Friday, October 28, 2005


WAITING -Second only to suffering, waiting may be the greatest teacher in godliness, maturity and genuine spirituality most of us ever encounter. Waiting is not a passive exercise, biding time while we engage in some sort of diversion. Waiting is not just what we have to do until we get what we hope for. It is part of the process of becoming what we hope for. It is a faith journey. Humility and hope are the essentials of waiting. But it is humility that makes hope possible. Until we are clear that it is God, not us, who is the Master and we, not God, who are the servant, we will feel our rights have been violated whenever we are forced to wait. We will resent our waiting and find every rationalization to take matters into our own hands. In other words, we can't hope in God until we have ceased to hope in ourselves." ( A quote from Ben Patterson book Waiting: Finding Hope When God Seems Silence”)

A recent discussion with a friend brought this quote back to my mind. How many of us actually enjoy waiting? In a society where everything is instant – instant food, instant coffee, waiting seems so contrary to our human nature. It goes against our natural inclinations. After all, how many times have you been stuck in a traffic jam and enjoyed it. I know I don’t. That infamous fruit of the spirit ‘patience’ goes right out the window during times like that. But alas, God calls us to wait upon Him, to not run ahead but so often we are tempted to ‘take control’ of situations. Why is that? Is it because we feel out of control? Is it because we detest uncertainty and we must know and know NOW? Is it because we feel somehow waiting serves no purpose? Ben Patterson makes an interesting point, that waiting is not something that is passive but rather it is part of the process of becoming what we hope for. It is a faith journey. Or as Hudson Taylor the founder of OMF said, ‘waiting time is not wasted time.’ Do we truly believe this? I think we struggle with waiting because in our limited mindset we see it as ‘wasted time, we cannot see the ‘fruit’ that is being born and developed within us. We are people who need to see the visible before we believe or at least a glimpse of it. Yet in the process of waiting, God is doing things to our character, whether it be transforming our attitudes, or mindset or beliefs, clarifying the confusion, He is refining us and strengthening those broken areas within us. He is orchestrating events as we wait; He the Master weaver, is creating a new pattern within us; polishing the rough diamond within us so that at the right time, we will shine the way He created us to be. Truly as we wait, we are becoming more of who He intended us to be. It is a faith journey because when we cannot see the visible fruit, we are apt to give up and toss the towel in, but if we believe that every good and perfect gift comes from Him, if we keep persevering and running the race that He has set before us, then waiting becomes a gift to our souls. It enlarges our spirits such that we are truly being transformed more in His likeness.

This all sounds good but how does one live this out in a practical way. How does one wait actively before the Lord. I am reminded of the words that my pastor once said ‘be faithful to the process and leave the outcome to the Lord.’ Our responsibility is to the ‘process of waiting.’ What does that look like? What can we do?

1) Active waiting involves ‘being still before God.“ It takes much more strength to be still than to do something or say something that may have irreversible consequences. To ‘be still’ before Him is to seek His face, to pray, to meditate upon His word. To be still is to recognize that God is my portion and I will rest in His faithfulness. The psalmists say:.

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him (Psalm 37:7)

In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. (Psalm 5:3)

I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."

2) Active waiting involves ‘hope.” When we stop having ‘hope’ we are more likely to move into a stage of resignation or despair. To wait in hope is to wait in anticipation and to wait in safety. To wait in hope is to have the opportunity to experience more of God’s unfailing love and to know that our waiting is never in vain because through it God is bringing ‘full redemption.’ He is bringing into being things that we cannot see, He is bringing the invisible into the visible.

We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20)

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. (Psalm 130:5-7)

3) Active waiting involves ‘faith’. To believe God’s promises even when the odds are stacked against us and the darkness surrounds us. I love this verse from Romans 4 about Abraham below. O Lord give us such faith in You that we are always fully persuaded and fully convinced that You will do what You have promised.

18Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations. 20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. (Romans 4:18, 20-21)

Benefits of waiting. God blesses us with compassion. God will act on our behalf.

4) Active waiting involves ‘humility’. Humility acknowledges that we are dependent on God for the outcome. As a person who likes to be ‘in control’ God in these past few years has used many people and many circumstances to remind me, that He is God and not I. That He is in control and not I. He rules, He leads and I am to follow. Paterson is right, until we are clear that it is God, not us, who is the Master and we, not God, who are the servant, we will feel our rights have been violated whenever we are forced to wait. We will resent our waiting and find every rationalization to take matters into our own hands. Waiting goes to the heart of our individual ‘rights’ and ‘entitlement’. Time and time again, the lessons of life present opportunities to develop His mindset of ‘waiting’ which is to recognize that I am totally His, bought by Him at a costly price. For those of us who have a strong independent streak, waiting challenges us to depend on God at new levels that perhaps we are not prepared for or that we do not want. Yet it is when we humble ourselves and acknowledge that we are at the mercy of His sovereignty, that we really have no rights, that we are not in control, it is only then by trusting Him implicitly and believing that He can do more for us when we wait than we can do for ourselves through our actions can we become the people he created us to be. When I ‘violate’ His law of waiting, by not humbling myself before Him and taking things into my own hands through irrational or impulsive decisions, I see the ugly consequences of my sin.

