The space between #restocambo 3

Carolyn continues our series of reflections on our time in Cambodia.unnamed

While I was in Cambodia, I thought a lot about living in the “space between”. That’s what I call the gap between what we know and what we experience.

What I mean is this. I know that God is faithful. The Scriptures are full of stories of God’s faithfulness throughout history. And I’ve experienced that faithfulness in several unmistakable ways in my own life. But when I look around, I see a lot of darkness that calls that faithfulness into question. Where was God’s faithfulness in the killing fields of Cambodia? Where is Jesus in the brothels there, among kids forced into prostitution? Or among the brick factory workers, hopelessly burdened with insurmountable debt? Or in the midst of so much dehumanization and desperation?

During our trip, we visited the International Justice Mission office in Phnom Penh. Restoration committed all our church’s 2014 Holy Week offerings to IJM Cambodia, and we wanted to learn more about their work. And just yesterday, I happened to visit the IJM office in Washington, DC, and I participated in their regular 11 am office prayer.

I almost fell out of my chair when someone stood up to tell the story of a call they received about two weeks ago. The call was from a Cambodian government official. All of a sudden there was significant progress on a matter IJM had been waiting on for years.

So here is the thing: during our trip to Cambodia two weeks ago, our team broke into two groups to prayer walk. One team walked the red light district, the other team walked with young ones through the more kid-friendly government corridors. At the time I was disappointed not to be on the more adventurous team, but Hunter and I walked with our kids through wide gardens from the Independence Monument to the Royal Palace. I prayed disjointed and distracted prayers for those we saw and for government leaders (praying with a six and eight year old for an hour involves constant interruption). We prayed for the King and Prime Minister and for the leaders in Parliament. As we passed the Justice Department, we prayed for judges, investigators and police. Ours weren’t the prettiest or most eloquent prayers, but we offered them up anyway.

Yesterday, when I heard the story of the recent progress and realized it coincided with our time in Cambodia, I couldn’t help but smile at the thought that our feeble prayers may have found the ear of God.

Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy…. Psalm 8.2

Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 19.14

The challenge of the space between has more to do with my poor eyesight than the real and transforming presence of the living God.

~ Carolyn Weimer

 

busyness… some advent thoughts

He [God] gives you the gift of time, so you have to be still and wait.”  Anne Voskamp on Advent in The Greatest Gift.


City001
At this month’s Women Unscripted: Busyness, we unpacked a lot about how hard and yet how important it is to realize a balance in our busyness.  The questions that were asked revealed that many of us struggle with this balance.

And during Advent – when we are supposed to be waiting for the coming of our Lord – it seems ridiculously hard in our culture to stay balanced.  There are so many great things to say “yes” to: social engagements, shopping lists, family obligations, end of year work demands.

For me, it is a radical discipline to step away from the contagious frenzy.  And like a good discipline, I find it awkward and uncomfortable.  Here are some of the unusual things I challenge myself with during this season to practice the discipline of waiting.

  • Try to avoid rushing at one point during your day.  Don’t run that yellow light.  Stop for that pedestrian about to cross the street.
  • Resist the temptation to do “one more thing” with the last few free moments you have.  Don’t toss in a load of laundry as you rush out the door.  Or run that last errand that will make you “almost late” to your next appointment, even though it is “right on the way.”
  • Deliberately choose the cashier that has the longest line.  While you are waiting, don’t look at your smartphone.  Just observe and even pray for folks around you as you wait.  If someone offers to have you move to another line simply say, “No, I’m ok waiting.”
  • Show up to a meeting early.  Again, just sit and wait.  Don’t pull out your phone.  Notice how strange it feels to just wait, doing nothing and being “unproductive.”  When others join you, maybe you all will engage in a casual conversation, rather than all being buried in devices until the meeting starts.
  • Sign your credit card purchases with “Merry Christmas.”  You really can! I heard a podcast on this!  Writing this takes longer for me than signing my name and is a constant reminder to me of the reason for the season.

These disciplines will probably only “cost” you 15 minutes a day. And sure, they are mostly symbolic. However, these daily disciplines that I sprinkle across my day keep me focused on Advent when the rest of the world is rushing by.

~Christine Jones

#restocambo part 2

unnamedThe second installment in our series of ‘Cambodia reflections’ 

During my recent trip to Cambodia God worked in my life in ways that were not apparent to me.

We did many activities, one that stuck out to me and made me think was the prayer walk. Walking around Phnom Penh in the red light district, you could feel the evil lurking about. Knowing that this part of town was a place where prostitution, trafficking and abuse was more apparent, I was concerned but curious.

