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A Short-termer’s Testimony

Joyce’s  Testimony from CCPC:
Joyce was here on a short-term team with her church both last year and this year. Both times she served at KCC. 

I clearly remember coming to KCC last summer with much anxiety, wondering how an awkward girl like me could face the university students and sustain a conversation with them, let alone form a relationship with them.  Then my world was rocked on the first day when the very first conversation I had with a group of three girls led straight into sharing our testimonies–past the small talk and past the potential awkward silences. It had broken whatever barriers there may have been, and ultimately, our relationship had been founded in Christ who is unchanging. As I spent a week with the students at KCC, I not only was able to further my relationship with them but also, God convicted me of my complacency in my Christian walk through them. Their boldness to share their life, struggles, and faith with not only our team but also to strangers challenged me. Their eagerness to know more about Jesus and their faith through their questions they asked humbled me. Their passion for worship and fellowship moved me. And by God’s grace, I had the opportunity to go back to learn more and see the work God’s been doing this past year.

IMG_3310Joyce on the far left during last year’s visit

As I prayed and prepared to go to Cambodia this summer, my heart was conflicted. I was so eager to go back, and at the same time, I was nervous. This time, it was not because I was worrying about forming relationships with the students. This time, I was nervous because I wasn’t sure how things might have changed within the last year. I myself wasn’t sure of what expectations I held in my heart, but I feared any disappointments I may come to encounter. I feared the possible heartbreak from hearing about students leaving the church or falling away from faith. I feared that I would compare what I had learned and experienced last year with what I would learn and experience this summer. Even through my anxieties, God gently reminded me through His Word to be less consumed in my own feelings and thoughts–that He must increase and that I must decrease.

So it was such a breath of fresh air from my own thoughts and fears when I first re-entered the doors of KCC and the sense of familiarity gushed in. It was calming to see the familiar faces of the pastors, missionaries, and students and it gave me much joy to see that they still had their joyful hearts, still eager to learn and serve. I also witnessed some changes that really encouraged me and reminded me of God’s faithfulness. Within a year, the women’s dorm grew from 7 women to now over 20! Within a year, I also saw that the number of students who were taking ownership and being leaders of the ministry had grown. On the flip side, some of the fears that I had in my heart were a reality. But instead of the anticipated disappointment and heartbreak, I was reminded that even these things are a part of God’s perfect plan. Things may seem to have gone awry in our eyes, but God is sovereign and He is glorified in both these “good” and “not so good” changes.

14750800796_f2f4d2d32e_oJoyce on the far left this year – fútbol!

My time in Cambodia and at KCC has been so short. What I’ve seen and experienced is merely a glimpse of the bigger picture–of the ministry there and of what God’s great plan is.  What I’ve seen through the students and the missionaries has once again challenged me, and the relationships I’ve formed with them remind me that life beyond the praises and thanks of the church is not always so fine and dandy. Both the students and the missionaries encounter struggles in their lives and battle with sin, and I was deeply convicted to be in prayer for them and the work God is doing through them in Cambodia. I don’t know what changes the next 365 days will bring in the lives of each individual and as a ministry, but one thing that I know is that God is good. He has been faithful from the very beginning and He will continue to be faithful until the very end.

14587667360_1cc460568b_oGroup pic after evangelizing on campus

Family Update

2014 has been a full year for the Lee household that has brought us through some great highs and lows.  It’s difficult to capture it all but we hope you get a glimpse of how God is working our lives and in His people on this side of the world.

PAUL

Paul has faced the obvious challenges that come with his expanded roles and responsibilities, but he is thankful for the faithfulness of God in his life, family and ministry.

PL OrientationGiving a Team Orientation to a short-term team

Paul has grown in his gratefulness for his teammates. Working with others in any ministry context is fraught with potential conflicts but Paul is thankful that those conflicts have helped him appreciate the team in Cambodia more and more. It is confirmation that God is the one that has called this team together. On the mission field, one does not know how long we will be together so we have been learning to cherish the time we do have together.