I am sure there are many other aspects of waiting. But one of the benefits we receive as we go through this process is what Isaiah wrote. Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30:18 To see more of His compassion and His heart is something I so desperately need as I wait for Him to act on my behalf.

Father I thank you that You act on behalf of those who wait for you. Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. (Isaiah 64:4) May you give to each of us who are waiting, whether it be waiting for a new job, waiting for restoration of broken relationships, waiting for a spouse, waiting for healing, waiting for the clouds around us to clear, O Lord, give us faith, hope, humility and the ability to rest in You and in so doing, we may grow in godliness and maturity in You.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Marie Ens: A Modern Day Caleb

Last August 2004 I had the privilege of meeting a very special lady who inspires me with her humility, her faith and perseverance. At 71 years old I view her as a modern day version of Mother Theresa. I had read about her and prayed for her ministry in Cambodia over the past 3 or 4 years and when God sovereignly ordained for me to meet her at the International church in Phnom Penh in August 2004, I was humbled and yet in awe of her. She is a modern day version of Caleb, not choosing the easy life of ‘retirement’ but has taken the hill country by living out her God ordained purpose as she labours endlessly in the fields of Cambodia. Her life inspires me to continue to labour for the Lord regardless of age because we know that our labours are not in vain. So many people start well but ultimately it is not how well we start in our Christian pilgrimage but rather how well we finish. When I think of Marie, I can’t help but be challenged to live with the same type of intensity perseverance and endurance as she does for her life continues to be a reflection of the words the apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians in Colossians 1:9-11 since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

Below is a brief biography of Marie:

In 1961, the Lord sent His servant Marie Ens to Cambodia from Canada with her husband Norm and two children. In 1994, she returned as a widow. Her work with others at the Military Hospital in Phnom Penh had made her aware of the AIDS crisis on a very personal level as she had visited, prayed and held funerals for those who died. She noted that AIDS patents were very easy to lead to Jesus. They knew they had sinned and they knew that they had no remedy for their sin. The message that Jesus died to take the penalty for their sin and will forgive them and prepare a beautiful new home for them in Heaven was indeed good news. What a wonderful work to be involved in – to rescue precious souls that will soon slip over the edge into eternity.

Place of Rescue became a dream. It would not be a hospice but rather a small commune of houses made of thatch and brick with easy to clean tile floors. There would be a cooking area and a bathroom. Families affected by AIDS could stay together as long as possible. They would all be taken care of and taught of Jesus and live their last days in peace and security. When the parents died, hopefully as believers, the children would be received into the orphanage. On September 1, 2003, the papers were signed and the Place of Rescue became a reality. Marie became an advisor to Place of Rescue with the mandate to raise funds for this vital ministry.

On January 13, 2004, in the rice fields at Biek Chan, construction began behind Rescue AIDS centre into the home to which God will one day bring His chosen 100 children, AIDS orphans, so dear to His heart. AIDS orphans that will someday honor Him before the world in which they live. At the AIDS Centre now houses 18 adult patients and 35 children, six of whom are orphans In addition they are helping several families which includes seven children in home care Imagine our joy to see progress every single day as the houses go up one by one, the community centre takes shape, the chicken coop gets completed, the vegetables spring up in the garden. Our goal is to be completely finished with construction by the end of 2005 but it looks like it will be done before that.

As she said ‘unless God touches the hearts of His people in many lands and urges them to help us, unless they obey and send us their gifts, there is nothing I can do. All of us at Rescue are aware of our Source. He will be faithful for it is He who has called us to Rescue those who are without hope. The dream was His from the beginning

These were Marie’s comments last August 2004. Today Rescue is fully operational, with approximately 91 kids, a flourishing vegetable garden, a pig pen, and a playground for the kids. Butterflies are seen almost every where around the gardens of Rescue and the sounds of laughter from the kids can be heard. She is an advisor to the Christian NGO, Rescue.

For those interested in reading more about Marie there are 3 books available:

JOURNEY TO JOY - the story of the Ens missionary family - written by Marie in 1991

A TIME FOR MERCY - written by Marie in 1997

TWO LITTLE LEAVES - written by Marie and Linda Chisholm, director of Prison Fellowship in Cambodia in 2004

Please send a cheque for $12 Canadian (for the book and postage) to:
Shelly Sylvester, 128 Tuscany Hills Circle, Calgary AB T3L 2E5.
To get a copy of the documentary Marie's Story
Please send a cheque for $35 Canadian (this includes postage) to Shelly Sylvester.
To contact Marie in Cambodia: email address:

For those interested in seeing a video documentary interview on Marie's ministry at Rescue please email me at this post and I will send you a CD.

