#Cambo15: Bev reflects….

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The Cambodia team continues to reflect on their experiences, here are some of  Bev’s thoughts about the trip…

Want to hear more? Come to the team debrief  next Monday, 7.30pm at  the Weimer’s home

I came to Cambodia to serve, but also to see the country where members of my family lived and worked as missionaries for decades. I wanted to get into the minds and hearts of the Khmer people. They have been through so much.

When the US Started bombing Cambodia in the 1969, people swarmed to Phnom Penh for safety. Then in 1975 Pol Pot ordered everyone into the countryside. Under the Khmer Rouge,40 percent of the population died. The professional class was wiped out.

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Tuol Sleng Prison

While visiting Tuol Sleng Prison, I realized that some survivors of the genocide were my age, and would have been teens when the Khmer Rouge was in power. I also realized that my aunt and uncle probably lost friends in the genocide.The emotional scars of that time have left their mark on the next generations in the form of domestic violence and worse.

In 1997, my cousin and his family experienced the coup in Phnom Penh. Tanks rolled down the streets and some buildings burned. I asked a Cambodian friend about the experience and she said that they were afraid the devastation was happening again.

Now for the good news. There are a myriad of projects to rebuild, providing jobs and education for Cambodians. Many of the efforts are aware of the need to heal the psyche of a nation. Cambodia is rapidly changing for the better. I was especially excited to hear that International Justice Mission has worked themselves out of a job with regards to trafficking of children, turning over their work to nationals and other NGO’s. In the future,IJM will be focusing on something else.

In Siem Reap, I talked with young adults working hard as hotel staff who seem to have an eye on the future. I saw traditional music,dance and drama rising from the ashes in the enthusiastic performances of youthful dancers and circus performers.11540849_10153524914716424_7155775006890188070_n

Continue to pray for Church of Christ Our Peace and other Christian organizations in this mostly Buddhist country. As conditions improve in Cambodia, pray that Jesus Christ will reveal Himself as healer for individuals who seek an answer to their deepest needs.

~Bev Westergren

#Cambo15 overview….

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Over the next couple of weeks, different team members are going to tell you stories from Cambodia. David kicked off the series last week with his blog about the retreat.. Here are a few more details which will give you the overview for all our stories! We would also love to invite you to come and hear more in person on Monday 27 July, 7.30pm at the Weimer’s home. 

Team A: June 30- July 5

Team A consisted of Matthew Spainhour, Kelley Spainhour, David Hanke, Liz Gray (team leader) (Restoration) and we were joined by three lovely people from ChristChurch, Austin who are also working on developing a relationship with CCOP and the Blaines, Kim Polk, Sara Morris, Jason Morris (Christ Church)

The Anglican Church of Cambodia (ACC), under the leadership of Rev Tit Hieng invited Restoration (in partnership with Christ Church, Austin) to run a ‘Listening Prayer’ retreat for the Pastors and Leaders of the ACC. The retreat was held at a centre outside Sihanoukville, and 11 pastors attended – including Rev Gregory Whitaker (CCOP), our very own Jesse Blaine and Guy Benton (Youth Pastor).

We were asked to include some teaching, plenty of time for reflection, the inclusion of prayer ‘techniques’ and plenty of prayer and down time. Every day included Biblical teaching, Lectio Divina, various prayer activities, small group prayer, focused individual prayer and some riotous games! Every member of the team had an opportunity to lead and guide the group – which was a fun learning experience for all of us.
The time flew past, and we were weary at the end but overwhelmed by God’s goodness as he spoke powerfully through his word, through the prayer times and through 1-1 conversations. We were all encouraged…. and I hope we all learned a little more about listening to God!

After the retreat we returned to Phnom Penh, for a lovely weekend. On Sunday we attended the Khmer and International services – and David preached at both. In the evening we spent a lovely hour or two praying with the Blaines and Whitakers before David (to our sorrow!) flew home.

Team B/Omega: July 6-14

Team Omega (as they prefer to be known as) consisted of Matthew Spainhour, Kelley Spainhour, Liz Gray (team leader), Jen and Mike Dodson, Bev Westergren, Caitlin Staples, Brent Jones, Matt Lowery, Christine Wilson and Regan Wilson.

The main object of this section of the trip was to run a Vacation Bible School for the kids at CCOP (International). We ran a 4 day VBS, 8.30-11.30am each morning. 35 kids registered plus 10 in the nursery (which we were not responsible for!). There was some fluctuation in daily numbers but overall the team worked extremely hard and the VBS was deemed a HUGE success by parents and kids alike! One parent approached Liz at the end and said, “Thank you so much fo coming, and for loving on our kids, we feel so refreshed!”. What more could we ask?

