Year-End 2018 Ministry Update

Prayer Partners:

Thank you for your faithful support. 2018 was an interesting year.

As much as we have tried to focus primarily on evangelizing LGBT+ adults, the Lord seems to redirect us to children’s ministries. Although baffling at first, we now view children’s ministries as early stage prevention.

The Lord is the driver. Summarizing what we see in the rear view mirror and telling you what we think we see ahead, this update is written from a passenger’s perspective.

Rebekah and I are back in Cambodia, where I was originally called. Praise the Lord.

We were saddened by the loss of Rebekah’s mother but rejoice in her legacy. She stood for Christ against fierce opposition and raised three children in the Lord.

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If terms of time investment, teaching was 2018’s primary ministry focus. A number of students prayed to receive Christ. Born into deeply rooted Buddhist homes, they have uphill battles ahead of them. Children’s Bible storybooks were given to those who showed genuine interest in going forward to serve the Lord. Please pray that no weapon formed against these kids would prosper, that they would fight to follow and grow up to be bold witnesses.

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’” – Matthew 19:14

Sometimes we feel like we have not had time to do much intentional in-person witnessing to those who struggle with same-sex attraction and gender identity. About that time, we go to the market and end up sharing with a someone who identifies as transgender or go to get a haircut and end up sharing Christ with a same-sex couple. The Lord leads.

During teaching breaks, we continued to explore our region and witnessed along the way.

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.’” – Mark 16:15

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Encountered Yamu on the street, a homeless man with fresh head wounds from an accident. Took him to the hospital. Met basic needs. Shared the gospel and connected him with the local church. Pray for Yamu.

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Sharing Christ with young people in a restaurant in Kandal Province.

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Shared Christ with young men while on a missional adventure in Preah Vihear Province. Have you shared the gospel with someone this week?

“For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel.” – 1 Corinthians 9:16

A doctoral candidate at a Christian university in the U.S. included our testimony as part of her research for a thesis advocating repentance and following Christ as a healthy alternative to a homosexual lifestyle. We are thankful to be counted as soldiers in this war. Are you?

Online we continue to post Scripture, typically daily in English and weekly in several other languages. Men who struggle with same-sex attraction continue to reach out for encouragement toward following Christ.

Though we were not able to get home to the U.S. or Philippines for Christmas, we returned to my former home in Kandal Province. We sang, “God, Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen” as a family at Mercy Baptist Church.

On your behalf, we took Christmas gifts to the kids that I used to teach on the porch. Rebekah picked out ‘sport shirt and shorts’ sets and wrapped each with a tract inside. Some were given Bible storybooks. They were thrilled. Thank you for your support!

Quick to scurry off, the kids were encouraged to hunker down to pray and thank Jesus. Anticipating that none of them would be there when I looked up, I was overjoyed to see them all knelt down. It was another unforgettable moment in Christ.

The Lord delivered me from a life of guttural sin. Like the commission of the demon possessed man, my primary ministry goal has been to witness for Him wherever I go.

“(Jesus)…said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.” – Mark 5:19-20

Nothing is more important than sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Across Asia, we were blessed with opportunities to share in churches. I share, and then typically my wife and I sing. Upon request, we have offered guidance to church leaders in evangelizing the LGBT+. We strive to lead by example in sharing the gospel- including the requirement for repentance and warning of coming judgment.

“For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” – Acts 20:27

“But my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” – Hebrews 10:38-39

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An evening of witnessing to transgender prostitutes in Kathmandu with Pastor Gyan

At our home base in Siem Reap, we have been blessed with opportunities to serve under Independent Baptist Church of Siem Reap (a largely Filipino church that preaches in English and also has a Cambodian service) and Siem Reap Ministry (a primarily Cambodian church). We admire Pastor Joel Madlangawa at IBCSR for his sound doctrine and courage; and Pastor Tieng Tan at SRM for his humility and perseverance in sharing the gospel.

At the end of nearly a year at Westgate International School in Siem Reap, I chose to resign after being reprimanded for Christian teaching and giving children’s Bible storybooks (which were confiscated from many of the children).

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” – Matthew 6:24

The Lord provides. We have looked into several options, such as running a guesthouse with space for teaching and an outreach in the countryside. Please pray toward this.

