Uncomfortable with the new normal

Greetings from the heat of SE Texas.   I could be saying SE Asia because the temp and humidity is quite familiar to our life in Cambodia. While the weather conditions are familiar, new normal is not.  For me new normal is is not comfortable.

There is a remarkable tension for us in being grateful to our Lord for new and very meaningful work of church restart/rejuvenation at Westway BC in Huntsville.  I certainly remain humbled at what I see God unfolding in this place and these wonderful people. The tension comes to me as I ponder the enormous difficulty being faced by our teams in Cambodia as they continue in intense poverty brought on by continued Covid related restrictions.  We so long to be at their side day by day to encourage and lift their weary hearts.  It seems so wrong to have the comfort of our homes when our beloved family there frequently goes without food.

Then the tension flips as we see the developing faith of our Cambodian teams, the trust and hope they have in Christ and each other as brothers and sisters in the Lord in spite of their trying conditions.

We love the people in both places.

Daily it seems we search for new alerts that travel might open for us to make a return to Cambodia to be the encouragement our friends so long to experience.  How many times can they say, “we want you to come mom and dad” and we have to say “soon”?

I feel the days passing by.  And Zoom, while we do this nearly weekly with our Cambodian families, is an extremely poor substitute for real touch. They and we long to embrace and move forward with the Gospel spreading plans now delayed since January 2020.

We continue with events and desire to schedule more.   Always well received and helpful when we do them here in the US, they provide both education for those here and a source for selling the goods our teams make in Cambodia and send to us to sell.  For several it has  been significant income over the 18 months.  I believe Cambodia has been set back easily 50 years.  We continue to send financial support needed for subsistence living during Covid restrictions.

The church, not permitted to meet and assemble, is struggling to find underground methodologies. We coach them in the ways adopted in so many places where the church has been underground for generations.

We will go back.   If God will open the door we will go back.  And we will continue our work at Westway as God has given us those people to shepherd.

For your continued interest, prayers, and support, we express our most sincere appreciation.

May we see you soon (in some way other than Zoom). Face to face would be great.

God bless you

Not Exactly Enough

This morning I wake and feel heaviness in my heart.  Our sweet brothers and sisters in Cambodia are experiencing starvation in some places due to the extreme lockdown due to Covid outbreak. Lockdown is so tight that people cannot leave their homes or where they were visiting when the lockdown went into effect.  The lockdown hit during a period of significant population movement for a national holiday, Khmer New Year.  People are stuck.

One egg a dayFood is gone from some markets.  Income has evaporated as workers can’t get back to work. Starvation is actually now being reported.  Even in the city, some folks have 1 egg a day and some have rice.

Saturday night I received a call from a young woman, the first girl we rescued.  She has never asked us for anything.  We have stayed in contact with her after her rescue and during her recovery program.  We were invited to her wedding over a year ago.  She became a believer and has been tracking well.  Saturday she called me on FB Messenger and told me she had not eaten in 2 weeks.  She and her husband were visiting her sister in a remote village and were now trapped until the lockdown is ended.  No access to food.  No way for us to get some to her – yet.

And she is 7 months pregnant.

But God!   Some of my favorite words.  Pray that God opens the door for food to arrive at their feet.  That God would make a way and be glorified in doing it.

But feeling sad is not exactly enough.  Food is not exactly enough.  More than anything I am asking for prayer.  That will be exactly enough.

Christ was moved to act out of feelings of compassion and we are to be imitators of Christ (Ephesians 5:1).  Feeling bad is the reaction that is to lead us to act.  Christ frequently acted out of compassion.  There is no action you can take that I can point you to EXCEPT PRAYER.  Prayer is the primary action in this case.  Don’t let the feelings be wasted.  Act in prayer.   Please pray fervently and we will see what God will do.

Thank you.

 

Yes, Child exploitation in the US is on the rise.

©271 EAK MOTO/shutterstock.comWe are hearing more about human-trafficking in the US due to the flow of lives across our southern border, many are children who are accompanied to the border from the south and are abandoned as soon as the “adult” transporting them can flee into the US.

This is human trafficking:

“the unlawful act of transporting or coercing people in order to benefit from their work or service, typically in the form of forced labor or sexual exploitation.”