In addition, in our spare time we visited a number of projects: IJM, Project Khmer Hope, Agape (AIM) as well as prayer walking the red light and political districts, and exploring and drinking coffee at our favorite local coffee shop, Browns! We visited Tuol Sleng Prison and the Killing Fields. Some of us visited the National Museum. Most (10/11) of the team attended the CCOP (International church), and some of worshipped at a Khmer service as well. We also ran the service at a small rural church, Rokokos, on our last Sunday afternoon: liz preached and we also told stories and played games with the kids. It was a lovely time.

At various stages, some of the team had some tummy issues…. and we were reassured by the local missionaries that being ill occasionally is part and parcel of life in Cambodia; whilst we were there 3 of our close missionary friends each had 24hrs+ of being unwell as well. A stark reminder that life living in another culture can be challenging in so many ways.

The trip was very full. Afternoon activities were deemed optional, but most of the team took part in most activities. We were all pretty exhausted by the end – but when time in country is so short it is good to maximize exposure to all that the city holds.

Future:

Rev Hieng is keen for us to work with ACC further in the future. Gregory Whitaker will be coordinating ideas for the future with all of us… we are hoping for a return visit in June/July 2016. Gregory oversees all Anglican mission teams to Cambodia, CCOP (international) and all Anglican missionaries in Cambodia. In the future we would love to support each of  these three groups – working closely with Christ Church, Austin. We also await with anticipation and hope the prospect of Jesse being approved for ordination, and the unfolding of his dream to church plant…. watch this space!

THANK YOU all for praying for us,  for supporting us with money and encouragement and so much love. We could not have done these things without all of you behind us. We are grateful.

~Liz

Cambo A: a learning opportunity for pastors

Cambodia Pastor's Retreat

 

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.

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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…

Khmer Bus trip

 

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!

-David

#Cambo15 – here we come!

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28 days today, the first Cambodia team leaves for Phnom Penh. Four of us (David Hanke, Liz Gray, Matthew and Kelley Spainhour) will be leading a retreat for Khmer Anglican pastors in Sihanoukville, Cambodia … and our dear friends Jesse Blaine and Gregory Whitaker will be there too! The theme of the retreat is ‘Listening to God’ and we will be spending time praying for each pastor as well as teaching, thinking and listening… please pray for our time there that we will be a blessing and encouragement to them.

When we get back to Phnom Penh we will be joined on July 6 by the rest of the team (Mike and Jen Dodson, Brent Jones, Matt Lowery, Caitlin Staples, Bev Westergren, Christine and Regan Wilson) ready to do an intensive 4-day VBS for the kids of church of Christ Our Peace and their friends. This is going to be such fun – it’s based around the theme of ‘the water of life’ – we thought that might be suitable given it’s the monsoon season 🙂
In-between, we will be prayer walking and visiting a number of projects, spending time with the Blaines and learning and listening to the community we are coming to love so dearly.

We would love you to journey with us – by praying (e-mail me if you want to join our prayer team), donating goods for the VBS, perhaps supporting the team financially or sending small gifts with us to the Blaines and their girls. We can squeeze cards, letters and small gifts into our suitcases … so let me know!

Perhaps next year, you will join the team? Be praying … time flies around here and you may want to start planning!

~Liz

Wardens’ Report: April 2015

The Wardens’ Report: a brief summary of highlights from monthly Vestry meetings, designed to demystify our work and provide some information about our growth, finances, priorities and progress towards our strategic plan.

As is our new custom, the Vestry began its monthly meeting in prayer, kneeling in the sanctuary.  We prayed especially for the people of Baltimore:  for peace, order, justice, grace and understanding.  We also raised issues unique to Kathy Kenyon’s ministry as Restoration’s Director of Volunteers and Community Life, with special thanks for the strong turnout at the most recent liturgical volunteer training.

With Baltimore on our minds, we received an encouraging report from the Outreach Steering Team.  Thanks to the generosity of those attending Holy Week services, we were able to give $22,788.63 toward the church building efforts of Church of Christ our Peace.  In addition, Restoration will send $8,000 to the Anglican Relief and Development Fund to aid earthquake relief efforts in Nepal.

The Personnel Team offered a brief report on the hiring processes for a Senior Director of Discipleship and Church Planting, as well as a Youth Ministry Coordinator or two.  Simply put, those processes continue.  David and the hiring teams assisting him are listening faithfully, deliberating thoroughly and acting patiently.  These teams are doing a great service for our church.  We are grateful.

