Missionaries George and Shary Frahm – Serving in Cambodia

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God Answers Prayer ~ As Only He Can Do

One of the most encouraging texts in the Bible is Philippians 4:6-7 which let us know to take our requests to God. This is why we start projects including our time in Cambodia with prayers. While there, other needs come across our table and we start those projects also with prayer. This was the case for a need from three church workers to provide transportation to reach out into some of the more remote villages. We know all three of these workers, but especially Pastor Samuels and Visech. So, we started praying.

Our intention was to raise funding for three motorbikes as a project. But as we prayed, we also let the need be known to others that there was a need. But, we forgot about Matthew 18:20 and how God is present at all times. But He was, and acted just like it says in Isaiah 65:24. We weren’t even done praying when a co-worker contacted us saying that a single supporter wanted to purchase all three motorbikes for the field workers. Bright, shiny new motorbikes to carry the Word of God into remote villages where anything with more than two wheels cannot go.

The accompanying picture shows the three recipients as they receive their keys in a short ceremony to recognize their service.

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Were we surprised? Yes and no! We were surprised that God answered the prayer with the speed and in the manner He chose, providing the finished answer instead of help with a fund raising project like we were actually praying. This gave us an answer in days and weeks instead of the months we expected. But we were not surprised that God answered the prayer. This has happened before when we needed a generator because the power during the dry season failed almost daily. A single supporter stepped forward at that time and merely asked where to send his check for the entire amount. Nothing is to difficult for God (Jeremiah 32:27)

Guess we ought to study our bible more before we pray :-).

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Suffer The Little Children

IMG_3286Sunday was a special day for two little babies at Christ Lutheran Church in Phnom Penh. Pastor Naro conducted the baptism of Maria and Kensen, the two newest members of Christ Lutheran Church. Now, to many of our supporters this may not be a big thing, but here in Cambodia this is huge because it means that the parents are making a decision for their children to accept Christ.

We have worked in International Student Missions, in Indonesia, and also here in Cambodia. Normally the individuals we have witnessed baptized are adults or at least young people who can speak for themselves and are making a personal choice of Jesus as their savior. This is even greater because it means that the parents, have also made a choice to accept Christ. They value this opportunity as important enough to make a commitment to the life of their children, a commitment to bring them as Luther encouraged in the nurture of the Lord.

As Pastor Ravy translated for us, he quietly leaned over and said, “Next week, Pastor Songiim will have to do this for you. Next week, my son will also be baptized.” Pastor Songiim and his wife are the parents of Kensen, so this week is very special, and next week will be too.

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Seeing The Results of Christian Volunteers Beyond Its Shores

Today we were sitting in a local restaurant sipping on a coffee shake and doing some much needed catch up after a grueling week on the road outside the city. About midday a kindly gentleman approached us and asked where we were from. (not an uncommon question when we are out most days.) He introduced himself to us, speaking perfect English as if we were neighbors from all the years gone by in the US, but his obvious appearance told us that he was not from Cambodia nor the US. He hailed from Malaysia, just a plane flight of 1 ½ hours away.
His smile was so genuine and his heart clearly showed in conversation. He is currently teaching at the university across the street from where we sat at that point, teaching International Business Relations. He is 77 years young he told us. He looked very healthy and not at all showed the years in numbers listed here. His spirit spoke of a younger self inside, full of enthusiasm and frankness that was refreshing.
Dean received his PhD from Georgetown University in Washington DC. He studied in 1968-70, way back when we were still in college ourselves. We didn’t go to Woodstock in 1969, but he did. We didn’t walk thru Arlington National Cemetery and see the burial of so many men who died for a cause that the US was engaged in. But He did. So much seemed to impact his time in the US during those years when he was studying for his PhD.
“The real America isn’t in Washington DC you know,” he said. “The real heart of America is in its people outside the DC area. I have learned that the American people are the most generous people in the world and the only ones on this earth who will die for others in the world outside their own country. I’ve experienced the love of people in America, the Thanksgiving of turkey, the love of football, the stamina of golf.”