The purpose of this post is not political.  It is protective.  The children being exploited as “tickets” to cross into the US in a presumed family are frequently exploited sexually along the way to our border and then abandoned without education, income, safety or guardians once they get across our border.  Such children are then prime for another round of exploitation after arriving in the US.

Be against human-trafficking.  For the safety of the children,  be against it.  Don’t pretend it isn’t happening or is just a handful of cases.  It is dominant and the success of exploiting children in this way increases the number of people who do it.

Stop it!

Join us in the battle.  Invite us to hold a Human Trafficking Awareness Event in you church, school, business or neighborhood.

You alone can make a difference.

 

Same same, but different.

“Same same but different” is a phrase used in the markets in Asia.  When you want something red but they only have blue,  the seller says “same same but different”.   Or if you want something in a large size but they only have small,  again, “same same but different”.  The sale is more important than you getting what you want.

While 2021 is almost upon us, 12 new months, the same as any year, let’s pray for a big difference and not so much “same same”.

Angkor Jewellry
Facebook: Made27

For six years we developed outreach and strategies for strengthening the local believing community so that their testimony grew in impact.  We returned to the US confident that the Lord had begun a good work.  Then Covid brought the strangest and strongest challenge – and we were concerned.

Our ability to sell jewelry which provides support to the brass artisan group ceased.  We could not schedule human trafficking awareness events where we also sell goods. Import of jewelry stopped.

We are now scheduling events again.  Contact Pete for info.  Engage your group in this serious battle for freedom.

The school was forced to close by government edict even with no Covid infections in the students or staff.  It remained closed for 7 months.  This could have been devastating.  In fact for many businesses it was.  But our compassionate supporters stepped up and helped with sustaining donations to insure the school could hold its staff and continue to work outside the school with the kids and families.  What a blessing.

The school has focused on becoming self-sustaining and the closure brought the tuition income to zero instantly.  The committed staff volunteered to take a 50% pay cut just to stay engaged and our donors stepped in.  What a compassionate step.

Now, we are back to regrowing the businesses and the school.  We are looking to expand and start another school.  We are looking to return to assist.  Even if we cannot return permanently, we plan to return to advance the work.

Covid has changed the world.

If you have been engaged with us through financial support in 2020 or earlier, we say thank you.  You have kept us advancing.

If you would like to engage for 2021, please consider well the accomplishments that we expect for 2021 and beyond and make your tax deductible gift here.  IncurableFanatics donor info

Join with us for 2021.  Give to your church first, if you want to give to additional causes, please consider this.

Disrupted Lives

When plans are disrupted.  When the ability to plan around those disruptions goes away.  When that inability extends on and on and…….on.

Familiar?  Who isn’t.

At risk. 

When these things happen in a community already brittle because the default setting of life is not rooted in the Gospel, a disruption of this magnitude is vast in breadth and depth.   Children are frequently lost in the wake or disruption, “trampled” by those who should care for them.  I am not being dramatic.  This is real.  This is the rolling effect of Covid across our nation and around the world.

Yes, I agree, it is tragic that people suffer and some die of Covid, but there is an even more widespread form of suffering – Abuse.  Child abuse.

In our area of work for the last 6 years, Cambodia, the level of Covid infections TOTAL is 275.  Recovered total is 274.  There is 1 active case and no deaths.  I cannot explain how they have escaped what the rest of the world has suffered but, I can speak to the rapid rise in threat to child safety and the rise in the awful things adults with spare time do to vulnerable kids.  While the infections from Covid are low in Cambodia the rolling effect of child trauma has dramatically and quietly increased.  The unofficial reports are the wave hitting kids is huge.

We are asking the Lord about a return to the work we thought was turning a corner.  In reality, it has turned some very critical corners.  But now there are new “corners” to face.  Please join us in praying about what is next that He would have us do.

Join us in the battle to claim new ground and reclaim areas that have reverted back.  Pray the power of God will help those lead workers to persevere.

If you have already supported your local church and have it in your heart to do more, please consider a tax deductible donation to Incurable Fanatics.

New Vision School extends huge THANK YOU

One of the works of Incurable Fanatics has been to train and empower local leaders, those who suffer with the bad and rejoice with the good right in their own neighborhood, to stop the circumstances of child trafficking themselves.  Say NO, and then put action to the words.

At New Vision School Cambodia this is what these young leaders are doing.  Changing their own lives and building a better future for the children in their community.