When we started the walk, immediately I saw a man and a woman. As the woman tried to get up, the man continued to hit her so she could not move. After a few whacks, the woman sat down “obediently”. The feeling of anger and sadness overwhelmed me. As I watched this happen, I noticed that my watching eyes turned into glares. It was all I could do not to run up to where they were sitting and yell at him. Tell him how wrong he was. That’s what I wanted to do, but I was there to pray, and let God take the lead.

This visual stayed in my mind and heart during the whole walk. We passed by children, and women standing at the steps of bars on side streets. A caucasian man searching the premise with evil intent. There was nothing I could do, except let God take the lead and trust in him. Trust that he will protect, and that he has a plan for everyone. This may have been the hardest experience of the entire trip, but the best and most significant part at the same time. This experience drew me closer to God, and I truly realized that I need to let him take the lead, and that’s what I want.

~Julie Kenyon

#restocambo part 1

 10347784_10152932792661424_2052994355984274463_n

Over the next couple of weeks the Cambodia team are planning on reflecting on their thoughts/ experiences/insights from their trip.  In the first of the series Hannah Royal gives some background on the Anglican Church of Cambodia….

Cambodia’s modern history has been fraught with genocide and war, leaving a very young population (median age of 24) and a decimated educational system.  Cambodia continues to struggle with unresolved grief and trauma, generational PTSD, corruption, poverty, human trafficking, and family dysfunction.  Less than 3% of the population identifies as protestant Christian.

In light of this history, the Anglican Church of Cambodia (ACC) is a relatively young and growing denomination.  The ACC currently falls under the leadership of the Diocese of Singapore (Provence of West Malaysia) as one of 6 deaneries.  About 20 years ago, the diocese started planting churches in these deaneries and today there are 104 congregations and 10,000 people worshipping in 6 countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam).   The vision is to see these deaneries become “self-propagating, self-governing and self-supporting Anglican Diocese that will faithfully witness for Christ until He returns.”

It was in 1992 that the diocese of Singapore bought a two story villa in Phnom Penh and the following year that they sent their first priest to plant a church.  Today, Church of the Lord Jesus Christ Our Peace (CCOP), led by Rev. Tit Hieng, also acts as the main office of the ACC.  The Khmer congregation has a current average Sunday attendance of around the 60 people.  In addition to leading his own congregation at CCOP, Rev. Tit Hieng travels to the rural areas to evangelize and to support the churches led by lay leaders.  He is the only ordained Anglican Khmer priest in Cambodia.  There is also an international congregation led by American missionary Rev. Gregory Whitaker.  At 150 strong, they have outgrown the original building and are now meeting in a rented space, which they have also outgrown… so they are moving again in January.  Jesse and Sarah Blaine are a part of this vibrant congregation, along with many other missionaries, NGO staff and diplomatic personnel living in Phnom Penh.  In total there are 10 Anglican congregations, worshipping each week in Khmer, English and Chinese.

Due to the growing numbers, aging building (4 floods in the past 3 months), and mission to expand the Anglican church in the region, the ACC is undergoing a building project on the current site of CCOP.  With the hopes of building a larger space for worship, offices and classrooms, they also desire to plant additional churches in Phnom Penh and continue their work of training up clergy and supporting the rural churches in 6 provinces.  In many ways, we at Restoration can identify with this “stage of life”!

The ACC is thinking strategically about the future and has hopes of expanding their youth ministries, university and dorm ministries, as well as vocational ministries.  This includes English language and skills training (computer, industrial and hospitality skills).  We repeatedly heard from church leaders in Cambodia that “the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few.”  One of the biggest needs for the ACC is educating and training clergy. There is great need for resource development, discipleship training, pastoral care training and clergy support.

We are excited to see how God uses the partnership between Restoration and the ACC for the spread of the Gospel in Cambodia.  Please continue to pray for the Anglican Church of Cambodia, the Diocese of Singapore, Rev. Tit Hieng, Rev. Gregory Whitaker, and the Blaine family.

~Hannah Royal

 

So where in the world are Hannah and Liz?

St Andrew's Cathedral (the underground church), Singapore

St Andrew’s Cathedral (the underground church), Singapore

Well, this past week we had the huge privilege of joining 169 other people at the the South East Asia Missions Roundtable, Nov 11-14, 2014 in Singapore.

This occasional roundtable (last one 2008) is an opportunity for the Diocese of Singapore to gather the clergy (local and missionary) and lay people engaged in missions (people from 19 countries represented) in the 6 deaneries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam) and to rejoice in progress made, and pray and strategize for the development of God’s work in the years to come: “God’s work is to plant the seed of the gospel in the culture of the people. Missions defines the church – a church without missions is a club” (ABp Bolly Lapok in the opening statement).

