Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sweetpeas in Wisconsin - and Sunday School in Cambodia

I am in Wisconsin for the summer... a working holiday as I enjoy the cool breezes, fresh air, wildflowers, among which are these sweet peas, which grow in the thin rocky soil of my little yard.

What I'm also doing is getting caught up on some of my work.. I'm so grateful for the internet.... just this morning I've already been in touch with Christians in Australia, Cambodia, Myanmar, India, Geneva, and of course, Hong Kong! "God's big back yard" is more connected than ever.

As part of getting caught up I want to show you the pictures from my most recent trip to Cambodia last month.

I got to visit Kirany, a Lutheran Theological Seminary (Hong Kong) Alumna from Cambodia who is now back in Cambodia, putting her intelligence, training, and loving faithfulness to work with children at a small local church.
Kirany works in an NGO during the week, which helps support her and her family (parents, siblings, and beautiful, beautiful little niece) but on the weekends, she's deeply involved with children... who grow in the thin rocky economic conditions of life in the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The view as Kirany took me on a slightly harrowing motorbike ride from my hotel to church in the LIGHT traffic of Sunday morning.  And yes, there were THREE of us on her small motorbike.
The "garden" where Kirany's "flowers" grow!
Lots of laughter and multi-media punctuate the lessons. Creative Christian Education is one of the emphases of the "practical theology" programs at the Lutheran Theological Seminary (LTS) in Hong Kong

Teaching English through Bible songs is an "added value" for children who need English to access the wider world.
See how God's garden grows... in Cambodia!
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
    and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
    and praise spring up before all nations.
 -- the prophet Isaiah 61:11

Sunday, June 3, 2012

My First Baptism in the Mekong... (May in Mekong - Day 3)

Sarin and his Mom.
 On Day Three in Cambodia, I was invited by LTS (Lutheran Theological Seminary in Hong Kong) alumni Sarah and Sarin to  go out to the countryside, outside of Phnom Penh, where Sarin's parents live in a small village. Sarin's Dad had been crippled years ago, while living in a refugee camp, so his tiny Mom has worked to sustain their family with small business and farming projects.

Sarin was the first in his family to become a follower of Jesus Christ, and one by one the rest of his family came to faith, too.

Except for his Dad, who understandably, had a lot to wonder about this God, this Christ Jesus, this new Lord of his son's.

Through divine interventions... and maybe through the new, fresh voices of Sarin's bride, Sarah, and the beautiful grandchildren they gave to Sarin's Dad... maybe because of their regular visits, their persistent love....

And because of some dreams.  Over the last few years Sarin's Dad has been given some amazing dreams, and discovered that God's Son is for real.

It was an beautiful story and an moving testimony to me, of the power of God's Spirit to draw people to Christ, even in the countryside, even in Cambodia, where recent human history seems to contradict the existence of a caring, loving God.  

"So where were you baptized?" I asked, just out of curiosity.

"Baptized, I haven't been baptized yet.  But -" (he said in Khmer, with Sarah as our translator, but he was looking directly at me) "You're a pastor.  You could do my baptism!"

And there was a basin of water.  A congregation was easily, enthusiastically summoned.  An "acolyte" was found to add more water to the basin. 

Sarah (originally from Hong Kong) and  her father-in-law

A granddaughter who shares special treats with her Grandpa - fresh roast frog!

"You're a pastor, you could do my baptism, couldn't you?"

A congregation is easily gathered

An acolyte adds more water to the "baptismal font"

A preacher has been preached to, by this incredible experience of joy.
A long-married wife is delighted to present her  husband with a gift of flowers in honor of his new birth in Christ

36-39As they continued down the road, they came to a stream of water. The eunuch said, "Here's water. Why can't I be baptized?" He ordered the chariot to stop. They both went down to the water, and Philip baptized him on the spot. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of God suddenly took Philip off, and that was the last the eunuch saw of him. But he didn't mind. He had what he'd come for and went on down the road as happy as he could be.  (Acts 8 - The Message translation of the Bible.... and I kid you not, my Bible just "happened" to be bookmarked at exactly this passage that day)