2014 Jul Lees w InternsSharing a meal w teammates, a visiting Pastor and summer interns

“Success” is also another struggle as we are starting to close in on fourth year here. God has been teaching Paul what biblical “success” looks like. By some standards we would not be considered “successful”, but we have been thankful for all the work that God is doing . Even with the absence of large number of churches being planted, many national partners in countries all throughout Southeast Asia are faithfully ministering to their churches day in and day out in the midst of challenging societal, governmental and especially spiritual difficulties. Even with the growing secularism and materialism in the educated youth,  many young national believers are leading praise for Sunday worship, evangelizing to other students even as they are rejected and persevering as they share their faith to skeptical family members.  Even as teammates and friends are called to new mission fields back home, we have learned to appreciate how God is using them for his kingdom purposes.

As a father to missionary children, Paul has been especially thankful for what God has been in the lives of Caleb and Nate. As friends have been leaving, Paul has seen his sons grow in their relationships with the neighborhood children. Initially Caleb and Nate were hesitant especially with the language barriers but they have grown in their willingness to open up to their new friends and be vulnerable and to enjoy spending time with them. Paul has also seen a growing desire in his sons to share in the ministry that is taking place. They have expressed the desire to travel with Paul to the villages on his visits to different church planting sites. This has been a blessed answer to prayer.

Daily Ritual w Neighborhood FriendsDaily Ritual w Neighborhood Friends

AKJ Boys w KidsMaking friends at AKJ during the Medical Missions trip

SUSAN

After two years of the craziness as well as the joys of being the short-term team (STT) coordinator, Susan has decided to step down. It has been a wonderful way for a stay-at-home missionary mom to learn more about and serve her team. It’s provided a way for her to meet so many fellow believers and get a snapshot of the work He’s doing through His people all over.

Campus Evangelism w KCC & CCPC
Campus Evangelism w KCC and STT from CCPC

With the end of her responsibilities as STT coordinator, Susan will restart her English classes at KCC in October. Teaching English has been a great way to show love to the students and build a closer relationship. She longs serve them well, teaching them effectively.

The exhaustion of life this year and the heartaches of the constant goodbyes have exposed many of Susan’s anxieties and desire for control and perfection; ultimately her pursuit for worth and security outside of Christ. Yet through these times, she is experiencing a nearness with her Lord, bringing much freedom and joy found only in the refuge of her Savior.

CALEB & NATE

More often than not, Paul and Susan respond to their demanding schedules with stress and anxiety. Caleb and Nate usually receive the brunt of it, whether in the form of an undeserved tirade or an unspoken, weighty expectation to keep in line and not get in the way. Over the years, God has slowly and gently brought repentance and change for all of us. Our relationships with one another has grown deeper.

Susan’s fifth year of homeschooling is starting off well. We are starting to acknowledge the fruits of our labor and perseverance. We’re thankful both boys not only appreciate but want to be homeschooled. God has been kind in providing like-minded homeschooling missionaries to be source of wisdom and encouragement.

Homeschooling w Dad: Coke & MentosScience w Dad: Coke & Mentos Experiment

Homeschool Co-op: Math GamesHomeschool Co-op: Math Games

We have been continually asking you to pray for the boys’ friends. Thank you for praying. Our God is faithful. In the midst of the many goodbyes, God has at the same time brought friends into our lives in ways unexpected. We know circumstances can always change but we’re learning to be thankful in each moment and acknowledge His good and faithful provisions.

Caleb's 10th BDay w Friends
Caleb’s 10th BDay w Friends & Neighbors

4 July Visiting Yoon Kids
4 July @US Embassy w Visiting Yoon Kids

We’re learning that “God wants to bring us to the end of ourselves so that we would see our need for a relationship with him as well as with others” (Lane & Tripp, relationships: A Mess Worth Making, p.8). We want to thank God for not settling for our temporary comfort and happiness. We want to thank God for drawing us to Him. We want to thank God for you. Thank you for your faithful friendship and partnership, love and support, prayers and gifts.

PLEASE PRAY that we would learn to live a less driven and busy life rooted in “the fear of not being enough and having enough, the fear of losing face and losing control, the fear of missing the mark and missing out” but much more of a called life (Scotty Smith, Everyday Prayers).

Paul has been overseeing the church planting work in other countries outside of Cambodia since April of this year. (For security reasons the specific country is not named).  It has been a blessing to see how God has been working in the other countries in Southeast Asia.

