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


#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


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 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

Friday Fun……for Cambodia!


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!


Why am I going to Cambodia?


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


Engaging Cambodia


When we started coming to Restoration, our first small group leaders were Jesse and Sarah Blaine.About ten of us met weekly in their tiny Arlington apartment – young singles, newly marrieds, married with kids (us), and empty nesters. Jesse’s roguish passion and Sarah’s amiable charm put us at ease and challenged us to take this following Jesus business seriously.

Fast forward four years – Jesse and Sarah are still some of our favorite people, but now they live a little further away, in Phnom Penh. Their shared passion for Christ led them to the neglected orphans of Cambodia. Through World Orphans, they are introducing foster care to the country for the first time and challenging the existing church, small as it is, to care for abandoned kids.

Our church is also deeply committed to the International Justice Mission, and on Easter Sunday we were privileged to hear about IJM’s ongoing work to rescue victims of human trafficking in Cambodia. In keeping with Restoration’s tradition of giving our Holy Week offering to a ministry that cares for the world’s most marginalized peoples, this year we gave  $11,416.31 to IJM Cambodia.

So our small group decided to try something new. This trimester we’re hosting a group to explore how to engage our Restoration mission partners in Cambodia. We’ll work to strengthen our relationship with IJM and the Blaines, learn about the history, culture and contemporary Christian experience in Cambodia, and consider how our church might strategically, creatively and authentically serve Cambodians with the love of Christ.

If you know the Blaines or appreciate IJM, we’d love to have you join us this term. Come for dinner and discussion as we learn and pray together about how to serve these friends in mission. As my wife likes to point out, you can’t find much more Biblically faithful ministry than loving orphans: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…” (James 1.27).

I hope Jesse and Sarah have a little bigger apartment in Cambodia… I wonder whether one outcome of the small group might be to design a family friendly mission trip to bring the love of our church in Arlington to the Blaine’s new home and friends in Phnom Penh. Just like our first small group – with singles, marrieds, marrieds with kids and empty nesters. Just like the family of God.

Hunter Weimer

(Small Group #10; 6:30 pm – Wednesday – Karen McNeilly and Kelly Ingebritson – Anyone welcome – Kids welcome – Engaging Cambodia)

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