We spent most of our time focused on learning about Cambodia – though we did get very excited about the work in Nepal and Laos in particular! We were struck by the initiative, evangelistic ideas and the deep prayer and longing for people to be reached. There are so many needs – especially for ESOL teachers they have seen significant numbers of people come to know the Lord through being taught English by Christians using Bible stories in a number of countries!

We also had the great pleasure of meeting Archbishop Foley Beach who attended, as well as people from the other two American churches interested in engagement in Cambodia.

As we learned specifically about Cambodia, we were amazed again as we thought that the Anglican church is so young here – a mere 20 years old. And yet there are already numerous small church plants in the rural areas, cared for largely by young, lay leaders. There is enormous potential for seeing these young leaders develop and grow as they care for these flocks.photo 2

And now we are in Phnom Penh! It’s been wonderful having time with the Blaines and dreaming about our future engagement in Cambodia. Church of Christ our Peace has some big ideas about what’s next – and it’s such fun to be here at the planning stage!

So looking forward to the rest of the team arriving tomorrow – and the next few days of learning, praying and experiencing the joy of life in Asia!

We’ll keep you posted ….

Liz and Hannah

Clean Water for Advent

 

Looking for a way to give this Advent? The Anglican Relief and Development Fund (ARDF) is working to provide clean water to rural communities in Burundi and you can get alongside them.

What is the Anglican Relief and Development Fund?

Anglican Church and School, Diocese of Ho, Ghana

Anglican Church and School, Diocese of Ho, Ghana

ARDF partners with the global church to meet the needs of the poor. The local church both proposes and takes responsibility for projects, and we support the church with due diligence and funding the projects. The local church knows the needs in the community and builds relationships in the community while meeting practical needs.

Current Project: Living Water            This Advent, ARDF  is offering us the opportunity to help provide clean water to communities in Burundi in Central Africa. This project provides sanitation structures around existing springs, the only source of clean water in the communities. Could we sponsor one of the forty-two wells in the project? During the Advent Season, we aim to raise $1300, the cost of one site. This is a great opportunity for people at Restoration to partner with the local church in Burundi to meet a practical need as a tangible expression of God’s love.

Those of you who have been on Restoration’s West Virginia trip know that Jeff Sickler, who leads Appalachian Community Care, emphasizes connecting with people over executing a building project. Likewise, ARDF realizes that more important than a development project are relationships within the church and its role in the local community.

Let’s give together this Advent.  Come for dinner on Tuesday, November 18th at 7:30pm  and learn more: 6219 18th Rd N, Arlington, VA 22205. Contact John Westbrook at john.westbrook@gmail.com with questions.

 

Honor as slaves

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 12.56.23 PM

November 9, 2014 – Liz Gray

Matthew 12:46-50 / Psalm 93 / 1 Timothy 5:1-6:2

Listen to the songs here.

Friday Fun……for Cambodia!

PhnomPenhStreet

So what are you doing Friday night?

Yup – that’s right – this Friday – as in two days time … come to  1815 N Quincy St …. come and eat  Lemongrass… and listen to this …. and so much more!

What: Daniel Hudspeth and Ben Hofer in concert
Where: Restoration Anglican Church – 1815 N Quincy St, Arlington, VA
When: Friday, November 7 – show starts at 7pm;
How Much: Tickets are $20 at the door; child care provided; food will be available from 5-7pm
Why: Daniel Hudspeth released an EP. Restoration is sending a team of folks to Cambodia to run a retreat for church leaders and missionaries in the area.
And we get to hang out together as well!

See you there?

Hope so!

Liz

West Asia and Silk Road Prayer Night

Last summer, Restoration sent two teams to West Asia. I didn’t go with either of them; I’ve never even been to West Asia. So your question must be: why are you praying for West Asia and the Silk Road?

Why West Asia and the Silk Road?

Some governments and cultures of West Asia and the Silk Road are discriminatory and can be openly hostile to Christians. Christians in these areas typically walk their faith with little support from family or from a church.  Their faith and resolve are continually tested by the negative environment. Rationally, we should have little hope for the church there. To pray and work for the Church there is truly to have faith in the God of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, the God of the Miraculous and Wonderful.

Why Prayer?