If you would like to consider contributing to the ongoing ministry of Place of Rescue and/or sponsoring an AIDS orphan you, please designate your gifts to Marie Ens. Donations and tax receipts can be issued in the following countries:

In Canada: The Ratanak Foundation
Box 521, 3495 Cambie St.
Vancouver B.C.V5Z 4R3

In U.S.A : Touch a LifeTouch a Life,
14728 Hereford Road,
Neosho MO 64850

In England : SAO Cambodia
Bawtry Hall
Bawtry Doncaster DN10 6JH UK

The Next Leaders?

These are the young boys who have grown up at the Unacas orphanage in Cambodia. Polla, the tallest one who is next to Marie Ens, a modern day version of Mother Theresa, is a gifted worship leader. He has a natural and God given talent to encourage the other kids to worship God. And then there was Khosol (second to the right). He came to the orphanage when he was young and has the job of taking care of his sister and brother. Khosol turns 18 in another two years and desires to go to University. For now he teaches the other kids Math at the orphanage. What a special time it was to pray over each of then and anoint them. They are the future leaders of Cambodia. They have so much potential and the Lord has brought them to this place, a place of refuge where they can be nurtured spiritually and emotionally and can know the Light of the World. They are the modern day version of Daniel, Joshua, David and Jonathan.

Young Friends at Place of Rescue

These are my young friends at Place of Rescue. They are AIDS orphans. They love to sing and dance.

Believing God For Who He Says He Is

Our second lesson in our Beth Moore bible study on ‘Believing God’ centered on the topic ‘Believing God is who He says He is.' Everything hinges on the faith statement that God is who He says He is. As Beth said, public opinion spans the spectrum from God is not existent to God is the God of the bible. All attempts to define God cannot help but minimize Him. If in our pursuit of greater knowledge God seems to have gotten smaller, then we have been deceived. Nothing is wrong in saying ‘I know my God but I may not fully understand Him.’ We try to take away the ‘mystery’ of God when we try to answer all the questions about who He is. In so doing we minimize God and package Him neatly as if He is something to be boxed in. I really love this quote ‘we cannot tame the Lion of Judah. There is a wonder and a mystery about Him that makes Him marvelous.’ He is a mystery and yet we are secure in Him. Whatever our perception of God, He is more, He is better. God is not the least affected by who we say He is or think He is but we are affected by what we say. In other words, regardless of what people say about God doesn’t change Him or His character. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. God is looking for stewards that believe He is who He says He is so that what He has already empowered in the heavenlies can be released and let loose on earth. God has a storehouse of blessing for our lives. Do I believe it?

Dear Lord, take one more scale off my eyes this day so that I may see you that much more clearer. As I begin this new week, let me keep asking that question ‘ what does it mean that God is who he says He is in the circumstances of my life?’ Grant me O’Lord your spiritual eyes to see each situation from your perspective and just as you blessed Solomon with great wisdom and insight and understanding that is measureless as the sand on the seashore, O Father, I pray that you would continually give me the same portion. For without Your wisdom and discernment, I am a blind person loss without direction, uncertain of the way and the decisions before me. Let me not minimize you or take away the mystery that surrounds You with my futile thinking, but teach me how to marvel at You in circumstances when the answers are not clear. Give me Your strength to wait upon you and to not run ahead of you but simply to sit still at Your feet and rest in Your faithfulness

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Divine Guidance (Author unknown)

About 10 years ago when I was finishing off a 1 year stint serving with OMF in Singapore a missionary friend gave me this tract called 'Divine Guidance'. It has been used by me on several occasions as I reflected on many decisions in my life. As well, I have had the privilege of passing it on to others who are seeking God's direction and leading. I trust that as you read it you too will find it insightful in your spiritual pilgrimmage. I do not know who the author is but I am grateful for the revelation that God gave to them through this tract.

May we always be sure of Divine Guidance? The following simple rules may be helpful:
1) Be absolutely sincere
2) Let ONE and ONLY one, thought actuate you---the Glory of God
3) Be as willing (if God's wills) to have your request DENIED as granted. "While peace we seek or place we shun, The soul finds happiness in none; but with God to guide my way, 'Tis equal joy to go or stay."
4) Do not become agitated. If you have honestly missed God's first plan, He is considerate and glad to give you another opportunity. BELIEVE HIM!
5) Remember, God and His providences lead in only one direction at a time; therefore, never adopt a new course until you feel equally clear to abandon a former one.
6) Always recognize that YOU and your plans are HIS property. If so, you can afford to be set aside and unused if He can afford it,since your eye is single. The longer the delay, the larger the pay.
7) Be willing to submit your plans to your superiors. If your leadings are wholly of the Lord, they will survive all opposition.The more you are abused, the more you will be used.
8) Rest! If you are wholly His, everthing that comes to you is either sent or permitted by Him. If SENT, then it is the very best thing that could come. If PERMITTED, He stands ready, if you only BELIEVE, to rule and overrule all for your good and His glory.
9) Wait! When you do not know what to do, simply DO NOTHING. Wait until the fog clears away. Do not force a half-open door. Ability to hold still while under pressure gives God unlimited sway. A hurry spirit is always from beneath. "He that believeth shall not make haste."
10) Above all, see to it that all self interest and self seeking are gone. Few are wholly free from unsanctified ambition. Some believe they are, but the fact that they are uneasy when opposed is proof of lack of perfect resignation. Being dead to all things but GOD will enable one to keep calm, and make HIM responsible as to the outcome.