A missionary on our first short term mission to Cambodia in 2010 shared, ‘English is the best way to get the gospel through. Everybody wants to learn English.’ Recently we began teaching about Jesus and English in our neighborhood.

In looking toward a more established ministry center, we have begun talks with local pastors, missionaries and folks who have embarked down similar paths. Most began with a small school or education center which culminated in a church plant.

Please continue to pray for us as we trust the Lord for the son that He promised eight years ago.

Praise the Lord for all He has done and continues to do as we fight to follow down this narrow, difficult path that leads to eternal life! May the Lord bless you for your support!

Contend for the faith!

Victory and Peace in Christ,

Matthew & Rebekah Karchner
castawayministries.org

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”- Philippians 4:13

Apart from Him, I can do nothing. (John 15:5)

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2017 Report & 2018 Lord Willing Plans

Hello, Missions Partners:

Thank you for your prayer and financial support. We are especially thankful for the Lord’s leading.

2017 Highlights

  • Evangelism Results: In response to sharing the gospel in Myanmar and Cambodia churches, a number of people prayed to receive Christ. Through street evangelism, 7 people prayed to repent and give their lives to Christ. Praise the Lord!
  • Evangelism Where?: In person, the gospel was shared in 7 countries- U.S., Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore. Using online avenues, the gospel has been shared in many more.
  • Evangelism in Person- How Many?: Goal is to share Christ with at least one individual each day on average. Recently keeping statistics, I am confident that the 365-person minimum has far been exceeded. Praise the Lord!
  • Online Ministry- What Are You Doing?: Daily we have been posting Scripture with a photo (usually corresponds in some way to the text). When time permits, we have posted the same Scripture in up to 10 languages matching the people we have befriended through local evangelism and regional missions. Recently, as the Lord led, we began sending the same passage via private message to 20+. Partnering with other ministries and on our own site, we have posted brief teachings, ex-gay tips and testimonies (ex. video testimony in 5 languages). These have yielded opportunities. Folks from around the world have reached out for encouragement. As we share testimonies, blessings go both ways. Praise the Lord.
  • Stop Beating Up the Broken Campaign: These are testimony-sharing church visits designed to build compassion for the broken through awareness of the struggle. Where there is opportunity, Rebekah and I also typically sing.

 

Examples of how the Lord works when least expected: Street evangelism and testimony sharing at churches can coordinated in tandem. Working within very hospitable cultures with less emphasis on advanced planning, we find that sometimes it is best to prayerfully show up on a Sunday morning. One weekend, we attended Rebekah’s friend’s wedding, researched local churches for where to go the next morning. After Sunday service, we were introduced to a young lady who struggles with same-sex attraction and gender identity and a church that loves her but did not know how to approach it.

Over Christmas, Aunt Bobbie was here. After setting up a tent in a campground, we left and came back to find that someone had pitched tents remarkably close to ours… making conversation inevitable. We made friends and shared testimony. Moments before departure the next morning, another young lady who struggled with gender identity joined their group. Quietly during goodbyes, there was an opportunity to share with her.

  • Board Meeting: While home in July, we held our annual board meeting. Pastor Osterhout of First Baptist in Curwensville, Camerly Abajian and Joshua Maines were added to our board in 2017.

Christmas 2017

  • Christmas Choir: We were blessed to sing with Bangjak Baptist Christmas choir for the Christmas service and at two local malls as outreach.
  • Christmas Album: We recorded a Christmas album. Thank you to all who purchased it.
  • Christmas Giving: Focused on street ministry and refugees:

o 70+ individuals- primarily people we have met through street evangelism who struggle with same-sex attraction and/or gender identity.

o 3 Christian refugee families who have suffered persecution for their faith. These folks are an inspiration.

Lord Willing 2018 Plans:

  • Establish a ministry center readily accessible from red light districts where we can have Bible studies.
  • Lead the willing through the same steps through which the Lord led me in order to break old-life habits and establish new identity in Christ.
  • Take bigger strides in the “Stop Beating Up the Broken” Campaign. Share testimony in more churches, focusing on areas known to have an LGBT community.
  • Streamline online processes- daily Scripture posting, blog writing, discussion items within our support group.

