Due to the sensitive nature of this ministry, we typically do not post detailed updates in public forums. Below is January’s update with some details and photos removed.
Thank you for your support!
This month, the Lord provided two case-in-point stories that illustrate Castaway’s unique challenges.
Story #1: LGBT Evangelism:
Remember the three men who identify as transgender in the rural salon? The youngest used to lead worship but says he stopped attending church because he got busy. There may be more to the story.
At Christmas, he asked for a Bible. We walked through passages together. He has been active in our Facebook Khmer Bible group, reacting to Scripture almost daily. The oldest of this trio greatly influences the other two. On the way there three days ago, I prayed that he would be singled out.
The Lord answered prayer – singled out and not busy – very unusual. We went through the gospel and read Scripture out loud again.
My primary aim was to nudge him back into worship. I said, ‘If I truly believe in Jesus, I will join church every Sunday.’ He nodded. I asked if there is a church nearby and asked how to get there. He pointed in the direction of one about a mile away. I said, ‘If I made a decision to follow Jesus and did not follow, I can ask for forgiveness and start over.’ I asked him if he wanted to make a decision to start following Jesus. He said, ‘Yes.’ He followed me in a prayer of re-dedication.
Then came a sad reality. While asking directions to the church at a corner store, the pastor pulled up. I followed him there.
Even after sharing my testimony, he seemed to welcome me with open arms. In the U.S., not all do. But to him, I represent the richest nation on earth. He pointed out needs the church had, his lack of help and pictures of Americans who have donated and served.
I told him my concern is for helping the LGBTQ follow Christ. When asked if he knew the salon worker, he said he did. I asked him to go with me (less than a mile away) to encourage him to come to church. Pastor remembered how busy he is and couldn’t spare five minutes.
This is not a Cambodia-specific problem. With no political correctness movement to hide behind and probably with good reason in some cases, pastors here openly bully the LGBTQ. Called to stand in the gap, I am praying for wisdom. Please pray for a solution around the salon worker and the global issue this situation puts on display.
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Galatians 6:7-8
Story #2: Evangelistic Mission to a Remote Province:
This was my 3rd trip to this province (556 miles roundtrip, according to GPS). 1st trip, roughly 4 years ago, I met a young boy with his dad in a poor fishing village (houses suspended above the ocean on stilts). 2nd trip about 2 years ago, I went to their house only to find that the dad had died of alcohol-related ailments. I cried, while his widow and son sat there dry-eyed as if to say, ‘You only met him once.’ I could have been that guy… but God. The Lord gave a heart for the boy.
Through a soccer ball purchase, the Lord led to a seller who identifies as gay. 1st trip, I also met the village’s barber who also identifies as gay. Both responded to the gospel much better the 3rd visit than the 1st or 2nd encounter with a total stranger sharing an outlandish story about a foreign God. It’s all about building trust. I prayed with both. Praise the Lord.
The boy’s name is ‘Big’. His younger brother is named ‘Small’. With exposure to the gospel but no church in the area, the mother figured she’d just go to the local pagoda and worship whatever gods. We walked through the gospel (2x with the kids), clarified Exodus 20:3-6 and prayed the sinner’s prayer for all interested in giving their lives to Christ. Praise the Lord!
Leaving Big’s house, a man’s voice shouted at me from an apparent woman’s body – a “ladyboy”. Sex workers tend to relate to my humiliating testimony and return the favor with refreshing honesty. He asked many questions. We talked for about an hour, and he asked me to return later.
We ate and talked for a long time. He ended by saying he is young and not yet ready to give his life to Christ. I warned that he could die tomorrow. Without Christ, he would spend eternity in hell. He said, ‘Some day, I will probably call you and say, ‘I’m ready.”
Will Big’s family realistically succeed in following Christ without attending church? Probably not. Asking around, I located what appears to be the only church within reach.
