If you were to drive through a village here, you would find yourself surrounded by beautiful rice fields. Rice fields here! And rice fields there! Rice fields are everywhere. If you were to open your eyes and look at them closer, you would notice that some of them are ripe for harvest while others will be ready in a month or so. Some farmers are joyfully reaping theirs now, while others are looking forward with excitement to their turn. They look forward to it, but harvest is not the most relaxing time of the year for them if we consider their demanding work in the fields. For instance, don’t farmers have to bend down in the heat of the sun to sickle their rice stalks, tie them up into sheaves, and then bring them back to their houses on ox carts to thresh and dry them? Isn’t it one of the most tiring and busiest times too? Aren’t some of them already overwhelmed by its workload, and have started searching for people to lend them a hand? Isn’t it indeed the most joyful time and yet the most strenuous time? Much of this parallels our experience as we labor as missionaries here awaiting a spiritual harvest. The work is exhausting but joyful. And ultimately, we are glad that this harvest depends not on the weather or even our zeal, but on the work of our God who is the LORD of the harvest.
We have been living in Angkjeay village in Kampot province for over 4 months now. The majority of our time is spent with the village church plant and our English outreach classes. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we reach out to children and teenagers through teaching them English. We have divided the children into three classes. The first class between 12 to 1 pm is a class for students who have just started to learn English. There are 30 students in this class. The second class between is 1.15 to 2 pm for young children between the age of 3 to 8. There are 50 students in this class. The third class between 5:30 to 6:30 pm is a class for advanced learners. There are 20 students in this class. Most of them are either in secondary school or in high school. Therefore, there are about 100 children altogether.
On Friday afternoons, we have a 30-minute Bible study with the advanced learners. We are chronologically reading through the Khmer Children’s Bible with them, and then I give a short sermon on the passage and write down a memory verse for them to translate from English to Khmer. Since these children are back to school now, most of them can’t come early to read the Khmer Children’s Bible by themselves. But the two older classes have been memorizing the Children’s catechism in Khmer, and we have been going through it before class. In any case, we always begin our classes on Monday and Wednesday by reinforcing the Bible lessons that they learn in Sunday school class through reciting the memory verses and singing songs.
We’ve also been running Sunday school class on Sunday morning between 6:30 to 8 am. There are about 60 children attending that we know mainly from the English classes, and the neighborhood. We can see God’s faithfulness in drawing them to Himself. About ten of these students are interested in attending the church worship service with us at the church plant. As we only have a motor bike and the church plant is far from their houses, they are willing to take turns coming with us for the time being. We are praying that older students will be willing to ride their bicycles to the church plant after it has moved closer to their houses.
On Sundays, I have continued preaching at the Prey K’Chiey church plant, and Sokha continues to assist with the music. I recently finished a series of 10 sermons on the Ten Commandments. Four Bible school students in their third year of study from Esther’s village have begun to share the preaching duties with me, so I preach twice a month now. We are looking for a location for Sunday worship that is about halfway between missionary Esther’s location and our house. We have been encouraged by Orm Sorn, an older man, Ming Saron, an older woman, Oun Navy, a high school student, and eight other girls who have been faithfully coming to worship with us on Sundays. Orm Sorn and Ming Saron are neighbors. They have been riding their bicycles about 30 minutes from their village to worship on Sundays with us. Sorn used to work for a Christian NGO, but had a stroke and has numbness in both legs now. Ming Saron heard the gospel from her daughter who is married to a pastor in the city. We had lunch with them for the first time at our place last Saturday. We also took that opportunity to encourage them with God’s word and pray with them.
Oun Navy, a high school student has also been riding her bicycle about 30 minutes from her village to worship on Sundays with us. We went to visit her this Tuesday. She lives with her mother. Her father died many years ago. Her mother, neighbors, and relatives came to visit us while we were at her place. We introduced ourselves and shared the gospel with them, and we were touched by three women who asked Jesus to heal parts of their bodies: one of them had pain in her left shoulder and hand, the second woman had a constant headache and the third woman had a few growths in her eyes and a sore throat. We prayed for them and invited them to ride their bikes to church with Navy. Due to their age, I do not think all of them can.Though I believe that they will come if we conduct a Bible study at their place.
Also, we have continued building good relationship with Yeay Chrong. In spite of her poverty, she always drops by to give us whatever she has. She has been bringing us watermelons, pork, cakes, both raw and boiled sweet potatoes. She gets upset if we do not take them. She said if we do not take her gifts, we do not respect her. My wife often gives her food and fruit to eat whenever she visits us. Recently, she came while we were having lunch with our Orm Sorn and Navy, his wife, Ming Saron, Sophal and Sarath (two Bible college students) at our place, we invited her to stay with us to listen to them share Bible passages and their testimonies. We also praised God together with a few songs. My wife played the guitar and Yeay Chrong liked it. When she came by again the next time, she asked if my wife could play the guitar and sing for her again. She said that she could listen to the music all day long. Since we are going to start a baptism class, we’ve decided to invite her to listen. Pray that the Lord will bring her closer to Him.
Matthew 9:37-38 says this “Then he said to his disciples, the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Our situation echoes the truth of this verse. We have many opportunities before us, but we do not have the time to take advantage of them all. So please join us in praying that God will send more workers into the harvest fields.
Luke and Sokha
With our recent marriage and a few supporters needing to reduce support or stop support over the past few months, we are in need of some monthly support. If you are interested in supporting us or know a church or friend that may be interested in supporting us, please let us know. Here is the giving information: Donation website: www.mtw.org/donations
To donate by check write “Luke Smith- 17118” in the memo line, and send it to: MTW, P.O. Box 116284, Atlanta, GA, 30368-6284.