The Lord is faithful. Praise God for all that He has done and for all that He continues to do as we trust Him.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Please Pray for:

  • Conviction for the global LGBT+ community.
  • Awakening in Southeast Asia.
  • The Lord’s grace and mercy for us.
  • The Lord’s provision.

Questions for You:

  • As we embark on a fresh start, we welcome your feedback. What do you suggest that we do differently in 2018?
  • Do you know of a church that may consider supporting our mission? If so, please reply with contact info so that we can reach out while planning church visits.
  • We are looking for volunteers to help with online ministry (ex. video editing, Scripture posts, providing feedback toward improving our facebook page and web site). If you are interested, please reply with availability.

Please click here to financially support Castaway Ministries.

Video: Myanmar Mission Overview

“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.'”   Mark 16:15

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”   Psalm 34:18

Click here to read the written overview of the Myanmar Mission.

Myanmar Mission Overview

Myanmar borders Thailand to the west. Isolated from the world until recently, its rich culture remains undiluted. I was honored to speak at Innlay (Lake) Baptist Church on a raised platform above monsoon season flood waters- first encouraged, then shared testimony, a call to compassion for those who struggle with same sex attraction and gender identity, shared the gospel with a call to receive Christ (to repent and become a born again believer in Jesus). Many prayed to give their lives to Christ. Praise the Lord. 🙏

A dog rested at the foot of the platform. Pastor said the dog is an honorary church member and howls along when certain hymns are sung. That is what I call rich culture!

Armed with the Bible in Burmese and Google Translate, my wife and I street witnessed. Occasionally we encountered someone who could speak English. Although there was resistance to the gospel (much more than other countries in the region), some received with gladness. We connected with a number of people via social media for follow-up. Praise the Lord.

Side note:  In photos to follow on Castaway Ministries’ Facebook page, note that I am wearing a “lungyi” and “thanaka” (see below links). Interestingly, in past gay life, I don’t recall wearing a skirt or helping carry a purse… not until I married a woman. Haha!

Finally, God used this mission to grow me and my wife closer as a missionary couple. Thank the Lord for Rebekah.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myanmar
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longyi
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanaka

Click here to watch the Video: Myanmar Mission Overview.

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Witnessing in Southern Thailand & Salvation Story

“And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” – Acts 17:32

Immediate responses to the gospel could be classified as: (1) Yes, (2) No and (3) Maybe Later.

Thailand’s capitol Bangkok and beach towns Pattaya and Phuket are high priorities on the evangelism hit list because they are popular hubs for LGBT+ culture and prostitution.

We live and witness in Bangkok. Seeds were scattered in Pattaya (closer to Bangkok) earlier this year. This week, I hit Phuket for the first time.

Conversations typically begin with small talk, then testimony, then often the gospel. Additional armament includes tracts in Thai and the Bible in virtually any language via Bible app.

We try to connect with as many on Facebook as possible and post Scripture regularly so that they will be exposed to the Bible and lines of communication remain open.

Facts:
Majority of folks engaged: Thai Buddhists
Most common response to the gospel: ‘You (Westerners/Americans) believe in Jesus. Thai people believe in Buddha.’
Example seemingly appointed engagement:
Transgender male-to-female- met outside her workplace. In response to testimony, she said, “So you are a real man now, not just a gay.” Pouring down rain, she asked me to come back to discuss- shared the gospel and tract, read the Bible, discussed previous exposure to Christianity and clarification of salvation requirements and Christian living. Asked me to send her things on Facebook (ex. Scripture) and basically ended with- ‘I will hear you again on this matter.’

In general, the lay of the land is a city with:
1) An area(s) known for transgender male-to-female (“ladyboys”)- strip bars, massage parlors and old fashioned street prostitution.
2) An area known for gay bars- resembles what is common in US cities.
3) A pedestrian-only street(s) that is a mixed bag- hosts party/sex tourists from around the world.

All 3 of the above areas and everywhere in between contain ladyboys soliciting outside massage parlors. The Lord’s timing is perfect. It is rainy season. Business is down, and folks have a few moments to spare.