With a beaming smile he engaged us in conversation that so many others need to hear in the global international community who have ministered to international students coming to our shores of the United States to study and experience the American dream. Yes y’all, you and we do make a difference, perhaps many years after we would think it would be possible.
“America has it all,” he said. “You have democracy that is unparalleled in this world. Now you have elections that are a tight neck and neck race to your White House. In Malaysia the same people have been in power for 60 years. It may be called democracy there, but we all know what we see and what we hear about America is the best and it’s in the people who live there. They are the kindest people anywhere, and until I die with my boots on, I will always know this in my heart.”
Our hearts were touched deeply by the conversation with this kind man, who took the time and came to us to talk. We could have easily missed his passing as we sipped that cold drink and did some catchup on our computers. But a mighty God brought another one of His to us to hear some positive note about our important job as Americans. I am sure that Dean knew we were Christians, as do most internationals view Americans these days. That’s good.
We are hoping to spend more time with this man, to listen to his life story tucked into chapters as he has gone thru life just like we have. He is associate dean and adjunct professor specializing in technical government and international relations at The University of Cambodia, teaching to PhD students and being not their teacher, but their ‘coach’ as he calls himself. These students are so blessed to have him in their midst, and I truly hope that they realize that.
(No I didn’t have my shorthand notebook and pen out, so while I listened intently and tried to tuck this conversation into my brain in its entirety, I can honestly say that this is a synopsis of that conversation, but it shows us that all of us have been called to share life with the international community in one way.

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Upon This Rock ~

This past week we had coworkers here from the US (from Global Lutheran Outreach) to see God’s ministry at work here in Cambodia. After completing our time with them in Phnom Penh we headed out to Siem Reap and Snor Village to reconnect with this community that has grown exponentially since we were here in 2013, but they still remembered us in spite of that long absence, and a new group of children embraced our time while we were there. Pastor Samuel is shown with his wife Sophena and Obed (now age 4). As you can see Obed didn’t waste much time climbing into my lap at lunch and ‘sharing’ it with me. LOL, he is such a wonderful little guy. (I’m thinking he was told ‘Oma’ was coming to visit him. That name sure is easy to travel around.

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On Thursday our hosts shared God’s word with the village adults and children and then a meal of curry was shared with us (still voting for this as the national country dish).
Do you see the rock that stands singly in the middle of a field? The field is located behind the local well in front of the school and has been chosen for the site to build a church and dig a fish pond (to raise fish and support the church and local community). Thanks to Trinity Lutheran Church in Memphis TN and their consistent faithful support Pastor Samuel has been able to set aside and make a payment of 66% of the total cost of this land to date. Until this time the community has been meeting in the school during the rainy season and out in the community area under a tree in the dry season.

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Additionally, another young man by the name of Samarat has come forward and would like to also work with Samuel and church planter Daniel into the villages in the area to share the gospel. Samuel, as the recipient of a ministry motorbike last month, is now able to reach his four preaching stations on a regular basis to do services and spend time with his flock. These men have a great opportunity to share in areas still unreached with the gospel to this day. We are praising God for their passionate committed hearts to serve.

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Matthew 16:18 “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

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The Man on the Right ~

The man on the right you met in an earlier post. Samuel hopped into our van today as we traveled out to Kranluh District near Siem Reap. Actually we were close to the Thai border at our target site when we arrived. We were out to evaluate the area for a church plant for Daniel. For us it was a plus as we pray for and encourage him there, realizing our rolls in this as well for the future. (And for a student teacher for them.)

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Again I’m walking down a red dirt road in a village while the men talk in the house after our Christmas meal. As I turn around there is Samuel slowly walking behind me. I chuckle as I recall this is how we first met. I was walking down a red dirt road in a village, somewhere. He followed me then too.

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“You know you will always be my teacher.” He says. I nod.

I ask him what he thinks about this new plan I know only a little about as yet. “I think it is a great plan” he says with a smile. I expect no other response from him. These people roll with whatever is dealt.

While I would adore taking credit for what I will say next, I totally understand that I had nothing to do with it. It was Him working out the details again. You see, Samuel did not have a personal relationship with Vannarith. Sure he had gone thru LISA training a while back and realized how much he embraced and agreed upon the theology he was taught beyond his bible school training, which was not Lutheran. But somehow he was out there doing God’s work alone.

If we had not returned to Cambodia I’m thinking in my small mind that Samuel would still be out there ministering in Snor as he has been. Over two years have passed since we last met up. A lot has happened in this country and the church. Maybe someone else may have come along to encourage and pray for Samuel, but that I’ll never know.

One thing is for sure though. God has been working on this since the beginning. Pastor Samuel will be ordained in March. Now we are hearing that Samuel and Daniel will partner church plants together in Siem Reap area, Samuel remaining in Snor, Daniel nearby in Kranluh District. Samuel will now have a brotherhood of church leaders with him to grow the local church into eternity too.

As I walked down this red dusty dirt road, behind me come pockets of bicycling children on their way home from school. I saw two high schools on the main road as we drove thru the district as well. There are so many children everywhere. Samuel said that before the Khmer Rouge families usually had 8-11 children each, but now with the economy 5-8 is more the norm. Wow! That’s a lot of children.

