by Don and Kathy Williams, Thailand
Pastor Gideon leads two Free Methodist churches in Koh Ksachtunlea, Cambodia. He preaches in the morning at the Light and Life FM Church East and in the afternoon at the Light and Life FM Church West. He travels by motorcycle from home and between churches many kilometers on roads that resemble driving on dry riverbeds more than they do any road with which we’d be familiar. He has to take a couple of ferry rides on what is no more than two canoe-like boats bound together with planks of wood that, believe it or not, can carry and transport one car and many motorcycles and walk-on passengers.
When we were with Gideon recently we asked him to share prayer requests with us. Gideon’s first request was the most compelling, especially coming from a parent’s perspective. It flowed more like a story as the translator spoke, rather than as a prayer request. The translator conveyed how God had called Gideon into ministry and shared the tremendous sense of blessing it has been for him to serve the Lord. Gideon spoke of his children and then transitioned to share how providing for them is a challenge. Pastor Gideon told how his youngest child can no longer attend public school, which is supposed to be free but isn’t. His daughter wants to finish high school, but there isn’t the $15 a week needed for travel expenses, food, supplies, and school uniforms.
The translator passed along how Pastor Gideon’s children wish their father didn’t have to give so much of himself and his time to the church, which pays him so little and seemingly causes all their financial woes. The words broke my heart. As parents, when there didn’t seem to be a way to pay for our children’s college education over the years, the hope the Lord has given us – pressed down and overflowing – was exploding in our hearts. God’s grace and provision for us was the comfort and encouragement we were compelled to share with Gideon.
To us, Gideon’s other prayer requests paled in comparison but to him were important to share. A toilet beside the church, an outhouse sort-of-affair, needs to be moved and replaced, as well a fence erected around the property’s perimeter to help delineate and ensure no one encroaches, claiming land belonging to the congregation.
Sure there’s a toilet and a fence that needs to be built, but we couldn’t stop thinking about a life under construction and the incredible opportunities afforded to a young person who graduates from high school in Cambodia.