Divine impressions are persuasive; God does not drive, but leads His children. Impressions from other sources are loud, clamorous, feverish, and seek to drown the Spirit's voice. You can detect the devil by one or two things. The devil talks loud; Jesus always talks low and tender. An impression can be made in a loud, boisterous, rushing, pell-mell sort of way, or can come quietly, gently tenderly and sweetly.Impressions from above always give sufficient time to the honest seeker to test their geniueness. Those from below are in a hurry and fearing detection, clamour for immediate decisions. The devils wants you to be in a hurry and rush and go pell-mell, and not wait for anything; whereas Jesus is always quiet and always calm, and always takes His time. When you take things to God in prayer, and you wait, if God makes an impression on the mind, it always comes gently, tenderly. The more you wait on God---if the conviction comes from the Holy Ghost--the more you wait and the more you pray, the stronger it becomes. If it comes from the devil, the more you wait the the more you pray, the weaker it grows. You can tell by that. Impressions from above Welcome the Light. Those from below shrink back from it. The first are to be catechized, the second are afraid of tests, and don't like to be questioned. Impressions from above, when followed, are attended by a sweet peace and the consciousness that they are right; those from below by perplexity and that something is wrong.The first brings rest. The second robs of it. Those from above make us feel "I ought to do so."Impressions from above ripen into convictions. Those from below never do. God never asks us to act on uncertainties. The devil comes with a suggestion and it appears to be the truth. He persistently pushes it. If resisted, he claims that those who do so are resisting the Spirit. don't forget that if the Holy Spirit inspires anything, He always gives time to consult upon it with God.

Is it Scriptural? In harmony with God's will as revealed in the Word?
Is it right? In harmony with God's will as revealed in man's moral nature?
Is it providential? In harmony with God's will as revealed in God's providential dealings?
Is it reasonable? In harmony with God's will as revealed to a spiritually enlightened judgement?

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Believing God For Your Promised Land

This past Tuesday September 27th I started a bible study with some gals from my church Rexdale Alliance. It is a video series for the next 9 weeks and our teacher is Beth Moore. Beth’s is one of most engaging bible teachers gifted with humor in her lessons but more importantly, grounded in her knowledge and teaching of the scriptures in a way that captivates and invites us to draw deeper to drink from the Fountain of Life. I have taken 2 other Beth Moore bible studies and while I eagerly signed up for this one, my concern was whether I could be committed to doing all the homework as I looked at my schedule in the next few months. Yet God knows what I need when I need it and sitting in class and attending the first lesson on this series calling ‘Believing God’ was exactly what I needed to refresh my soul. It is great to be able to sit at the feet of wise and godly teachers and just soak in the word of God. So even though I may groan and feel tired from a busy day of work, my own prayer is that God will use this bible study to continue to sustain me but more than that, fuel a deeper love for His word that will lead to greater spiritual transformation in my life which will ultimately bring glory to Him.

Our first lesson was entitled ‘Believing God For Your Promised Land’. An interesting title that reminds us that God originally promised a large segment of prime property (later termed the promised land) to Abraham and his descendants. New Testament believers are the spiritual seed of Abraham. As Beth Moore said, my ‘promised land’ is the place where my ‘theology’ merges with my ‘reality.’ She notes that John 15 is the New Testament spiritual equivalent of the promised land concept. Our promised land is a place of possession where we are called to possess Christ’s words, much affirmed prayer and the joy of Jesus. Our promised lands are places of God’s unapologetic blessing to the obedient. Our promised land is a place of God abiding in Christ’s love. It is a place where God brings forth a great harvest (Deut 7:7-9) ,(John 15:8). A place that will always involves conquests; we don’t just sit down and receive them, we go forward and take them. Our promised lands are places of great victory over our enemy( Josh 3:10). Our promised lands are places where God is willing to work untold wonders, but He desires two critical preparations from us: faith and sanctification (Num 15:31-34). As Beth said, we can live our whole lives and not enter our promised land because the number one hindrance to one’s calling becoming a reality is unbelief. We tend to whine and wish instead of believing and receiving.