With so much of this going on in this country, it’s no wonder why the church shouldn’t be targeting children’s’ ministry across the board to share the gospel back to their families and communities right now. Remember our December newsletter with the multitude of people trucks on the way to work in the garment factory. These were the kids born and raised one or two generations after the Khmer Rouge. There’s a lot of sharing Jesus to be done here for sure.

2016 is close by. There’s a lot on the agenda for the new year too.

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Playing Soccer in Cambodia means ~ (December 24, 2015)

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Has anyone ever played soccer in 94+ heat and humidity in the blazing sun in the heat of the day in bare feet? My admiration for such girls (bare feet) and guys running their hearts out being spurred on by their classmates in the stands.

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Our President is an avid soccer player even today and since we were on our way to Siem Reap for a Christmas service we made a stop in his home village of Kampong Thom to be a part of the tournament here. Interestingly there were four girl teams vs two guys, and yet we also saw a guy as the goalie on one girls team. It was one exciting tournament between two provincial high schools. As usual the kids are so shy to talk with us, but stand only an arms’ length away.  And here we are dressed in church attire too. 

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The game was hard fought and exciting as scores were exchanged between two very disciplined girl’s teams.  There were very few offsides calls and no cards, either red or yellow, although one player definitely had her own opinion. 

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On the sidelines as we watch, I’m working on the start of a teaching curriculum pilot program for church plant guys to teach English in their villages with they themselves being second language learners. Since our English following this week alone has increased a factor of 9, we are already realizing how complicated this planning can be.  The staff has called and texted their friends to come. Whew! They are giving up at least an hour a day to learn with us. 

Our first pilot place will be Siem Reap with Daniel, our church planter thee. There is some discussion to loan us out to him to get it going, but for now for now it’s just in the paper planning phase. 

George has been asked to add business management classes and office procedures and accountability to our already crowded church business plan structure formation responsibilities and daily devotions and bible study for the office staff. We’re using our life’s learning experiences to help get this all together for both of us working on it all at one time or another in support of each other. 2016 will be another busy year for ELCC. They are reaching out to the commune and garment factory workers nearby with classes and a contemporary afternoon church service too. 

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Where It All Began ~ (from December 20, 2015)

Prior to this was a post about a ‘little’ church in Battambang. It was a little church the last time we visited it. But today it is nearing 2016 and it has changed ~ a lot. Read on ~~~

It all began one day in Battambang at Trinity Lutheran Church. We were in the last semester of our time in Indonesia due to visa complications between the government and the university for many who were living and working on campus. We knew our last semester of teaching would be at the end of 2010 and then we would be returning to the US. Already many others had departed before us, to Vietnam, to Macau, to Papua. We were joining those ranks in our own exit. Even the president of the university was outbound at some point in the future. He and his family were heading back to the west coast of the US.

We had no idea where God wanted us to go. We visited friends in Bangkok, a family in Macau, and some former students in Taiwan. Each would have welcomed us we were sure, but it had to be where He wanted us to land next.

So then there was Cambodia, snuggled up next to Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. At a request of someone we had met in Indonesia who had been sent to Banda Aceh and then to Cambodia. We headed that way over a week’s break at school and were given a very whirlwind tour of the country. Honestly, we had no intent of returning to this ‘unknown’ in our minds. But God had other plans for us.

Fast forward and it is now at the end of 2015. We have been in the country for 7 weeks now. And today, Sunday the 20th, we are celebrating Christmas in Battambang at Trinity Lutheran Church where it all began back in 2015. Pastor Kosal is still the pastor of this church. I think we could consider it somewhat a church in the jungle as its by far not near the center of Battambang. It takes a few lefts and rights to get near the church and then because of the short narrow roads at the end, we must hike the rest of the way on foot.

This has not changed. Neither has the appearance of the church compound as we enter. I look around and it is just as I remember it. The buildings are solid, the yard is cleaned up, the exterior of the buildings aren’t worn out, and the same courtyard of that long ago is still is being used and is congested with young guys playing soccer of some sort.

There is a manger scene under a makeshift creche outside the church and outside the door on the platform is a decorated Christmas tree. Around the yard are paper decorations, sort of a cut out stencil sort of thing, plus a million balloons. I hope more than one person did all of those balloons.

The school has not changed either. There are still three classrooms and had it not been for the meals that were being served last night and today the desks would have still been inside those three rooms. The porch outside the school is till intact and very welcoming to the yellow walls of the exterior of the building.

This time I found the toilets and while they are of the usual squatty type, there is an adequate number of them to serve the community.

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The community. It is congested with men, women, and children all over the area between the school and church. For your first time readers, the complex is a defined square, with the church on the horizontal part of an L, with the school on a vertical section from that. The gate and the play area have not moved. Everything here is enclosed by fencing and a bolted gate. Additionally, I am escorted to Kosal’s home and find that there is a path between the church and his home that has evidence of travel of many times. Their is also a good white van in the drive with the church name and logo on it. That sure gets some good use I’m sure.