The treasurer’s report was happily uneventful and filled with encouraging data.  Regular offerings through the first seven months of the fiscal year stand at 97% of budget, while regular expenses remain at about 94% of budget.  Our cash position is healthy, with at least three-and-a-half months of operating reserve.  Average Sunday attendance across all services since returning to Quincy Street inched up to 512 – 414 adults and 98 children.  We also received last year’s final financial statements and a good, clean report from our independent auditor.

You can read an archive of past Vestry Meeting minutes on CCB, under the ‘Files’ tab in the ‘Entire Church Group’.

As always, please contact either of us or anyone on the Vestry, if you have questions about the life of our church. We need your thoughtful input and constant prayers.

-Carolyn Weimer and Ramsey Wilson, Wardens

 

Wardens 2015

Why Cambodia?

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They have grown rapidly in the last year since Gregory Whitaker took up the reins as the International congregation Pastor under the leadership of the Rev Tit Heing (the Khmer Senior Pastor) and are entering into a time of demolishing their old – far too small – building and re-building something more appropriate to their growing size, with facilities for the services and programs they look forward to offering their local communities.

SXnsBhT-HKtfj17LEEfLCpQuc60kINAN_gXBzSH_JXg,AGrwvddzgBsnIXU2rucu5Q1RR7vVXWaNkXuF0U2Xfg8Restoration is just emerging from that process, so it’s wonderful to be able to support them financially and with prayer as they worship in various temporary locations, as they work out interim solutions to being without a base and as they continue to reach out to their neighbors and friends with the truth of the gospel. We know how it feels to be homeless!

In addition, this summer, Restoration is sending our second team (pic. at the top is of the glorious Nov 2014 team) to Cambodia who will be serving in two ways. The first half of the team (David Hanke, Liz Gray, Matthew and Kelley Spainhour) will be leading a prayer training for all the Khmer Anglican pastors from June 30 – July 3. David will then head home and the rest of the team (Brent Jones, Caitlin Staples, Regan and Christine Wilson, Mike and Jen Dodson, Bev Westergren, Matthew Lowery) will arrive July 6; for the next week we will be doing a mixture of prayer walking, visiting projects and running a VBS for the International congregation.

So – how can you support the team?

Please consider:

  • praying: would you like regular prayer updates? Send your name and email to Liz to get on the list
  • joining the Cambodia small group Tri 2: as we pray, prepare and learn about Cambodia
  • supporting the team financially: it’s a long way to Cambodia and each team member needs to raise $2,500 for their flight and on ground expenses. Feel free to give via CCB or check (memo:Cambodia 15/name of person).
  • asking questions: do reach out to team members and ask them why they are going, invite them for dinner when they get back and listen to their stories and let your heart expand for the work God is doing among the Khmer and Internationals in Cambodia.

Any questions? Ask Liz!

~Liz Gray

Looking Back… with Gratitude #restocambo 7

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Hunter shares about his experience in Cambodia as we continue our series of reflections. Make sure you don’t miss the invitation at the bottom of his post.

As 2014 ended and I reflect on God’s work in my life across the year, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. I embraced some unique opportunities, and I am awed by the ways God encouraged, supported, and even used me. Between joining the West Asia

team in May and leading the Cambodia team in November, I found myself blessed far beyond my expectations. I better understand Paul’s description of the act of giving as a blessing: “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift” (2 Cor 9.15). As our team winds out our blog posts about our experience in Cambodia, here are some of the things I’m thankful for.

It was a gift…

To see the beautiful land and people of Cambodia and to meet both Cambodian and international workers who give the hours of their days to serve others with creativity and compassion. In a neighborhood once characterized by child sexual exploitation, the laughter and joy of children around a new school and the din of sewing machines worked by mothers and fathers paid a fair wage in a well-ventilated employment center (not a sweatshop) still rings in my ears.

It was a gift…

To walk the streets where Jesse and Sarah Blaine now live and work. Despite dengue fever (rare, but a risk), Jesse rallied to meet us and introduce us to his partners in their work serving orphans. Sarah stepped up to host and care for us, while caring for her daughters and ailing husband. We couldn’t have felt more loved as we sat in their living room and renewed bonds forged two years earlier in their living room in Arlington through a Restoration small group.