Prostitutes speak the language of sex, so God works from there. Some say my eyes look kind and they feel good talking to me. You and I know that is the Lord.

Sharing Christ with jeering prostitutes can seem pointless. Nonetheless, this is what we are called to do- if for no other reason than to give each human being, created in God’s image, an opportunity to repent and get through the gates. The Lord has gone so far as to resurrect men and send them back into the pit on a rescue mission. Having been warned of coming judgment, all will be without excuse.

“Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.'” – Jonah 3:1-2

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – Matthew 3:2

Eyes welling up with tears as we shake the dust off our feet, we reflect on those who have rejected Christ, peer down at our watches wondering how much longer we have… and utter, “Even so, Come, Lord Jesus.”

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Back in Bangkok Sunday afternoon, the Lord led to join a medical clinic. Specified assignment was to “play with the kids”. That was part of it and was certainly a blessing, but I knew better- that the Lord was doing something else. Our assignment is always to lead people to Jesus. So we scouted the area and found that it was also a ministry for juvenile (and adult) offenders. In the common area was a 14-year old playing guitar with his friend. The third seat in the small circle was empty. I sat down. After the ‘where are you from’ small talk, we got into business. He said that when he got locked up, he asked Jesus to help him and started to believe with his head but that he had never prayed to repent and give his life to Jesus. So he did! Please pray for “G”.

After many “No” responses, the Lord rewarded with a “Yes”!

THIS IS THE WHY- why the believer in Christ remains on the earth after coming to know Jesus- to fulfill the Great Commission.

Join the fight. Pray for training wheels. It’s scary at first, but the Lord gives the passion and leads. His heart is for evangelism. Be bold. Get close to the heart of Jesus.

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.‘” – Jesus (Mark 16:15)

As an old friend of mine used to say, “We serve an awesome God, brother.”
Praise the Lord!

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Key Initiative: Serve the Church

FB_IMG_1497842747234-1Friends:

Thank you for your prayer support.

Considering the sensitive nature of this ministry, providing a public blog update is a challenge to say the least. We apologize for any lack of clarity. Please feel free to contact us with questions.

Castaway Ministries purpose is:  “To share the gospel of Jesus Christ by word and deed in the U.S. and abroad. To teach.”
We consider our primary costumers (those we are called to serve) to be:

  • Those who struggle with same sex attraction and gender identity
  • Families & friends of those who struggle
  • Churches who want to reach out

A few weeks ago, my wife and I attended her friend’s wedding outside of town. There on a Sunday, we prayerfully researched local churches. During food & fellowship after the service, we encountered a very sensitive SSA situation. The Lord opened the door to help.

These and similar situations have reiterated that we need to actively pursue speaking engagements at churches.

We do this primarily through testimony and song. In short, the message is:  “Stop beating up the broken.”
We aim to:

  • Be the Voice of the Broken- to stand up for the young man or woman in the pew who feels alone.
  • Build compassion through awareness for the reality of these struggles.
  • Encourage churches to accept the broken and provide a compassionate safe place for them to come to know Christ and grow in Him.

We plan to generate a growing list of churches that preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and are willing to accept the broken.

We piloted with two churches. The Lord led to a church with whom I had a previous relationship dating back to 2011. Pastor agreed to add us for the Sunday service. I shared testimony and a call to compassion: ‘(testimony)…Praise the Lord… Maybe people will accept me now that I have a wife. But there are many others out there who have repented and given their lives to Jesus but continue to struggle. Maybe it’s not God’s plan for everyone to have a wife. I don’t know what it’s like to be you until I have been you. You don’t know what it’s like to be me until you’ve been me…. Please have compassion…’ My wife and I then sang “Amazing Grace”.

Now let’s step back for a moment and imagine this ministry. A man walks into a church and claims that God changed him from a sinful gay lifestyle to a monogamous heterosexual lifestyle. My wife standing there in the flesh gives Doubting Thomas something he can see and touch. Without my wife next to me, this type of ministry is only marginally effective. Praise the Lord for my wife.

“A man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” – Proverbs 18:22

Would you like for us to visit your church or ministry? Please click here to request.

The Lord is driving to do more. We need your financial support. Click here to Donate to Castaway Ministries.