Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to participate in a unique learning opportunity in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Restoration was invited to partner with Christ Church of Austin in facilitating a retreat for leadership of the Anglican Church of Cambodia. We are all there in the picture above: 7 people who currently live in the United States and over a dozen folks who are scattered across the Kingdom of Cambodia, doing ministry in the name of Jesus Christ. I was overwhelmed and humbled by the reality that so much of the leadership of the Anglican Church in Cambodia was with us. We were praying for a movement and longing for an explosion of churches and gospel life across the country.
We came together for 3 nights in a place called Sihanoukville on the Gulf of Thailand (lower left corner of the picture). Our purpose was to learn together about listening to God. Specifically we spent a lot of time learning to pray… by praying.
Our days started early and ended early because it’s hot. Really hot. This was our routine…
At 7:30am we would gather for morning prayer. We shared language leadership. On some days, we would pray the entire Anglican office in Khmer and then English. Sometimes just Khmer. Towards the end we would do one office, switching from Khmer to English as we moved from collect to readings to creed to prayers. What a great experience to work together on a familiar form, but in a different language.
Breakfast was at 8– think fried rice, noodles, and abundant deliciousness.
At 9am we would gather for an hour of Lectio Divina. We had chosen 3 passages that corresponded to our themes of listening to God, listening to temptation, and listening to others. The Scriptures were read in English and Khmer with breaks in between to pray, to journal, to talk with each other about the things God was saying through His word. All of us were renewed in our love for God’s word and the gift of His revelation to us.
Around 10am, I taught out of Mark 1. I had an excellent interpreter and we quickly learned how to work together. It is hard work to capture what someone is saying and to put it in to someone else’s heart language. He was great. Over the course of my 4 talks, I wanted us to think about
- listening to the voice of God that tells us we are loved
- resisting the voice of temptation that tells us we are not enough
- responding to the voice of Jesus who calls us to leave what has given us security and go with Him into hostile places
- saying no to all of the good things that could consume our time and energy for the sake of saying yes to the few things which God has prepared for us to do.
These talks usually took about an hour and then we would have a fun application exercise before lunch.
After lunch, we spend the afternoon praying for each other– small groups of soaking, listening prayer. These were powerful times of intercession.
Dinner was somewhere in town and authentically Khmer and bedtime usually started with an 8… The pace was not fast but the content and context was intense.
We were united across language, culture, and ethnicity and asking for God’s Kingdom to come with light, hope, and freedom. These are things that require our very best and our deepest dependence on the power and grace of God to sustain us and breathe life into our words. I was so grateful to be there.
Here is a good pic of the affection we built and the exhaustion we felt…
I hope you are still praying for our team that is doing VBS this week. God us used our church in a significant way… Thanks be to God!