It was a gift…

To meet and serve our sister Anglican church, the Church of Christ our Peace in Phnom Penh. We were warmly welcomed, well taken care of, and inspired by their life and ministry. Pastor Gregory introduced us to congregants doing amazing work, and the community of CCOP is a living testimony of his love, character and commitment to Jesus. Although more populated with internationals, their dynamic and vibrant community felt much like Restoration!

It was a gift…

To grow in relationship with teammates at Restoration. Through meeting weekly as a small group to prepare and through shared time in Cambodia at meals, in vans, walking and working together, we all gained a deeper experience of Christian family. I’m amazed and thankful for their giftedness, and that everyone stepped up to serve without complaint. And I still can’t believe that a couple from Phnom Penh moved to Washington last summer, came to Restoration, joined our Cambodia small group and helped us prepare to go. They even came from CCOP and had been in small group with Jesse and Sarah Blaine! God’s ways are astounding.

It was a gift…

To bring my family. Though they don’t fully comprehend it at ages 8, 6 and 4, our children’s eyes were opened to life beyond northern Virginia — to another culture rich with history, but stung by corruption, injustice and poverty. And yet so many of the people we met were generous, kind and compassionate. Every few days our four-year-old daughter keeps asking, “When are we going back to Cambodia?”

It was a gift…

To pray, unsure of who we would meet (other than the Blaines) and how our work would be helpful, yet expectant and confident that God would guide and teach us. Through praying before the trip, God prepared my heart for the ways he would meet us there. Praying for CCOP leaders at the retreat we hosted was so clearly received as a blessing by them that we felt privileged just to pray. And despite linguistic barriers, being prayed for by young, rural Cambodian Christians fired our faith. They don’t take turns, vocalizing prayer all at the same time, and their impassioned prayers felt like thunderous waters pouring down from heaven over our team.

These are a few of the things that stir me to gratitude. In this new year, may you know the riches of God’s blessings as you continue to follow Jesus. To borrow Isaac Watts’ words from 1719 that we’ve recently sung in worship, may our Lord surprise you again and again with “the wonders of his love.”

Happy new year!

Hunter Weimer

To hear more stories from our team, see some pictures and celebrate our friends visiting from Cambodia, Jesse and Sarah Blaine, join us at Restoration tonight, January 12th. We’ll gather 7.30-9.00pm in Fellowship Hall. Child care will be provided. We hope you can make it!

Being Noticed in Cambodia #restocambo 6

Continuing our series of reflections from the Cambodia team, Scott speaks out .. plus an invitation for January 12th!

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At Restoration, we spend a lot of time talking about the importance of having a mentor. Mentors are great. They help you listen to your life, ask good questions that make you think about the thing you haven’t thought of yet, and offer wisdom and encouragement. But at their core, mentors are folks who generously and selflessly take the time to get to know you – to notice who you are and who you are becoming.

In Cambodia, mentors are rare. As Hannah mentioned in her post, war and genocide have plagued Cambodia’s recent history. In the late 1970’s, the Khmer Rouge executed nearly all the educated population in Phnom Penh. Today, the median age in Cambodia is 24. Many of the people who are starting businesses, getting married, and having children don’t have a generation of elders to guide them.

So I was surprised to see such powerful mentorship on display when our group visited an Anglican church plant in Rokakos Province with Gregory, the pastor of the international congregation for Church of Christ our Peace. As Laurel mentioned, a young pastor named Sovannia led us in a worship service with 8 other folks – 7 women and 1 man.

After Sovannia’s sermon, Gregory interrupted the flow of the worship service and asked Sovannia to translate for him. Gregory then turned to the only other man in the group. Sitting hunched in his chair, this quiet unassuming young man in light blue jeans and a grey polo sat up straight as Gregory began speaking to him.

Gregory told him how significant it was that he was here; that it is rare for men in Cambodia to come to church; and he hoped he would continue to trust Jesus and to grow in faith. “God is able to able to save many through one,” Gregory said. “He is able to move mountains through those whose faith is as small as a mustard seed. He will be able to move mountains through you.”

For a moment the room stopped, and everyone’s eyes were on him. He smiled, looked down at the floor, and nodded to Gregory. It was a lot to take in.

I think of this guy often as I continue to pray for my friends in Cambodia. I wonder what he is doing these days. But I don’t wonder if he heard what Gregory told him. In that moment, it was clear that he was noticed and known – in a way that he had never been noticed or known before.

Sidenote: On January 12 from 7:30-9pm, Jesse and Sarah Blaine and the team who went on the trip to Phnom Penh will host a gathering at Restoration in the Fellowship Hall. We are looking forward to hearing from the Blaine’s about their time in Cambodia and sharing some of our experiences from the trip. Childcare will be provided.