The gate was ajar. I shouted inside to no avail. Hearing noise, I walked near the sanctuary (open air) to a side room. A man came out, encouraged the dog to attack, grabbed a Judo stick and came after me shouting. Backing up, I yelled, ‘Jesus! (making a cross with my fingers, pointing up) I am a missionary! Jesus! Jesus!’ He continued at me, flanking me through the sanctuary with his Judo stick. My heart sank. Is this where we are as a church? What???!!!
Bear in mind that I was there to find a place of worship for a fatherless child. When I turned around and started recording the pastor, he calmed down a bit. I walked out.
“…as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40
Neighborhood Children’s Ministry:
One of our kids has been “seeing ghosts”. Demonic encounters are common here. Satan terrorizes to steal worship from the Lord and drive those of weak faith back to Satan worship (Buddhism’s teaching that if evil spirits are not appeased through sacrifice and worship, they will curse – e.g. illness, “bad luck”). Click here for last Sunday’s spiritual warfare message.
These first few weeks back in school, they have been trained, equipped with a gospel tract and challenged to share with a friend.
“…rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20
Reaching Cambodia with the Gospel:
The gospel message in Khmer language has been posted on Youtube and Facebook for a few weeks. Promoted to a broader Cambodian audience than would normally follow our ministry, it has been viewed over 450 times. Some have reached out with Bible questions. Praise the Lord!
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3
Rick & Carole, Parents of a Gay Prodigal:
Reflecting on their handling of my “coming out”, Dad advised regarding, “How to Fight a War Like This”. Mom provided insight from the perspective of a loving mother forced to choose between her son and God’s inerrant Word. Click here to listen (35 mins)
“Abraham… took the knife… the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven… Lay not thine hand upon the lad… for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” Genesis 22:10-12
Ways to Partner: 1. Pray for: – Conviction, eyes to see and ears to hear for the LGBT. – That seeds would bear fruit, that the Lord would raise up Cambodian evangelists. – Revival for the U.S. church – that we would stand for difficult truth in these days no matter what the cost. – Pray for our marriage and the promised son. – Financial support to keep me in the field doing what I am called to do. 2. Click to Donate via PayPal (tax deductible)!
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” 2 Timothy 3:16
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:20-21
“And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Genesis 2:18
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” Ephesians 5:22-33
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:3-5
“The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” Matthew 19:3-9
Parents of a Gay Prodigal: How Rick & Carole Karchner (Dad & Mom) Handled my “Coming out”.
Click below to listen to the podcast (35 mins):
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” 1 Peter 5:8
“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Revelation 12:9-11
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” 2 Tim 4:3-5
“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
“But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
A woman who identifies as a man, “Tom” is a 60-year old former soldier. “Khmer Rouge?” “Awt-tay” (No), she assured. Living with her extended family who addresses her as “Pa” at an entrance to Angkor Wat, she climbs trees to gather unusual forest fruit to sell in front of the house (common in rural Cambodia).
Just a couple of miles from home, the heavily touristed “ancient palaces” of Angkor Wat were built by King Suryavarman II in the 12th century when our region was the capital of the Angkor Empire. The pride and heritage of Cambodia, the temple complex is one of the few parts of the country where jungle and trees have not yet been cut to make way for farming.
Cambodians visit for free. Foreigners pay a hefty $37 fee. After 5:30pm, all enter for free. A few months ago, Rebekah suggested biking there with neighborhood kids. Similar enough to a Cambodian look, she passed the guard station without question. When the guards stopped me, I took a seat at the nearest house with a fruit stand out front to wait until 5:30. That’s where I met “Tom”. Toward the end of a getting-to-know-you conversation, I shared my ex-gay testimony.
When I returned to follow up, she said she had recently received Covid jab #1 (of 2) and had been suffering with symptoms, including agitation of a pre-existing heart condition. Later she shared that she falls out of a tree in the line of work roughly once per year. The Lord led to get her some medications and pray with her. That seemed to pave the way for the next visit. Our lives but a vapor, any of us could be taken at any moment. It was a good time to talk about the Lord.
