February Ministry Highlights

Due to the sensitive nature of this ministry, some details and photos have been removed from the below update that was sent to our prayer partners.

Prayer Partners:

Thank you for your support!

LGBTQ Evangelism:

A local massage parlor employee prayed to give his life to Christ and made a profession of faith. PRAISE THE LORD!

That being said, it’s a long way out of a gay lifestyle and false identity. Please stand with me in prayer that he bears fruit in keeping with repentance and becomes a soul-winner.

Like most service industry employees in Cambodia, he gets few Sundays off. Please pray that the Lord provides another job / schedule.

We have had two “discipleship breakfasts” so far.

“Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”  Luke 15:10


Neighborhood Children’s Ministry:

Remember that these first few weeks back in school, the kids were trained, equipped with a gospel tract and challenged to share with a friend. Rough and tough when we are all together, they were afraid to share the gospel one-on-one.

So I told them we would do it together. A couple of Sundays ago, we went to a local restaurant where I knew the owner and staff. The kids practiced sharing on them.

Considering that getting most adult believers to share the gospel is like pulling teeth, I figure I should go easy on them. In Christ, they can get there!

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”   2 Timothy 1:7


Rural Mission:

The Lord creatively led a couple of years ago to a group of LGBTQ in a poor farming community about two hours from my town. Ever since, I have been going back periodically to build relationships and share Christ with two of them – a barber and a tailor.

When we hit a stalemate, I sought the Lord. He led to teach their nephews and nieces. Barber’s nephew prayed to give his life to Christ and then seems to have acted as a “sleeper cell” of sorts within his family. Next visit, his dad (barber’s brother-in-law), who has influence with Barber, was willing to read Scripture and hear the gospel. We prayed together. He agreed to go to the nearby church if I joined.

Two Sundays ago, I took our neighborhood kids up there. They encouraged the families to worship and sang in front of the church. Barber, his mom, brother-in-law and nephews joined. Tailor’s nephew also joined.

That day, I shared ex-gay testimony, the simple gospel message and led in the sinner’s prayer. Pastor invited me back to preach. At two affiliated churches, the Lord led to preach the Sower & the Seed parable (very fitting for a farming community), which naturally flowed into the gospel message. Praise the Lord!


Reaching Cambodia’s LGBTQ:

As follow-up to last month’s gospel message, my ex-gay testimony in Khmer language has been posted on Youtube and Facebook. What He has done for me, He wants to do for many. Praise the Lord!

Click here to watch the testimony video.

“And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”  1 Corinthians 6:11


Blessed to be Interviewed by Gary Wilkerson (son of David Wilkerson):

David Wilkerson authored The Cross and the Switchblade and founded Teen Challenge. He previously pastored a church in Philipsburg, PA – high school football rival and neighbor of my hometown, Clearfield. His son Gary, who now heads World Challenge, said he was born in Philipsburg but only lived there for a short time. It’s a small world.

We covered ex-gay testimony, LGBTQ evangelism and Cambodia missions. Teen Challenge also has operations in Cambodia. Their Cambodia team lead reached out after the interview was aired.

What a blessing. Praise the Lord!

Click here to watch the interview (44 mins).

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”  Matthew 16:25

Click here to view recent LGBTQ Evangelism photos.
Click here for ministry videos.



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)!

Praise the Lord Jesus Christ!

And Thank You for your support!

January Ministry Update (as a case-in-point)

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.

Prayer Partners:

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

Click here to view ministry photos.
Click here for ministry videos.

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)!

Praise the Lord Jesus Christ!

And Thank You for your support!

Ministry Update

As much as I have wrestled with trying to paint a Norman Rockwell portrait of this ministry, it just can’t be done. It’s nontraditional, and I would not be doing it unless the Lord had led after 6 years of training.

God made each of us (Genesis 1:11:27). He loves each of us (Luke 12:7). Although some of us look cleaner than others, we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). A prostitute’s sin is no less forgivable than a pastor’s sin (1 John 1:9Acts 10:34).

Please Note: I apologize in advance for using the term “ladyboy”. The term is not considered derogatory in Thailand, is more specific than “transgender” and less labor-intensive than stating “Male to female transgender” repeatedly.

As much as I have wrestled with trying to paint a Norman Rockwell portrait of this ministry, it just can’t be done. It’s nontraditional, and I would not be doing it unless the Lord had led after 6 years of training.

God made each of us (Genesis 1:11:27). He loves each of us (Luke 12:7). Although some of us look cleaner than others, we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). A prostitute’s sin is no less forgivable than a pastor’s sin (1 John 1:9; Acts 10:34).

Please Note: I apologize in advance for using the term “ladyboy”. The term is not considered derogatory in Thailand, is more specific than “transgender” and less labor-intensive than stating “Male to female transgender” repeatedly.

 

It’s difficult to express in words how strong Thai and Cambodian cultures are. In the West, we expect parents to support their children… sometimes into adulthood. In Cambodia and Thailand, your children are your social security. Young people commonly move from the countryside to the city to make money to send back to their families… sometimes taking a “whatever it takes” approach.

Many ladyboys in Thailand are prostitutes. (Same applies in the U.S.) According to one man who moved from the poor Cambodian countryside to Bangkok and now lives as a ladyboy, his decisions to begin taking hormones, have surgery and become a prostitute hinged on the need to make money for his family. Previously he had been dating women and had no attraction to men. It seems there is a noble aspect in his mind to the choices he has made.

A common challenge in sharing the gospel in the West is that people do not want to admit they are sinners. It is refreshing to share the gospel in an environment where sin is so blatant.

‘I take money for #™™*%&. Of course I have sin,’ remarked one.

The Lord uses the Cambodia connection (lived there before moving to Thailand). He has led to 3 Cambodian ladyboys who live in Thailand and feel isolated from their beloved culture. Through even a simple Cambodian greeting or mention of a common food, the Lord can provide comfort and build a bridge.

 

They say that a ladyboy in Thailand makes roughly $30-$90 USD per date. The bars are overflowing every night of the week.

For perspective, a professional in the Cambodian countryside can make roughly $100-200 per month.

When first approaching a ladyboy on the street, I am viewed as a “customer”. This makes for an interesting dynamic.

The sex tourism industry abounds in Pattaya, a Thai beach town. Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. Two recent nights there yielded rich ministry experience. In evangelizing, we focus on those who may typically be overlooked (ex. LGBT community). But in doing so, we do not purpose to overlook others. The gospel is for all and applies to all.

 

Freeze Frame Moment: Young man in corset and heels up the steps at the entrance of a strip bar raises a fist and shouts “Prah Yesu! (God Jesus)”, commencing the 2nd night’s walk throughs.

Although many scoff, the gospel of Jesus Christ is being shared, and people are being called to repentance. Interestingly many have been exposed to the gospel in the past. Sometimes it appears we are united in response to a praying mother or friend.

Bottom line is this ain’t rocket science, and it ain’t Matt. It’s the Lord at work.

PRAISE THE LORD for his undeserved favor for all!

bangkoks-3-redlight-districts-2.jpg

Nana Plaza, Bangkok