As part of our bible study we are required to memorize verses or statements of faith that will enable us to believe God and so this week the statement of faith we claim is these:

God is who He says He is
God can do what He says He can do
I am who God says I am
I can do all things through Christ
God’s word is alive and active in me

Dear Lord help me to believe You for my promised land grant me deeper eyes of faith to believe you despite all the obstacles, all the visible realities that are contrary to your word. Help me to live a life of authenticity where my theology merges with my reality and my talk is my walk. Help me daily to possess Your word even when our culture and our society opposes Your truth, Help me daily to abide in Your love when I do not feel loved by those around me. Help me to taste the joy of Jesus each day so that truly I will delight in all that You give me whether it be trials or great times, help me to say from that familiar song ‘blessed be Your name, you give and take away but blessed be Your name.’ Lord enable me to have your spiritual eyes to see the harvest that is part of my promised land…to go in and take it and not sit back and wait but to move forward when You command me to move forward. Thank you that our promised lands are places of great victory over our enemy, give me the strength to stand firm and to have a determined resolve to put on the full armor of God so that I will not be shaken by the enemy’s tactics. But most of all O’Lord prepare my heart, prepare my mind, give me a faith like Abraham who believed and it was credited to Him as righteousness, Sanctify me daily and cleanse me so that my heart may always be pure for you said in Your word, ‘blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see the Lord.’ Oh Lord, to see You more, to believe You more make these an all consuming desire in my soul. Let me not whine and wish but with confidence enter in to receiving all the good gifts that You have for me. Lord I don’t want to sit at the edge of my promise land, I want to enter it, so give me courage and boldness as you did Joshua so that I will take hold of that which You are offering to me. In Jesus name.

A Friend

(Author unknown)

A friend is a person whom you want to have near when you are dying.
And whom you like to be with while you are living;
To whom you spontaneously turn for help when you are in trouble.
And who is the first to hear the good news when you have good fortune
Whose counsel you seek when you are perplexed.
And whose congratulations you welcome when the perplexity is solved;
In whom you can confide the secret you want no other living soul to know.
Yet will never pry into your heart to discover whether there are any more secrets to be revealed.
On whom you can lean when your heart aches.
But who will never take advantage of your leaning;
Who will get down on her knees beside you when you are down.
And forget that she did so when you are on your feet again;
And whose shoulder you can weep on when you are sad.
And with whom you enjoy laughing when you are glad;
Who has a tear on her cheek when you suffer.
And a twinkle in her eye when the sun shines on you again;
Who has pain in her tone when you are in distress.
And melody in her voice when your heart is gay;
Who admires you for your strong points.
But loves you in spite of your weak ones;
Who can laugh at your foibles, without despising you for having them;
Who makes allowance for your limitations, without allowing them to obscure your talents;
Who is proud of you when fortune favors you.
But not ashamed of you when you fail;
Who contributes to your success without claiming any share in it.
Who can feel and show satisfaction when you please her.
But never resentment when you disappoint her;
Who will tell you the truth even when it hurts.
And to whom you can tell the truth without her taking offense;
Who is not ashamed to ask you a favor even at the risk of being imposed upon.
Who can extend a helping hand and lighten your load
Without expecting any other reward than having had the privilege of so doing;
Who gives all she can whenever she can, without ever keeping a record of what she has given;
Who says the best about you when everybody else is saying the worst.
God help me to be such a friend.

Equipping: The Lag From Calling To Sending

These comments were given to me by a missionary mentor many years ago. May God use it to speak into each of our lives as we discern the unique calling He has on our lives

Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days.” Galatians 1:18.

Do you sense that God has called you to something, but you don’t know what? There is always a lag between the calling and the sending of a saint. What is the thing from the old you that still persist even though you now have Christ? This is what God must work on (to add or subtract) before He sends you. First, He calls. Then, He equips. Then, He sends.

It is hard to be called by God and to live in our society at the same time. In America, when the action impulse comes, action follows immediately. No patience required – technology and culture leads us to proceed immediately. Not so with God. Immediately when He calls us, He postpones our sending. There is other work to be done first.

The Calling, Equipping and Sending of Paul
The Apostle Paul experienced the most dramatic conversion in all history. On the road to Damascus a light suddenly flashed, and he fell to the ground. Jesus said to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”(Acts 9:4) For three days, Paul stumbled around blind and did not eat or drink. Then God sent Ananias to Paul to deliver this calling: “This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.”(Acts 9:15)

Immediately upon hearing it, Paul began to preach that Jesus is the Son of God. The people were astonished, and he grew more and more powerful in his calling. Then an odd thing happened. After only a few days, Paul fled to Arabia where he remained in obscurity for three years. Here was a famous man, the persecutor of the Christians, known throughout the region, feared by every Christian. His conversion would be big news. His calling, to take the Gospel to the Gentiles would be very big news indeed. But, he was not ready for the calling.

God caused a lag between the calling and the sending of Paul. God took Paul to the desert for three years because there was something that God still needed to work into – or out of – Paul. Only God knows what it was for Paul. What is it for you? Or, do you know yet? It is not all that important that you even know what God is doing in you. Knowing that He is the one doing it should suffice.

To know that God causes the lag between our calling and our sending is satisfying. He always equips us for the calling before the sending. He will never give us a task for which we are not sufficiently equipped. We can of course, go before we are actually sent. This is the work of the flesh, and it always results in delay. We need the lag between our calling and our sending for God to do His repair work on us. He wants to send only properly prepared people. We must allow enough time to do it right the first time.