Earlier in the year Paul got a chance to travel through the provincial area in one of these countries where some of our national partners have been church planting. He visited many village pastors faithfully ministering to their congregation in the midst of difficult situations. One particular visit made a deep impression on Paul’s heart. During this visit, Paul had the opportunity to sit and talk inside the house of one of the pastors. He learned that the house used to be a house church. The pastor explained that after 1975, when the government attempted to close all the churches, a group of Christians met in a room in the attic of the house. The pastor took Paul through a narrow stairwell and they walked up the steep steps to an attic space with a ceiling so low that everyone had to stoop the whole time. The pastor recounted how believers worshipped in secret for twenty years to avoid government persecution. What was remarkable was that many of the pastors leading the church today worshipped in that very attic space.

It was a wonderful reminder that persecution doesn’t hinder God’s plans for his church, in fact He uses them for His purposes. It is also a reminder that God has his own timing for his church.

cross

 

Please Pray

- that God would continue to encourage the pastors as they lead the church

- that the church may be faithful in worship as they face challenges of all kinds

For those who send donations via checks, please note that the MTW address for donations is changing to:

Mission to the World

PO Box 2589
Suwanee, GA 30024-0982

We apologize for any inconvenience. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us and we’d be glad to help in any way.

Again, we truly appreciate all the ways you continue to bless and support us. We hope you know you are in our hearts and prayers.

All around the globe, people have been greeting one another with words like “Happy Easter” or “He’s Risen!”

At our church, Easter was just another Sunday. There was no sunrise service, special choir or potluck meal. There were no pastel-colored decorations or egg hunts for the kids. In fact, most of the congregation was on their way back from their hometown visit during Khmer New Year.

Despite the lack of Easter customs we’re accustomed to, this ordinary Sunday was no less special. As we worshipped alongside our brothers and sisters at Khmer Christian Church (KCC) this Easter Sunday, we were reminded that we have been “called to freedom,” not so that we can satisfy our own desires but through love to serve one another (Galatians 5:13).

Then after service I learned that one of our members, Sopheak had left the women’s dormitory. Sopheak first came to the city about eight months ago from her village. She was filled with fear and loneliness as she navigated a new life in a new place. She missed her family but over time as she heard the gospel she realized she had a new family in the church. Last month she was baptized as she publicly acknowledged her faith in Christ. She also shared the good news with her family who promptly forced her to quit the job we helped her get and leave the women’s dormitory. There are other students facing the same struggles with their families.

Our Lord is Risen! He is Alive! We are surrounded by reminders that we live in a fallen world – in the church in Cambodia, familial persecution is one of the most painful reminders. But we are reminded that our Risen Lord is King over even difficult situations such as Sopheak’s and that His Gospel will not falter. That is why we are thankful for the church here that does not give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:25) so that we may be reminded together of the truth that Christ our Savior and Lord is Risen and is the foundation of our hope all year round. We are thankful for this ordinary Sunday to be a reminder of this truth in the midst of our earthly reality.

2013 Dec The students

Please pray for the young believers at KCC. Pray for their spiritual growth and for protection from the schemes of the evil one. Pray for wisdom as they struggle to honor their parents and live out their new identities in Christ. Pray for soften hearts so that the parents would be willing to listen.

Please pray for Sopheak that she would know that God has not left her. Pray that she would not abandon her faith but instead God would pursue her and meet her where she is. Pray that God would grant her wisdom and humility in the manner she deals with her family. Pray that God would work in her family through this circumstance.

Please pray for our family. Pray for our hearts. It is easy to get jaded or to doubt. It is easy to get swamped with all the activities, neglecting the relationship with our Lord. Pray that we would be firmly rooted in this truth and boldly proclaim it to one another and to those God brings into our lives.

Please pray for Susan’s dad who still doesn’t know this freedom. Please ask that God would bring messengers who would lovingly and effectively proclaim the Good News to him.

We’re Still Alive


The Lees in Cambodia are alive and…alive. Life is constantly changing and jam-packed. Finding time to process as well as articulating and sharing with you has been a challenge but we hope you know that you are often thought of and prayed for. We miss you and long for a time of fun and fellowship.

