LGBT Evangelism Story “Tom” (Cambodia)

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.

The “Ancient Palaces” of Angkor Wat, UNESCO World Heritage Site; Siem Reap, Cambodia

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

តើព្រះ​យេស៊ូ​វគ្រី​ស្ដជាអ្នកណា? Who Is Jesus Christ of Nazareth?

ហើយគ្មានសេចក្ដីសង្គ្រោះដោយ‌សារអ្នកណាទៀតសោះ ដ្បិតនៅក្រោមមេឃ គ្មាននាមឈ្មោះណាទៀតបានប្រទានមកមនុស្សលោក ឲ្យយើងរាល់គ្នាបានសង្គ្រោះនោះឡើយ។
កិច្ចការ 4:12

សរសើរព្រះអម្ចាស់យេស៊ូវគ្រីស្ទ!

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Praise the Lord & Savior Jesus Christ!

ចុចត្រង់នេះដើម្បីរៀនពីរបៀបទៅស្ថានសួគ៌

Click here to learn how to get to heaven.

Ex-Gay Testimony Dramatically Retold

Thanks to #Unshackled for revising (some details changed) & acting out my #ExGay #Testimony as a dramatic story for radio.

Click the following link to listen (30 mins) – https://unshackled.org/program/matthew-karchner-pg/

Praise the Lord!

Moved to support our ministry? Please click here.

Missional Adventure through the Jungle (Cambodia)- Follow-up

“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. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:7-9

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15

Why Praise the Lord?

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord . Praise the Lord!” Psalms 150:6

“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Matthew 28:18

“…the Holy Spirit who dwells within us…” 2 Timothy 1:14

“…the Helper, the Holy Spirit…” John 14:26

“If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” 1 Peter 4:14

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Genesis 1:27

“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.” Psalms 46:1

“You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:11

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…” James 1:17

Respect & Authority

Coming into the church broken has not been easy. But going against the Bible’s warnings can incur judgment and delay our growth. The purpose of this video is to share lessons I have learned the hard way to spare you the pain of making the same mistakes:

“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” 1 Peter 4:19

1) Respect your elders.
Tough… popular culture says no. The Word of God says Yes.

“Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.”
1 Timothy 5:1

2) Submit to authority.

Don’t touch (rebuke) the Lord’s anointed (1 Chronicles 16:22).

Advice to my younger self: Do not sign on to work within a ministry or organization unless you are aligned with the leadership and willing to follow the rules. If you sign on and later realize it was not what you expected, follow the rules as best you can until you are able to move on. Respectfully asking questions is ok.

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
Hebrews 13:17

3) Don’t judge.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”
Matthew 7:1-3

4) Don’t envy. (compare yourself to others)

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Galatians 5:19-21

5) Trust the sovereignty of God.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28

6) The Lord will avenge.

“Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
Romans 12:19

“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Romans 12:19-21

7) Forgive. It’s in your best interest.

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Matthew 6:14-15

The Lord chastises those He loves. If you have erred similarly, apologize, repent (Matthew 5:24- first make it right with the person, then with the Lord) and move on.

“For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.”
Hebrews 12:6

Doctors & Meds

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” – Hosea 4:6

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” – 1 Corinthians 1:19

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12

“Therefore, whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

“How you have fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground… For you have said in your heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God…” – Isaiah 14:12-14

“Be sober, be vigilant; for your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly.” – The Lord Jesus Christ (John 10:10)

“So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” – Revelation 12:9

“…the devil…a murderer from the beginning… there is no truth in him… he is… the father of lies.” – John 8:44

“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.” – 1 Corinthians 2:14

“…the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” – 2 Corinthians 4:4

“…the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” – Ephesians 6:17

“…and if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” – Matthew 15:14

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” – 1 Corinthians 5:17

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…” – 1 John 4:18

“…He who is in you is greater than he who is in this world.” – 1 John 4:4

Stop Beating Up the Broken: Homosexuality & Temptation

Message for the church regarding those who struggle with same-sex attraction and gender identity. Also contains tips for those who struggle and those who would like to reach out.

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

We are all sinners, called to repentance and new life in Christ.

There is a way out. Do not allow temptation to define you.

Are We Fishers of Men? (Matthew 4:19)

“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ They immediately left their nets and followed Him.” Matthew 4:18‭-‬20

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.'” Mark 16:15

“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8

“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

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33