A Change of Calling
When a new calling comes, the sense of purpose we had from our previous calling withers away. Instead of feeling a surge of power and confidence about the future, the future becomes an unfocused blur. The natural reaction is to make plans of our own, to set some new goals. The spiritual reaction is to thank God for the blur. It is a time for God to work that thing in or out of your life. It is a time of tearing down old thinking and building up new thinking. It is a time to abandon the inevitable presuppositions and self deceit that build up over time. It is a time for self-examination. It is a time to be re-equipped.

The lag between the calling and the sending should be a sweet time, a special time. It is a time for reflection and rededication, for renewal. Don’t be rushed into sending. God will reveal that day with an unmistakable signal. No doubt will remain that it is the sending time. “Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter.”(Galatians 1:18)

Radical Servanthood (A Quote from Henry Nouwen)

"Service is an expression of the search for God and not just of the desire to bring about individual or social change. As long as the help we offer to others is motivated primarily by the changes we may accomplish, our service cannot last long. When results do not appear, when success is absent, when we are no longer liked or praised for what we do we lose the strength and motivation to continue. When we see nothing but sad, poor, sick or miserable people who, even after our many attempts to offer help, remain, sad, poor, sick and miserable, then the only reasonable response is to move away in order to prevent our selves from becoming cynical or depressed. Radical servanthood challenges us, while attempting persistently to overcome poverty, hunger, illness, and any other form of human misery, to reveal the gentle presence of our compassionate God in the midst of our broken world." (H. Nouwen)

Cambodia Update (September 2005)

September 2005

Dear Family & Friends

It has been almost a month since I returned from my 'vacation with a purpose' trip to South East Asia. Thank you for all your prayers as we certainly saw the fruits of your partnership. In returning home after a rather hectic time in which my 'extroverted personality' was stretched to its limits, I have been a bit of a recluse preferring to be a "Mary" sitting still if you will, at the feet of Jesus. This process will be ongoing but for now I am grateful for what God has shown me and now the challenge is always how to respond. Henry Blackaby the author of Experiencing God once said 'I am convinced more and more that every solitary encounter with God is a moment of judgment. Whenever God speaks, whatever you do next reveals what you believe about God. And so when God speaks I always assume that I am standing in a moment of judgment because whatever I do next will receive either the blessing or the condemnation of God. These are strong words but we do well to heed them.

In reflecting on this 4th visit to Cambodia, the pace of economic development has noticeably increased. More roads are paved and the presence of traffic lights have made for a somewhat orderly flow. There are more cars (actually many Lexus SUVs and even Mercedes Benz would you believe) and a new air conditioned shopping mall reminiscent of those we see in North America with western type eateries. But in the midst of this change, the effects of the Khmer Rouge era still permeate the landscape. The contrast between rich and poor continues to widen, the ongoing corruption within the ranks of government remains, the sexual exploitation of children persists and the AIDS epidemic continues to leave its marks with many AIDS orphans. The list is endless as one thinks of the darkness that haunts the Cambodian people as a result of their past. Yet despite all of this, the Lord in His graciousness fixed my eyes upon what He was doing and chose to show me many places where His light is penetrating that darkness and giving hope to the lives of Cambodians through those who labor for Him in these challenging circumstances. One verse that God kept impressing upon my mind was from Isaiah 43:18-19, 18"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

While 90% of the Christian church was wiped out during the Khmer Rouge era, today the Cambodian church is growing at an astonishing rate of 30% annually. Indeed a whole new generation is being raised up in this impoverished land to worship the Lord. This was no more evident than at the New Life Foundation church in Phnom Penh which has about 300+ Cambodians and the Unacas Orphanage church which includes orphans and locals from the near by village in Biek Chen. Seeing a young 17 year old orphan Polla leading over 200 enthusiastic worshippers both young and old in a song called 'Walking In the Light" brought tears to my eyes as I thought of the passage from Revelations 7:9 -109After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God. The Lord had not forgotten the seed He had planted so many years ago in this dry land and in the midst of the desert and barrenness, He is continuing to do a new thing. What Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge attempted to destroy, God had protected and a new and vibrant shoot was sprouting up in the desert.

In returning to visit Place of Rescue AIDS Centre & Orphanage it was another opportunity to see God's light shinning brightly as the 10 new orphan homes were completed and filled with young and old children. The play ground last year was just a figment of my imagination but now, it was fully operational with the kids laughing as they enjoyed the slides and swings. The vegetable garden which supplies food for all the orphans and AIDS families at the centre had grown and expanded. But perhaps the greatest joy was simply playing and spending time with the orphans and kids at the AIDS centre. Language is no barrier to having fun with children. They love to sing and dance and are not shy in performing the Christian songs they know or reciting the scriptures verses that they have been taught. With the tireless efforts and help of an OMF worker Cathy De La Cruz who has been serving at Place of Rescue, we handed out loot bags of an assortment of Canadian and Cambodian goodies for 240 orphans and AIDS kids that attend the monthly birthday celebration at the centre. What a privilege it was to pray a blessing over these precious ones and to ask our Heavenly Father to continue to pour His love over them daily so that they would be rooted and established in Him. One special treat was meeting my AIDS 'daughter' Theary, her brothers and her mum and being able to pray with and for them on a few occasions. Currently there is no known cure for AIDS, yet earlier this year the Rescue AIDS centre witnessed a miraculous healing of one of their residents from AIDS. We pray with faith and hope that God in His mercy would perform more miracles like this in the lives of these who live here so that they too will one day testify that Jesus has set them completely free from this disease.

