“For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything but only God who gives growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” I Corinthians 3:4-9
Forty years ago Mr. Lee Saing heard the gospel message preached over the radio while sitting in his home in a provincial town in northern Cambodia. The Holy Spirit regenerated his soul, allowing him to receive the message and enabled him to exercise faith in the person of Jesus. He didn’t know any other Christians at the time but determined that his family would become followers of Christ. Today, two of his sons are in full time Christian work (with Shalom Mission to Cambodia) and one of his daughters teaches Christian Education at Phnom Penh Bible School. What a great story of God’s grace, right?
Absolutely! Praise God for His faithfulness. Some of you might be tempted to think that I share this story because it relates to a “success” within the context of seeing the church grown here among the Khmer people. I do think that it is encouraging to hear these kinds of stories from time to time but my point is to show how God’s providential work is THE compelling story of missions…not necessarily the results that are generated by a particular missionary or organization. Mr. Lee heard the gospel through the message on the radio but NO man could take credit for his salvation! I tend to equate my success in ministry to God’s blessing. If things go well (ie. people respond to the gospel and become Christians and grow as disciples) then I must be doing the right thing. But it would seem that Scripture paints a very different picture. We see both success and failure all throughout the Bible in terms of how people respond to the Gospel. My job is not to produce spiritual fruit but to be a faithful servant/ambassador/proclaimer/shepherd. God is the sole author, initiator, sanctifier and sustainer in salvation. For me to take credit is…..well, just plain ludicrous! This was Paul’s message to the church at Corinth in I Corinthians 3. Why get caught up following one person’s ministry over another (whether it be Paul or Apollos in vss 1-4)? It is God who causes the growth in all of us (vs 6, 7)! My ‘wage’ will be based on my faithfulness to what God has put before me and we count it a privilege to partner together in God’s work (vss 8-9)!
Action Cambodia does NOT exist to produce results, though we’re thrilled when we see God’s sovereign hand at work! We do PRAY, PLAN, PARTICIPATE AND PRAISE God for the fruit born as a result of the planting and watering done through the Gospel work here in Cambodia. We don’t program for results, though it is certainly tempting at times! Here is an example of what I mean. The last few months I’ve been teaching through baptism and communion with the pastors of SMTC. It took longer than I expected and we actually had to re-teach several sections to make sure there was clarity and to encourage each of the men to practice what they were learning in their respective churches. As far as I know each of the SMTC churches are now faithfully practicing the Lord’s Supper and three weeks ago there was a joint baptismal service where many individuals identified with Christ in the waters of baptism. The temptation is to say, ‘Look at the results! Praise God!’. I am thankful for what seems to be God’s hand at work but am under no delusion that this came about from anything other through God’s work!
Keep praying that God would cause us to be faithful workmen in his harvest! As we move forward we do ask for prayer in the following areas:
- Follow up on those who were baptized….praying specifically that God would cause them to grow mature and strong in their faith
- Kids would finish strong at school and our family would be prepared for home assignment this summer
- Pray for the short team coming from West Hills Community Church this summer!
- Sustenance for all of the SMTC pastors – praying for their physical needs and their spiritual protection
- Ongoing prayer for the entire Action Cambodia Team – track with updated requests at www.actioncambodia.org
- Financial sustenance….blessed by God’s provision through you, praying for additional ‘teammates’ to support the work here!
Have a great week….may God’s hand be clearly seen through everything that you do (Numbers 6:24-26)!
In His Bonds,
I Cor 2:5
PO Box 1178
Phnom Penh, Cambodia