We wanted to share with you a recent and significant change. Paul will be expanding his role in Southeast Asia. Along with his current role as co-leader of the MTW Cambodia team, working with the three of our church plant sites and working with the national pastors in Cambodia, he will work with the national partners in Vietnam and in Myanmar, helping in their church planting efforts in their respective countries.  Please pray for physical health and endurance as he travels in-country as well as abroad. Please pray for wisdom as he begins to learn and get to know the people and their respective ministries in the new countries. 

photo 4Saying goodbye to Dad means a treat at the airport’s Burger King

For the rest of the family, it is life as usual. Right now, the whole family is focusing on keeping their heads above water. The boys are finishing up their school year and all their extra-curricular. God has provided a couple of wonderful friendships for the boys that have been a source of joy and comfort. However, their closest one will be returning to the States in June, after have many years of life here. Please pray as they go through another series of goodbyes, losing another close friend. Please pray for comfort but also that their hearts would not grow jaded and guarded or resentful. Please pray that God would not only provide a long-term friendship but that they would learn to draw near to their Lord.

photo 1
Laser Tag with their friend & older brother

 photo 2
Learning to appreciate classical music
in their Classical Conversation class

Susan is continuing to teach English conversation classes, coordinate short-term teams, and lead an accountability group with two young Khmer sisters. Recently, Susan has been helping her students with job opportunities and basic professional development skills. Please pray for physical and spiritual strength and perseverance.


DSCN1583
Students prepare skits from a lesson
based on a story in the Jesus Storybook Bible

KCC’s Women’s Dorm

Dear Family & Friends,

Thank you for your constant support and prayers. We wanted to update you with one of the ministries with which we are involved.

Khmer Christian Church (KCC) opened the doors to the new women’s dormitory last month and have welcomed nine university students. Five of the students are believers and four non-believers.  Since entering, the students have been hearing about Jesus Christ and the Good News and have been learning about Christianity.

KCC Women's Dorm Students
KCC Women’s Dorm

Immediately after the start of the dorm, a short-term team came and provided many opportunities for sharing and teaching the Gospel and fellowship, through English classes using the Jesus Storybook Bible, a retreat, community walks, evangelism training, and simply relationship building.

English Class

Please Pray that God would strengthen the hearts of the believing sisters and would open the hearts to the students who have yet to know Christ.

One of the female students is Yean Channa, Pastor Tet’s younger sister. She is a 20-year old university student, who works part-time waitressing at a restaurant and also as a seamstress. She has been a believer for about a year-and-a-half and she was baptized in November 2012. Below is her testimony translated into English:

Life Before I Believed in Christ
Before I believed in Christ, I was a person who always seemed to experience failure in every part of my life. It showed in the lack of hope and faith I had in myself. When I was younger, I always felt unloved and neglected by my family. When my older siblings went out, they would never take me with them. Rather, I was left alone in the house or made to watch over my younger nephew and niece. I always felt abandoned and unloved. There was no one who understood how I felt.

I hated myself for all my failures and the insecurity I felt. I started hating others as well. I enjoyed tormenting others. When I got angry I would tear up my sister’s books. I especially hated younger children. I would bully them and cause them to cry. This desire to hurt others is what I hated the most about myself.

When I was in 11th and 12th grade, my family ran into financial problems. We had borrowed a great deal of money and I felt this constant uncertainty about how we would survive day to day. I felt sick to my heart when I saw my mom and dad full of anxiety. I remember when we started selling all of our livestock and, even after all of that, we still could not repay all the debts we owed. My family borrowed more money from another lender to pay the first lender. When I went to school, I tried to put my family problems out of my mind and enjoy my time with my friends but whenever thoughts of my family entered my mind, I couldn’t study. I felt like there was no light in my life. I was tired of life and, as more and more problems seemed to crop up, I felt exhausted.

Life After I Believed in Christ
My life changed completely when I believed in Christ. The first difference I noticed was the hope in my heart in whatever I was doing or thinking. I lived with the truth that every minute I lived and every step that I took God was always with me. Whether good times or bad, I was encouraged by God’s Word. His Word told me that everything I was given and everything I experienced came from God and, more than that, God was mine and I was his.
After I started believing in God, I saw my family differently. I came to realize that they loved me very much. Even when I felt unloved by my family, the truth was they loved me so very much. It is the same with God as well. There was a time when I didn’t know God and lived against God but the truth is He has always loved me more than I could imagine. Eventually I realized this. He died on the cross because he loved us and he cleansed us of all our sins.

God never threw me away. God never left me alone. Rather He was always with me, encouraging me, whether I was crying or smiling. I thank God for giving me the ability to love other people, people I hated before. I thank God for choosing me to be His child. I thank God for changing my life. I thank God for dying for my sins.

Channa
Channa @KCC Retreat

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