Cambodian culture calls for extended conversations. Lasting around two hours, this was one of them. Note that this is a relatively new, budding relationship. My Cambodian witnessing partner was key in bridging the cultural divide. The two immediately began small-talking. The family shared fruit from the forest with us. Typically that means we have a conversation about which fruit is sweet and which is sour and who likes sweet and who doesn’t like sour.
We bought some pineapple from them and bonded. Cambodian women softly say “Jaa” for “Yes”, while men bark “Baht”. Tom says “Baht” and speaks of a “propun” she had in the past (word used for “wife” but likely not legally married). In favor of first building a firm relationship upon which to share a gospel that is alien to her, I overlooked such references. I pulled down my mask a bit to show a smile, crucial to social interaction in Southeast Asia. Roughly 30 minutes into the conversation, I noticed that her body language (legs crossed, ankle to knee) matched mine. This is very unusual posture within the culture. It seemed like a good time to begin with our questions.
In seminary, I have studied Buddhism and verified the claims of academia with Cambodians. Understanding what counterfeit paths Satan has ingrained in people is vital to effectively witnessing within a given cultural context. The root problem for Buddhism is suffering. The meaning of life is to end suffering. Buddhism teaches that suffering is rooted in one’s attachments and desires, which must be broken, in order to break the unsatisfactory cycle of reincarnation and enter nirvana.
An Apologetics class requires several field assignments. The Lord has used them to drive evangelism. We asked, ‘If there is a God who is good and loves us, why is there so much evil in the world?’ She said it is because people covet and gave examples regarding motorbikes and cars. This is in keeping with Buddhist teaching that holds covetousness as the highest wrong and source of suffering. We asked, ‘Do you like freedom? Do you think it is good?’ Yes, she agreed that freedom is good. We asked, ‘So that genuine freedom could be obtained, don’t you think we must have the option to do right and wrong, to be good or evil?’ She agreed.
She said God revealed Himself to her in a dream. She said people might say it was a ghost, but she knew it was God. Tom went to her bedroom and returned with the tattered cover of a children’s Bible storybook illustrating baby Moses. She said someone borrowed the contents and spoke highly of it – ‘true, good’ stories.
She said she follows all religions. We read Exodus 20:3-6 where the Lord commands us not to worship idols, graven images or any other gods. She did not rebuttal. Using her watch as an example, I asked, ‘If one person says that is a watch and another says it’s a shirt and another says it’s pants, can they all be right?’ She agreed and said that she believes in “Preah” (God). I reiterated that Jesus is the one and only God. She agreed. Then I shared the gospel message. She seemed to agree, but it is common here to verbally agree in order to be polite and avoid argument.
Looking at the tattered shell of that children’s Bible storybook, I asked if she wants a Bible. “Baht,” she replied. Then I asked if she would join us for church. She said she needs to be home when customers come. Her large family is more than capable of handling the few customers that stop by during this slow season. But her answer to this question was key. It exposed fear. Taking such a bold step away from Buddhism would be viewed as rejection of family, dishonoring ancestors and culture. I asked if we could pray with her. We did. The following morning, I returned with a Bible.
The road to Tom’s house was closed for a while for the Delta Variant but then re-opened. When I stopped by to visit before our most recent lockdown, she was feeding chickens out back. She pulled up a chair for me, and we talked for a while. She said she reads some of the Bible ‘when she remembers’. She asked for clarification on whether or not Jesus likes homosexuality. I told her that Jesus loves everyone but that He created male and female, not a “third sex” (common term for LGBT here), that two men together or two women together is sin. She quickly cut me off and changed topics.
Just like in the U.S., younger folks tend to be much more open to the gospel. At 60 years old, it would be quite a miracle if she were to come to Christ. Praise the Lord for opportunities to share the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ! Continuing to pray for Tom…
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17