Another place we visited was New Hope Ministries. You may recall in my August newsletter that New Hope ministries seeks to minister to displaced Vietnamese refugees who live along the banks of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers in Cambodia. If one wanted to encounter a place of 'hopeless' and oppressiveness this was it. These Vietnamese refugees along with their kids have lived in squalor conditions for almost 4 generations in these colonies along the river. They have no rights under Cambodian law so they are unable to work or own any property. Their kids are unable to attend school and therefore, they have no opportunity to learn Cambodian or be fully integrated into Cambodian society. They are not wanted by their own native country of Vietnam and for all intent and purposes live in no-man's land. Living with uncertainty is a part of their daily routine for in any given day, they may be ordered to leave their shanty homes long the banks of the river for another unknown destination that the Cambodian government has for them. Yet in the midst of this 'captivity', God once again revealed to me that He has not forgotten those whom He has created. There is no darkness that Jesus' light cannot penetrate. He will do whatever it takes to reach out to His creation. Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! 16See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. Isaiah 49:15 With the help of a Canadian Vietnamese Physiotherapist and evangelist Khang Nguyen from the C&MA, and his two 'evangelist assistants', one of whom actually grew up in this very environment, the fragrance and aroma of Christ is touching the lives of these children through a weekly Kids bible club and school. The kids have an opportunity to receive a basic education and learn Christian songs as well as Christian values. As I reflected on their situation, I was reminded of a book I had read earlier this year entitled: Second Choice: Embracing Life As It Is by Viv Thomas. The author examines how the prophet Daniel learned not only to survive but also thrive in a place that was not his choosing, what Thomas calls "a second-choice world. Daniel's story is a profound testament to God's sovereignty and provision. Yet Thomas reminds us that "the world in which we live is itself a second choice. Things are not as they should be," and like Daniel, "we live our lives in the context of this dislocation. Daniel insists that second-choice worlds are not dumping grounds for failures; they are rather arenas in which to demonstrate the reality of God." As we live in our second-choice world, the knowledge that whatever or whoever has been the cause of our entering it does not possess the final authority over us, is transformational. Sickness does not rule: God does. Poverty does not rule: God does." The Lord alone is the One who has the power to "change times and seasons," and yes, even who we are; "for he is the Living God.

In closing, one of my prayer requests on this trip was that the Lord would continue to develop a 'Nehemiah' type vision in my heart and in so doing, I would have the opportunity to mobilize others to be involved in building His kingdom in Cambodia. Last year a documentary was put together to promote the orphanage ministry and a similar one is expected to be completed from this trip. God has already used this medium to touch one of my colleagues at work who earlier this year began supporting 10 orphans at Place of Rescue AIDS Centre & Orphanage. Recently he approached me again and asked if his wife could come with me next year in my annual pilgrimage to Cambodia. His reasons: she would like to be involved in promoting and fundraising for this orphanage. Praise God for this connection. Pray that I would continue to have favor with my work colleague Steve and that God will anoint this second documentary and use it as a tool to bring others to participate in rebuilding the broken gates and walls of Cambodia.

Secondly, in July of this year I had the opportunity to connect with the Ratanak Foundation in Vancouver ( Under the leadership of Brian McConaghy, Ratanak is dedicated to bringing spiritual hope to the Khmer people by assisting Cambodia in rebuilding the social and medical services and equipping her people. I have been asked to consider being a representative for Ratanak here in Toronto and to possibly be involved with assessing and evaluating potential ministry projects in Cambodia through my yearly visits. Please pray with me that the Lord will clarify and confirm the extent of my involvement with the Ratanak Foundation.

Thank you again for your continuous support and encouragement and for taking the time to read these tidbits from my travels in Cambodia. Do keep in touch and let me know how I can pray for you.

For His Glory


Cambodia Update (August 2005)

August 2005

Dear Family & Friends,

In just under a week I will be heading once again to South East Asia along with a former team mate (Anne Song) from the 2002 Cambodia Short Term mission trip. This will be my fourth trip to Cambodia in the last 5 years as God continues to challenge me to see missions not as a program or one off event, but as an ongoing lifestyle. This pilgrimage to Cambodia is an opportunity to continue fuelling the passion and vision He has placed in my heart for Cambodia. As Erwin McManus in his book “The Barbarian Way’ says: Jesus came to ignite a fire within us that would consume us and ignite us. These days the fire within seems to be burning brighter as I sense the Lord’s hand through this journey. He has been opening doors and new partnerships through friends and strangers alike in Toronto, Vancouver and Cambodia who have a similar passion to see God’s redemptive work done in that nation.