Covid 19 hit and the tuition stopped because jobs stopped.  Jobs stopped because factories closed.  Many schools went bankrupt in short order.  Many closed and terminated teachers.  At New Vision School, the work is not just about the classroom.  It is about changing their world.  So the teachers went on 1/2 salary but kept working so they could keep track of the children, their safety and provide at home lessons.  All while no tuition was being received.

But generous donors stepped up to form a bridge to help them continue on.  And they have.

And they want to say thank you.  Watch the short video.  It is a real THANK YOU.

If you would like to support the work, tax deductible donations are received DONATE HERE

 

Watch VIDEO LINK: New Vision School expresses huge THANK YOU to donors

Seeing the real message of half-time SB24

Trying to make sense of Super Bowl 54 halftime “entertainment”.

Because of the value of all human life, because of my view of women inspired by God’s Word, because I have worked in human trafficking prevention and recovery and because I have seen the entry doors to brothels with children and young slaves inviting perpetrators of evil to enter in, because I know that these invitations lead to the decay and destruction of dignity, equality, honor, respect and even perceptions of the value of an individuals life; I am appalled by the halftime show of Super Bowl 54.

Last night, for the little I watched, I was peering at the “designed to entice entry to the brothel” value of women and young (very young) girls. I have seen where this goes and it is destructive to life. It certainly debases women and emboldens an objectifying view of all women.

How many men watching in bars, homes and even in their churches last night, were pushed toward lustful thoughts? How many let those thoughts run unchecked?

It hurt my heart to see it elevated as “entertainment”.

Ephesians 5:3 my dear friends is so fitting.

Dads. Next time such a display comes to your TV take your sons and daughters from the room.

Dads. Tell the NFL, and Fox Sports you would not want your daughters on that stage (even if they were paid huge amounts of money – does the dignity of your wife or daughter have a price tag?). You don’t want them aspiring to be stars of openly suggestive behavior. That is well below the design of God for women. And this is happening at a time when there is acute awareness in the US thru #metoo.

Dads, what is your life displaying to your children?

Last night, I had to get up and do dishes. My heart aches for the lost view and value of purity in the world today.

Dads, lead the charge to restore it in your home.

You can join us in this fight by supporting our drive to grow awareness to the pressures resulting in human trafficking and the drive to end it- here, there, anywhere!  DONATE

Look what you are doing!

When God decides he is moving, look out he will exceed your expectations.

New Vision School
New Vision School

If you support us, read here about the extraordinary model for spreading the Gospel God dropped on us.  If, after reading this you want to be a part of this extraordinary model, you can DONATE here.

Our intention in Cambodia was to be seed planters and ground cultivators.  We never set out to be harvesters.   That does not mean we were not evangelistic.  Quite the contrary.   The Gospel has always been the primary motivator but assisting the local people harvest has always been and continues to be the vision of Incurable Fanatics.  We do not report “decisions”.  We report disciple makers and disciple making environments.  Functions and people ministering to their friends and neighbors.  Planting, growing and harvesting among themselves.  This was the vision God gave to us.

Wow!   He has exceeded our vision to make sure his vision goes on.

Our role has shifted from instigators to planters to mentors to coaches to advisors to consultants  and now resourcers and idea planters.  We remain connected and available but constant presence is now in their hands and the blossom of this fruit looks delightful.

At the school, affectionately called ”Purple School” in the community, staff are discipled 5-6 days per week in ongoing biblical training written and used by Debbie with the first staff group.  The teachers then impart that biblical foundation into a growing group of students now exceeding 260.  And that training is happening 5 days a week 8-10 hours each day in each subject.  The kids are in school all day because their parents are at work in garment factories 10 hours a day.  School is their safe place.

Angkor Jewellry
Facebook: Made27

The level and intensity of discipleship is Thank previously unknown to me.  It truly is a Mighty Work of God.

We also work in the community with local believers to advance micro-businesses so that they can secure more reasonable income.  A more reasonable income means they can afford some tuition for their children and this in turn grows a self-sustaining school.

Join us in the next phase as look to start the same school and business program in another at-risk community.  Help us help THEM deliver the life saving FREEDOM offer of the Gospel. DONATE here, tax deductible.

Reruns, repeats can be great!

