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January 2012

Christian Mentorship

Today, I had a meeting with Sam Huang. Sam is a recent graduate of Holy Light Theological Seminary and currently serving as a missionary to a Creative Access Country here in Asia. He is here in Taiwan for a short furlough. We got together today for prayer and mutual encouragement. "I am not sure if I need to continue as a long-term missionary after this short one-year missionary service," Sam shares to me. He pours his heart out to me. He expresses his ambivalence towards this important decision. His field superiors think highly of him, and yet he is not sure of the right timing. One thing that is complicating his situation is his relationship with his girlfriend, who is also in the same locality. Sam is facing many decisions that most of us veteran workers would most probably have trouble with. And yet, he is taking it with so much grace and patience.

Please pray for Sam. Pray for God's guidance in his life. Pray for his girlfriend and the decisions they are going to make for marriage, career partnership, and most probably relocation to another missionary field. I admire Sam very much. He is a good friend. At this point, I am mentoring him to be a better missionary and Christian leader. In the future, he won't be needing me. He will be able to stand on his own. And when that day comes, I won't mind it if he will become my mentor. He certainly is the kind of person I would trust my life, my family, and my career. God is leading him, and I will follow.

Playing Soccer With Jacob

I am back in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I am still tired from my 8-day mission trip in Cambodia. Taiwan's cool weather is helping me get back to "normal." I think today's soccer game is very important. This is the first day of the MAK (Morrison Academy of Kaohsiung) soccer camp. Carmen and Jacob are participating. I volunteered to be one of the trainers and help out the coach and organizer, Chris (the MAK librarian). I think this is important because I want to connect with my 7-year old son. He is in that age where he is discovering new things. He spends most of his time at school. So, Saturday morning soccer camp is a great excuse for me to spend time with my children and, hopefully, Jacob will later consider me as his coach. I think there is progress. Later today, after the drills and exercises, Jacob came to me and said, "Papa, are you the coach?" I smiled and nodded. "I am an assistant coach. Mr. Laytham is the coach." I am happy playing soccer with my children.

Passionate Leadership

"Forty new members this year. Just this last few weeks, we had seven mothers come to the Lord," Pastor Gideon is sharing these stories to me. I am interviewing Gideon, one of our Free Methodist local church pastor here in Cambodia. "The House of Joy [HOJ] is giving this church many opportunities for evangelism," Gideon continues. He shares about his work at the HOJ, a children's center managed by the Free Methodist work here in Cambodia. Local families are more willing to invite the local church pastor to come to their houses because their children participate in the ICCM sponsorship program administered through the HOJ. ICCM or International Child Care Ministries is based in Indiana (USA) and helps children from around the world. Gideon supervises the HOJ work as well as leads the local FM church adjoining the HOJ building. This arrangement is one of our creative approaches to Christian ministry; partnering child sponsorship with church planting. God is mightily blessing the FM work here in this small village in the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

I am here with a mission team from Taiwan. The team members are composed of mostly students from the Holy Light Theological Seminary (HLTS). We are serving the children of the House of Love (HOL), a center similar to HOJ and located in Prek Thie village. I am documenting our experiences here in Cambodia using a video camera with the intention of sharing this to our brothers and sisters in Taiwan and USA. Once we are back in Kaohsiung, I will share Pastor Gideon's testimony to our FM pastors. I am hoping that this will open the doors to more Taiwanese Free Methodists coming to Cambodia to see God's ministry for themselves. God is working in many wonderful ways. I do not want my brothers and sisters in Taiwan to miss the action. I want them to know and participate in what the Spirit of God is doing around the world.

Meanwhile, I am talking to Kimsang, a Cambodian leader with the YWAM (Youth With A Mission). He shares to me the different ways YWAM is helping small local churches around Cambodia get connected to many Christians and churches around the world. I hear his words filled with so much passion for the Lord. Just like Pastor Gideon, he also has this vision of helping local people. Despite extreme poverty and other ministry difficulties, these two Christian leaders are obeying God and making a difference among ordinary people. God is touching people's lives through these passionate leaders.

God is here and He is changing me

God is changing my plans. I came with a lot of prepared lessons, but God wants me to be flexible and make some adjustments. I am so glad that He is taking over. This mission trip is slowly making sense because God is the one who is leading the team. He is here and he is guiding both Taiwanese mission team members and the Cambodian members of Prek Thei Free Methodist Church (PTFMC).

I am here right now in Prek Thei, a Cambodian village in the outskirts of Phnom Penh, the city capital. I am with a group of eleven seminary students from Holy Light Theological Seminary and two young people from two FM churches in Kaohsiung. We will start serving the children of House of Love this coming Monday. Today and tomorrow, we are helping the young people of PTFMC. The youth leaders have requested me to lead workshop on Praise and Worship Team ministry. I have long prepared lessons, but after talking to our missionary, Muiling, I have decided to redesign my lessons so that they meet the needs of our FM youth members here in Prek Thei. I am so grateful to the Taiwan team members. Despite the language barriers, they did very well. As part of our workshop, I asked them to lead in small groups. This was not part of our original plan, but they graciously accepted the challenge and encouraged the Cambodian young people. I was so moved by enthusiasm of these mission team members. God is here.

This Cambodia Mission 2012 is finally making sense. God is leading the way. One of the youth members shares to me that for two years now, he has been praying for God to send someone to help with his involvement with the PTFMC worship team. "That person is you," he continues. I certainly will be praying for this young person. More so, I want to obey God's leadership. If I am that person who will help the youth of Prek Thei, I want to be faithful to our God and serve Him here in Cambodia. I am grateful that I can share these little acts of obeying God with my brothers and sisters from Kaohsiung. God is here and He is leading the way for me.

Mission Trip to Cambodia, 2012

We will be leaving for Phnom Penh, Cambodia, today and be there from January 13-20, 2012. There are twelve of us from the seminary and two other young people from two different Free Methodist churches in the area. We will help with the teaching ministry of House of Love, a children's center administered by the Free Methodist Church of Cambodia in the outskirts of the city. Please pray for God's inspiration as I lead this group of mostly graduate students. I look forward to God's surprises as we discover new things from this experience. Pray that as I share from the Bible, the participants will see God's heart for the world. We need your intercession.

Through the Eyes of my Daughter

"Girl power rocks!" Carmen says this line very proudly. She tells me the time she played basketball at school and her team of all girls defeated another team composed of both boys and girls. She recounts this story with great joy. I could not help but smile at my 10-year-old daughter's enthusiasm.

A week ago, we were in the Philippines for a two-week vacation. We visited many places and had a great time with family, my side of the family. Although, most of my siblings are living comfortable lives, we still were able to meet poor Filipino people. At several occasions, our children, Jacob and Carmen, saw beggars on the streets, played with the children of our house helpers, interacted with random children from restaurants and other public places. When we came back to Taiwan, Carmen decided to do something about what she saw in the Philippines. She started to organize a Girls' Club at school with the objective of helping the poor children of the world. She made a brochure (by long hand) inviting her girl friends at school to join her and start different fund-raising projects so that at the end they can send the money to the poor, starting with Filipino children this year.

Of course, I am very proud of my daughter. Today, she tells me that they are starting to make origami and sell these to people at their school, Morrison Christian Academy (MAK). Sarah and I try to encourage her, and I suggested to her that they can send their money so some Filipino children I personally know. She smiles and gives her consent. Girl power does rock.