As I think of the places and people I will be visiting, I am reminded of the verses in Matthew 9:35-37. 35Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Throughout the bible we read scriptures similar to this where Jesus is surrounded by crowds and instead of being overwhelmed by their needs, He is filled with compassion. As Mcmanus writes, Jesus’ invitation is a revolutionary call to fight for the heart of humanity. We are called to an unconventional war using only the weapons of faith, hope and love. It is these very ‘weapons’ and His compassion for the lost, the marginalized, the outcasts, the needy, the harassed, the helpless and the vulnerable that compels me to keep taking small steps forward and to trust God to expand and sharpen the vision within my heart.

My three week trip to South East Asia from August 18th to September 5th, will include visits to Cambodia and brief stopovers in Singapore and in San Francisco. It will be an opportunity to encounter once again many who display what Henri Nouwen called, radical servant hood which challenges us, while attempting persistently to overcome poverty, hunger, illness, and any other form of human misery, to reveal the gentle presence of our compassionate God in the midst of our broken world." In Cambodia, I will have the privilege of making my second visit to Place of Rescue, an AIDS centre and orphanage run by Marie Ens, a modern day version of Mother Theresa who at 69 years old, continues to inspire me with her dedication, compassion and total dependency on God as she ministers to those who are dying of AIDS and provides an environment for AIDS orphans to experience God’s love and joy. It will be my first opportunity to meet a little AIDS orphan Theary that I support and to celebrate her 3rd birthday with her and the other 42 orphans at the AIDS centre. Anne & I will also have the pleasure of bringing various items (including toys, medical supplies and some Canadian snacks) that have been donated and we look forward to seeing the joy they will bring to these little lives.

While in Phnom Penh we also plan to visit New Hope Ministries which is run by the Christian Missionary & Alliance. New Hope Ministries seeks to help displaced refugees from Vietnam who live along the Mekong river by providing medical services, schools, children's bible clubs as well as churches for the refugees. Many of these Vietnamese refugees have come searching for jobs, but without proper papers most have been denied employment. They have no place to go but the shanty towns along the banks of the Mekong. Poverty among Vietnamese refugees in Cambodia has tempted mothers, fathers and grandparents to sell their daughters and granddaughters to brothels to raise survival money for the rest of the family. Many of the sex workers are teenagers as such, Newhope ministries hopes to open a home and school for women and girls wishing to escape the sex trade.

From there we will travel inland to visit OMF missionary friends Hak Hyun and Seung Won Cho who serve in a small town called Neak Loeung located 65km outside of the capital city of Phnom Penh. This will be an opportunity for Anne to re-connect with Khmer friends that she spent time with in 2002, but it will also be an opportunity for us to encourage our missionary friends and to prayer walk around the area since persecution against local Khmer Christians is common. Following that, we will return to Phnom Penh, to spend time with young Khmer friends Davin, Seiha, James and Jacky.

As I visit Cambodia, I am mindful of the fact that the needs are many and can seem overwhelming, but the Lord reminded me of the story of Nehemiah and his vision to restore the broken gates and walls of Jerusalem. I was encouraged and challenged by these words from Chip Ingram in his book ‘Holy Ambition: Nehemiah had a dislocated heart. He had a God given concern that propelled him out of his comfort zone. He had a passionate concern for God’s people and God’s agenda that superseded his own personal comfort and prosperity. He cared about things elsewhere when circumstances didn’t dictate that he had to. The Lord is looking for people who are willing to live on the edge. People who will let God breathe into them dreams that can change the world. People who so long to see God’s agenda fulfilled in this fallen world that they attempt what seems impossible, ridiculous and ‘out of the box’ for God’s glory. People with holy ambition. Every great movement of God and every project about relief of human need and the fulfillment of God’s will has started with one man or one woman who cared deeply enough to hear God’s voice and stepped out to do something. It started with a dislocated heart. That person understood that he couldn’t change everything but he was convinced he had to change something. Nehemiah was such a person and so too God has created and designed us to be. Just as the Lord enabled Nehemiah so that he might share God’s concerns and so be caught up into God’s purposes, I pray that this will be true in your life and mind.

Will you join me in prayer that:

· The Lord will open my spiritual eyes to see the needs from His perspective and to seek His direction on how best to respond.

· Pray that God will continue to develop a ‘Nehemiah’ type vision in my heart and in so doing, I will have the opportunity to mobilize others to be involved in building His kingdom in Cambodia.

· Pray for our interactions with all whom the Lord brings our way during this trip, that we will be able to encourage them and that He will anoint our words so that we will continue to sow His seed into their hearts.

· Pray for God’s protection in our travels and for good health for both Anne and myself especially as we go into the more rural area of Neak Loeung.

A New Form Of communication

In the good old days it used to be that people would communicate face to face and then we had the telephone and if we wanted to be more creative, we would send a 'snail mail letter'. But these days technology is changing so fast and we have email, pagers, RIMs and now the blogger. My friend Hamster, a transplanted Canadian who is now working in Northern California introduced me to this whole new world of blogging. I'm looking forward to sharing my thoughts but first I need to be more acquainted with this new mode of communication. So if anyone has any suggestions or tidbits feel free to share your insights.