shared HPC’s current caseload, their successes, and their struggles with complete transparency. The weight he carries is heavy, and he bears it with a grace and humility beyond his years. I can’t say enough good things about him; I could sit and listen to him talk for hours! I was deeply struck by everything he was saying and even though I have been there four times now and heard similar stories each time, I deeply felt every situation he related to us whether good or evil and wept for the people in each story.

Panha, Sineat, and the rest of the Khmer staff are shining the light of Christ into the darkest corners of this world and being able to come alongside them and help in any way I can has been the most fulfilling and rewarding experience of my life. They are in the trenches day-in-and-day-out, but the work they do is changing the lives of children who have been exploited. I am a better person because I know them.
~ Jenna

From Justin Bradshaw

Ta Prohm is the modern name of the temple in Angkor, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia, built in the Bayon style largely in the late 12th and early 13th centuries and originally called Rajavihara. It is one of the more popular Buddhist temples to visit in Siem Reap because it has giant trees that have grown over and around the stone walls and buildings.

This was our last stop yesterday afternoon before dinner and it was a fascinating site to behold. Apparently, since last year, a number of sections of the temple and its walls have collapsed and there are large signs displaying the restoration process. Not a bad run considering the stones were put in place over 700 years ago. However, it was thrilling reminder to me that the Word of the Lord remains true.

Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Acts 17: 24-27, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”

All of creation was made to reflect the character of the Creator. This is what it means to worship God with our lives. And out of all the things that God created, humans have done the worst job of consistently worshiping Him. We have gone astray and sought to worship other things; other gods, even building places for the them to live and for us to go in order to worship them. It was with misguided but well-intentioned plans that these temples were built. But, praise God that when humanity has gone wrong, the rest of creation reflects his glory.

The reason this temple site is such a big attraction is not the temple. It is the trees! It is the beauty and magnificence of God’s character-reflecting creation that is on display and literally overwhelming the place that was built to worship something other than Him. It is tearing down the walls of stone that were assembled and dedicated to another. God is actively taking back what has always belonged to Him.

Pray that this reality would not only be true of this physical structure, but of the thousands of people that walk through it each day; that in the shadow of the trees people would realize that the God that created them is not far from each one of us and that they would seek Him as Lord of their lives.

This is what God is doing in Cambodia. As we have spent the past two and a half days with our college kids, we have not just been tourists. We have seen a glimpse of how God is taking back this country for Himself. He is growing these kids, like trees, that will be firmly planted in business and tourism and architecture and government and the marketplace, and because they know Him, they will reflect the character of God in those places.

It has been good to be with them; sharing time and smiles and stories and experiences and encouragement. It has been better to be reminded of the purposes of God and that He will prevail in this place and in the place we will return to in a few days. Praise be to God!

P.S. Dinosaurs were real!

(Stegosaurus carved into the temple wall)

Love, Destruction, and Redemption 

We landed in Phnom Penh after over 24 hours of travel. As we walked out of the airport it was after 10 pm Cambodia time and about 20 people were there to greet us. I’ve never been here before, but within seconds I felt the incredible love that they were giving me. It was both humbling and a call to action of how we should be greeting people who are new. They were showing me that we are a family, so I was immediately loved because I am in that family.
The next morning we went to Toul Sleng to learn the history and grasp a better understanding of this country. Toul Sleng was a school that was transformed into a prison that tortured many people and is now a museum. As a teacher, it broke my heart to walk through rooms that had once been used for education but were turned into a space of evil. Pictures of the victims line the walls so we won’t forget them; the museum exists so we never forget the destruction to human life that happened at this place. It was a sobering experience to walk through Toul Sleng, but one that is necessary to understand Cambodia.
We spent the rest of the day with the kids at Prek Eng 3. It is at PE3 that I am reminded that Jesus redeems it all. While with these kids we played games, got to know each other, and sang worship songs. This place is full of love and joy. The children never cease to give hugs and smiles. They joke and play with ease. It is a true picture of a family and they let our team into that space so easily because they love with the love of Christ so well.
~ Angie

From Tod Heath

After travelling together from Friday afternoon on and visiting the Angkor Wat complex that is the great symbol of Cambodian history and culture, we have found our friends to be wonderfully warm and outgoing, and really funny.  Savong (Prek Eng 3 House Parent) is quieter, watching all and helping all the time.  We have sung worship songs and talked about the studies and hopes for these college students.  But this morning (Sunday the 24th) was a much deeper experience for those of us on the team, as we worshiped and listened to Justin’s message and then shared prayer requests.  The Spirit of the Lord is at work for us, and we were struck greatly by the openness and honesty of our brothers and sisters.

To be blunt, college is very hard, and as an Asian culture the pressure in Cambodia is high.  There can be no failure for a Cambodian student anyway, but these folks have the added weight of pleasing us, too.  They are under a lot of monetary pressure, but their natural inclination is to be sure their siblings have enough first.  They forego and they give away.  Seldom have I seen Christ in people more clearly.
So, we mourned with them and they with us, and the Lord is honoring that.  Our time driving back from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh was light and our parting was sweet. In a couple days we will be back at Prek Eng 3, and some of the older kids will be able to come from their university student center, others we will see again on the next trip.