 

#restocambo 5

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Kathy continues our series of Cambodia reflections…

Called to Cambodia for reasons unknown, I embarked on the 19 hours of flight time with trepidation.  What to expect? How to manage?  Very quickly I realized the Korean Air Flight attendants were in charge and I was not in control of this situation.  They managed the passengers like a well oiled machine;  seats up, drink of juice, meal, seats back, lights off, sleep, wake up, drink more juice, another meal, lights off and sleep again.  Obediently I succumbed to their calm, firm guidance, trusting in their experience and knowledge.  While my submission to the flight attendants was light hearted and joked about,  the concept of submission and relinquishing control became a theme during the next 7 days.

Over the past few weeks you’ve read many poignant reflections on our experiences in Cambodia.  I feel as close to them as if I had written them myself.  Laurel’s beautiful recollection of prayer in Rokakos, Carolyn’s living in the “space between”, Julie’s personal encouragement during a dark walk.  They all echo a shared experience of witnessing God’s hand in places we had never been before and in ways we may never experience here in Arlington.  We probably all returned home with the same question, now what? how do we apply this here?

I may not have known why I was going to Cambodia or what specific gift I had to offer to the trip.  I certainly was not qualified to lead the Children’s small group nor was I gifted in speaking when I gave my testimony to a group of 40 adults.  None of this came easy, at times it was daunting and it was never comfortable.  I didn’t walk away feeling, wow, I had a lot to offer, but I did walk away feeling unbelievably full.  Full in the knowledge that God walked with me every step of the way.  He protected me, he gave me exactly what I needed and he stretched me.  The little voice that was calling me to go to Cambodia was calling me to Him.

As I write this I find myself immersed in the feelings of being back in Cambodia stretching, hoping and trusting that I will be given just the right words.  What is meant to be a reflection feels like encouragement.  Encouragement to trust that unknown push.  I did not need to travel around the globe to go deeper in my relationship with God but my God is amazingly generous.  He alone knows the joy I feel when I travel, the nourishment I draw in connecting with others, in seeing His work and yes, the struggle I face in giving up control.

Perhaps what Cambodia holds most for me is the lesson and reminder to be present, show up, listen and keep trying to be obedient to what is God is saying.  Submit and relinquish control.

~Kathy Kenyon

Following God to the Provinces #restocambo 4

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Laurel Hanke continues our series of reflections on our Cambodia trip…. read on …..

We had been driving a while on the dusty, pot-holed road when our van stopped near a cinder-block building, painted pale yellow. Slightly larger than a kids’ classroom at Restoration, it was the meeting place for an Anglican church plant in Rokakos Province, about 45 minutes outside of Phnom Penh.  The modest one-room church was empty and swept clean.  Several windows and two open doorways on opposite walls let in the afternoon light.

The young pastor, Sovannia, was so unassuming and humble that earlier, at our meeting place in the city, I hadn’t even noticed he was with us.  Now he had command of the room.  About twenty children sat on the floor, captivated by his words, eyes following his every move.  His bible lesson was punctuated with songs and hand gestures, which the kids joined with gusto.  Their interactions were entirely in Khmer, and the connection and authority Sovannia had with these kids was obvious. As their lesson ended, each child eagerly received a bag of snacks and went running out the door to play in the dusty concrete courtyard that surrounded the church.

There were 10 believing adults in the congregation, all of them the first in their families to follow Jesus.  We sat in a circle, our team quietly witnessing this young pastor shepherd his flock through worship songs, prayers, and a sermon.  The service appeared to be winding down when one-by-one each believer asked for prayer.  Our team surrounded each one, laying-on hands and praying in faith for Jesus to meet each heart with His ministry of healing and comfort.  It was such an honor to be allowed to participate with the Lord as He strengthened their hearts.  The honor increased when the believers encircled us and prayed for God’s work in our lives.

Since returning to Arlington, I have thought often about that prayer time.  It had a different flavor, a stronger potency, than the way I experience prayer here.  It’s almost like there were years of built up gunk clogging my communication with God.  Each time we prayed in Cambodia, it was another dose of Drano, cleaning out the lines.  By the time we got to Sunday, and I prayed for the Christians in Rokakos, I was infused with a certainty of God’s passionate affection for them.  In that moment, I knew He was meeting them, and I was swept into His work on their behalf.   I want to pray like that again.  I want to partner with God in His work.  What does that look like here, in my Arlington life?

~Laurel Hanke

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