Five years ago we set out on a journey to change lives with the Gospel as the essential tool in our tool box and broken education and job environments the workplace that was sending children at a horrendous rate into human trafficking – not by their choice, but as slaves.  It took us two years to gain sufficient context and language understanding to see exactly how God had prepared us to bring transforming opportunities to those affected and to do it so that God is the one who is glorified when the captives are set free.

Now we have seen his transformation take shape.  We have seen local leaders rise up and take charge and bring change.  The joy that surrounds these “change managers” who understand that education and job opportunities alone are only the beginning, that real change only occurs with the Gospel, these are the folks who will change their world.

We are merely their mentors. (Read Isaiah 61)

We are eager to see this movement grow.  But to do it we need financial seed to get more classrooms opened and hopefully new schools started.  Each classroom modestly equipped, staff trained and started.  We have a financial, model now proven, in the first school and want to repeat it to create a dynamic interacting brotherhood of schools all focused on the Gospel.

We have three driving directives:
1.  Glorify God
2.  Teach about God
3.  Witness about God

Each of these gets flooded daily into the staff and student of the school.  It is 8-10 hours a day of discipleship into newly trained teachers who in turn witness into the lives of the local children who also hear and live in the Gospel environment 8-10 hours every day of the week.  Disciples making disciples who witness in their community.

#purpleschool

Here is a picture from the front of Purple School.  It is the first and now clearly demonstrated model of a school established to be self-sustaining and it is growing rapidly both in enrollment and in influence.

Now, we have been offered another site to start another school using the same model.

It takes seed funding to make this happen.  We need deposits, desks, chairs and marker boards.  Supplies and start-up staffing costs.  The model is designed to result in self-sustainability inside of 2 years.  The first school is well ahead of the target.  We have learned a lot.  We have demonstrated a lot.  And the reputation has now resulted in invitations to start new schools in communities where children suffer both financial and educational poverty and therefore are susceptible to human trafficking.  The work we are advancing is a game changer.  The people we work with are community changers.  They are all in with the power of the Gospel.

Consider being a sponsor of this work.  All donations are tax deductible.  DONATE HERE 

Share this link with your friends.  Tell them to join you and get on board.

For short term work projects, contact us.

Ok, I admit it……

I have lost a big piece of my heart.  Hopefully only temporarily.  Or perhaps I have found that a piece of me has been deposited in hundreds of young people whose destiny has been redirected in the work of God for them.

kids love back
Kids love back and they have no idea what could have been.

Oh my!  What could have been that likely for them now will not be.  The future for many of these kids and their families has been diverted by God intervening to establish something for their benefit and long-term growth.

And Debbie and I have had five years to witness and participate in the move.

For a farmer, it is the seed that bares fruit.  It is what is inside the seed that brings forth the crop.  Fertilizer does not yield fruit.  Irrigation does not yield fruit.  Tending to the weeds and chaff does not yield fruit.   Only the seed has the power to yield fruit, the rest is just assistance.  God is bringing forth the fruit!

For us, we have been like the fertilizer or the field tenders who pull out weeds.  Carefully we have instructed, mentored and showed the way to a new generation of “field tenders”; but this next group of farmers are home grown and have risen up from among the people to whom they will now lead.

We will depart Cambodia to assume a different kind of role with these young leaders.  We will still advise but now from a distance.  To truly take hold of the opportunities and conditions of their country, to rise into leadership so that the work becomes self-sustaining and self-perpetuating, we have to step back.

I confess that this is very hard for us.  Not that we lack confidence in those now leading but because we have laid ourselves out without holding back for five years.  The work has consumed and enriched us simultaneously.  We have found new weaknesses in ourselves and new strength in God as we lean into an lay hold of the Truth of his plan.  Stepping back means not seeing daily people we love.  Not soaking in the hugs of children who demonstratively love on us even more than we have loved on them.

The time has come to watch the harvest field grow its own crop.  Time to see those who have been shown how to lead be given the opportunity to lead.

We aren’t disappearing from the work.  We are merely stepping into roles that let those with talent, dedication and now experience assume the roles God has for them.  Leading their own village work and changing their own communities.

We are NOT EXITING the work.  Please stay with us and say what God will do next.  We have one new school site already ready to assemble.  Site selected, now we just need the seed finances to get it moving to self-sustaining and perpetuating.  JOIN us in this next adventure.  DONATE HERE

Stay tuned in for what we are calling the “PURPLE SCHOOL PROJECT”.  Your tax deductible donations will help us repeat the process we have begun.