Guests lining up for a wedding
The front of the wedding line
This morning as I was waiting outside my hotel at 7am for my tuk tuk driver to take me to Svay Pak, I noticed this long line of people all dressed up in formal attire. It turned out they were guests of a wedding that was about to happen and were assembling with the gifts they were bringing for the bride and groom. It was such a beautiful sight seeing some of the traditional Cambodian outfits that men and women wear but at the end of the line were even two chefs who were part of the procession displaying two large pig legs that I imagine will be part of the wedding feast!
The guests bringing their wedding gifts
The chefs displaying the food for the wedding!
Well today was my last Sunday in attending the service in Svay Pak (for this year) and as I sat listening to the students worshipping in some of the familiar Khmer songs that I have heard over these past couple of months, I couldn't help but imagine what it will be like even a year from now. So much has happened in just two short years when this church had started in Rahab's house with just Pastor Chantha, Bunthan and Ratanak. There were no students back them helping out. The church at the time numbered around 70 people. Yet today, the number of students being discipled by Pastor Chantha is now growing to around 30---two more recently asked if they could come and join the other students. The church has already grown out of the new space in The Sanctuary with approximately 450 people. But its not about the numbers, its about what God is doing in the hearts of people within Svay Pak as His Word goes forth each week. People are coming out of the darkness and stepping into His light as He opens their eyes and their hearts to the truth that He cares for them, He loves them and they can have a new life of hope in Him.
I have had the privilege during this time of seeing some of my guitar students progress to a level of playing that they can pick up English songs within minutes of hearing the tune and the words. That in itself is amazing as I am still trying to learn how to sing in Khmer for the past 6 weeks!
Paulie & Srey Lin (Back row)
Theary, Srey Nich and Malin (Front Row)
Today it was such a joy to see three of the students along with Paulie the worship leader singing and playing two songs: Jesus We Enthrone You in Khmer and a popular Chris Tomlin song---'Here I am to worship' in English. Just before they went on, I had spent time praying with them as they were quite nervous. It was a time of inviting God's peace to descend upon their nervous hearts and to remind that that it wasn't about them, it was about lifting the name of Christ high as they give their best to Him.' I am so proud of what they have accomplished and Srey Nich, one of the students said to me 'next year when you come we will have a special song to sing to you.' I can't wait to see what that will be especially since a U.S church gave money to buy a digital piano and another church had bought drums. Pastor Chantha hopes to have a worship band formed by his very own students over the next few months and given what I've seen, it wouldn't be long before God establishes gifted musicians from this group of students. They are all eager to learn, these are hungry worshippers and I wouldn't be surprised if they end up writing their own songs of praise!
Ratanak & Dary
'Some of the boys'
After service, we all went out to a restaurant called Tonle Bassac for an all you can eat Khmer luncheon buffet --- all for the cost of $5.00 per person. Today is Ratanak's birthday and he was totally surprised and didn't realize we were celebrating his birthday until he got into the restaurant and noticed the birthday cake and the 3o plus chairs with balloons attached to them. Perhaps the most meaningful time was just after he blew out his candles.
Some of the students
Ratanak about to pray
Some of the students handing him the birthday cards they made
In the West, the birthday person would say a few words but Ratanak is such a spiritual young man he simply said 'let's pray' and that we did as he prayed and gave thanks to God. Then one of by one each of the other students handed him hand made cards with personal write words of blessing for him. But that was not the end, Paulie led the group into singing Happy Birthday to Ratanak in both English and Khmer before they all broke out in a Khmer Christian song 'Arkun Preah Ong'---which means thank you Jesus. With over 30 of us singing, the entire restaurant stopped and looked at us. It was a wonderful time of celebration but perhaps the most touching moment was when I noticed Pi-Rha ( I blogged about her a couple days ago) collecting money from each of the students. I asked her what that was all about. It seemed that one of the students had his birthday 3 days ago but no one knew about it so she was collecting money from each of the students so they could buy him a birthday cake. These small actions speak to the bond of love that God is establishing and cultivating among and in the heart of the students. Their devotion to the Lord and His ways is reflected in how they support and encourage one another to ensure that no one is overlooked or ignored. How important such an attitude is in such a community as Svay Pak which for years has been forgotten and ignored.
Jesus said 'be faithful in the little things and I will entrust you with bigger things.' I can't help but think that these 'little acts' of love that I have witnessed while here are building a tsunami of love that will be poured out in greater measure over Svay Pak in the months and years to come!