Prayer is an essential part of our relationship with each other and with God. We pray for West Asia because

  • · Prayer is worship. Prayer proclaims that God is King and Christ is Lord over the topic about which we pray. We honor God with our prayer for the world.
  • · Prayer forms us. Prayer prepares and opens our hearts to the Holy Spirit. The act of turning our hearts towards West Asia and the Silk Road invites the Holy Spirit to soften and sensitize us to a place and culture different and far from our own. For many of us, our prayer is preparation for a future trip with Restoration.
  • · Prayer enables our participation. The length of the trips from Restoration are counted in days. We can be involved in West Asia year-round through prayer. In prayer, we recommit our hope for the seeds God sows and our love for both the people we met and those we do not yet know. Perhaps more importantly, we cannot experience the past for West Asia or know its future. Prayer allows us to participate in Christ’s plan, His work, and His Kingdom across space and time.
  • · Prayer impacts those for whom we pray. Simply put, as Christians we believe that prayer makes a difference. We pray for this part of the world because we hope forWest Asia and believe that God listens to our prayers.

As for me, I hope to travel to West Asia on a trip with Restoration next year. I desire to love the land, its people, and God’s missionaries there, starting by praying for them.

I hope that you will join us on November 11 at 7:30 PM. The agenda is short: we plan on reading from scripture and letting the Spirit lead our prayers.

7108 Westmoreland Road, Falls Church, VA

However, if you can’t come, remember, you don’t need an hour or to make your prayer a production. We were made to worship and glorify God; we were made to pray. Spend just a couple of moments turning your heart to West Asia and the Silk Road (or to Cambodiaor the persecuted church), praising God and asking that His Kingdom come. He will listen.

Eric Lessels, contact me ericlessels@gmail.com  for more details!

Why am I going to Cambodia?

unnamed

When Carolyn and I first came to Restoration, we heard the pitch to join a small group. Despite being active in church, we hadn’t ever been in a small group together during our 15 years of marriage. Eager to build community, we landed in Jesse and Sarah Blaine‘s small group. Crammed into their tiny one bedroom apartment, we enjoyed their warmth and hospitality and admired their passion for Christ and desire to serve overseas. We deepened our sense of community at Restoration, and fell in love with the Blaines.

Fast forward five years. Along the way the Blaines settled in Phnom Penh to serve orphans. Another thing I hadn’t done for awhile was participate in an Outreach project. Liz Gray finally sniffed that out, and last spring I found myself headed to serve a church in West Asia. The trip was so much more than I imagined. We led a church retreat for an English-speaking congregation, and our team came together beautifully. Everyone shared in the work and cared for each other — no one complained or hesitated to help when needed. We were enriched by the believers we served, as well — by their courage, perseverance, love and joy. As a bonus, we visited Ephesus, and the lives and stories of the New Testament became vivid and alive for me in entirely new ways.

This past summer, the irrepressible and nearly irresistible Liz Gray invited me to lead a team to serve an English-speaking congregation in Phnom Penh… where the Blaines worship. How could I resist? I’m thrilled that this time, my wife and kids will be joining me to serve the leaders of the Church of Christ Our Peace Anglican. I’m going with another outstanding team of people from Restoration — Scott Buckhout, Liz Gray, Laurel Hanke,  Kathy Kenyon,  Julie Kenyon and Laurie Souryal. In addition to the retreat we’ll host, we’ll also visit a number of Christian service and outreach organizations, including IJM Cambodia, where Restoration gave its Easter Sunday offering. We’ll also prayer walk through Phnom Penh.

The theme of the retreat we’re hosting will be Complete Joy from 1 John 1.4. We’ll touch on some of the themes throughout book, but the striking thing to me is that John says our joy is only made complete in fellowship with the church, and in community with believers across the world. I’m learning that this is one of the reasons we do Outreach at Restoration, and why we’re going on this trip.

I’m so thankful to be part of this team… and part of our church. I can’t wait to see how God will challenge, refine, mould and stretch us through our service in this difficult place, for Cambodia is a difficult place to serve. Only 1-2% of the population is Christian, the country is desperately poor, and Phnom Penh is both a hub and destination for human trafficking. But “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it; the world, and all who live in it”, and we trust that God’s grace goes before us. We are eager to meet our brothers and sisters in Christ, who someday along with us and many others “will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.” And through our fellowship and service, we trust that  God will indeed increase our joy.We’d love to have you pray for us. We’ll be away Monday, Nov 17 to Monday, Nov 24. Some ideas for prayer might be:
  • Sign up for our prayer list to receive emails and updates.
  • Pray for the team’s preparations and work one day each week.
  • Adopt our team for prayer in your small group during our week of service.
To join our prayer list, email me. If you have any questions or want to learn more, feel free to contact me by email, or call  703.356.4879.
With joy in Christ,
Hunter Weimer

 

© Copyright Restoration Anglican Church