Enough said about the physical features of this compound, which, if I have dialogued correctly, you will believe does not have many changes from 2010 and 2015.

What impacted us on this visit though was the growth of the church, or maybe it was the spirit of this congregation that I should phrase it. This wasn’t an ‘old’ church or a ‘young’ church, but it was an ‘everyone church.’ I was impressed and encouraged how this flock now has leadership, a solid foundation of people who are standing up and are involved in this church. This includes both men and women. Additionally, we see teens and early 20’s people hanging out, investing their time and their lives into this place. I pulled back my files to that time five years ago and I can imagine that some of those kids who were just young kids then were now the very ones I was looking at.

Mind you, the Christmas program and service lasted a tad over three hours Sunday morning. No fans, no AC, just the breeze thru the grated windows to keep us cool. I didn’t notice much in the way of anything uncomfortable and from the actions of the locals in the audience of over 200 (at least) no one was in and out of their chairs for fear that they would miss any of the service. I could easily see why.

There is now a praise and worship band in this church. Loud, drummy, full of life. It reminded me of a long time ago with our VISA church in Saginaw, MI. That band was really loud too.

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There is now an active youth group who performed many times over during the morning, both in dance, and in song. Hands up, eyes focused upward, strong voices, and a definite stand to share their faith.

The adult choir sang out their hearts of joy.

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The kids performed dance and did movements to American songs that you and I would know, but that they had borrowed to share their Jesus as well.

Pastor Kosal did the sermon. He used no notes, engaged his congregation with his movements and his eyes and smile. His gestures signaled in his feeling during the presentation of his words of praise, encouragement, and lessons. Great inflection.

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Four points of his sermon are: (translated to us by Pastor Singe) from the book of John

1- All men live in sin. We love God but we are in sin.

2-We are burdened. We deserve our burden because we live in sin.

3-We can’t solve the problem because it becomes so far down. With no hope or if hopeless this is of all men.

4-We worship too many gods, but we have only ONE God. Because we are sinners, we will have burdens, sickness, and it will all come to us.

At the close of the service a special gift was given to a special someone. His mom, who is 87 years young as I write this. She is obviously frail, but stands strong next to her son Kosal this day and time, and has done so from the beginning. He hands her a decorated box which she accepts graciously.

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Yes, she is a Jesus believer. I don’t know for how long, but as I looked at her today, I was reminded of grandparents of all of us, wherever they had grown up or come from in their lives, and what they had seen and struggled thru to get to this point, for her son. And His Son.

She has one wish, and one wish only for him. She echoes that she still wants him to be married. Everyone knows that and has known that for a very long time. He just smiles, as always.

Bless her!

As a post note to our visit, Kosal had no idea we were back in Cambodia. So as I walked toward him, the look on his face was priceless. A mix of emotions and respect rank high on that point. It was obvious to me that he didn’t know what to do first, but then after the traditional khmer address, he wrapped his arms around me and with a huge sigh said “Welcome back; I had no idea. This is a wonderful surprise to me. Thank you.” As I stepped back to look at him, he struggled with tears in his eyes that he had to blink back into himself.

And Pastor Kosal, we see a wonderful surprise today as well. A church in the jungle, a growing church, an active church. A church that is obviously sharing Jesus outside the fence. Thank you for your faithful service to our Father.

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A Church in a Province

Trinity Lutheran Church of Battambang has been in existence the longest of all the Lutheran churches in Cambodia. It has also gone thru a few chapters in its life too over the years.

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We are having a lovely meal with Pastor Kosal this evening after the group takes on some shopping in Thailand (we can’t go due to passport issues). We enjoy time with Sevi on the Cambodian side of the road while the locals do their market jaunt across the border.

Then on the way out, we stop at a couple local orchards to sample their harvest. Neither one I’ve had before.

 

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WP_20151219_051WP_20151219_044Not to waste the afternoon the third stop is an orchard as well, but this one comes with a gorgeous stream that we can putter in the water and relax. It reminds us of the Rifle River in MI, not too deep, clear, cool, fresh.

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Dinner at Trinity Lutheran Church was prepared by the local ladies. Of course there are buckets of rice, a soup, and a vegetable stir fry. It’s more apparent to me than before that kids don’t like foods mixed together either. Dalis chooses what her girls will eat from the two dishes, but mainly its rice and a couple of egg yolks, not much else. Thereafter, we are off back to the hotel for the night before the night insects find us.

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KK January 2016

KK January 2016

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