Thursday, April 09, 2009

Easter Greetings from Cambodia

This is a special year when Easter coincides with the three day Khmer New Year festival. It will be quite a celebration. The rains are just starting to bless us with some cooling in the early evenings. In Cambodia we call this time of year when the rains return as the New Year because it marks that the time to begin growing rice is here. Farmers are out harrowing the fields and those with some irrigation are already starting to flood the paddies with the little remaining water in the ponds.

Community Health and Agricultural Development (CHAD) just had a major evaluation with our partners from the Methodist Church in Finland. Lots of good feedback! A new story about prison outreach ministry is available. Thanks for reading. Thanks, also, for your continued support through prayers, visits and financial contributions.

Happy Khmer New Year! Happy Passover! and Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Prison outreach ministry

Last time I was home in California, one of my partner churches in Bakersfield gave me two suitcases of health kits prepared by the VBS kids to bring back to Cambodia. During a recent visit to Kompong Chhnang for a Medical Outreach Clinic, I shared the kits with Rev. Ean Hun and his wife Pastor Sophean. They were very pleased to receive them in support of the prison outreach ministry of the church in Kompong Chhnang. They shared a few stories with me about the significance of this ministry.

The prison in Kompong Chhnang has 280 men in terrible conditions. Rev. Hun said that the men have to sleep in two-hour shifts because there is a shortage of beds. There is also a shortage of food, resulting in swollen bellies and a prevalence of itchy skin rashes due to insufficient soap and hygiene supplies. Rev. Hun has been visiting the prisoners, and, when available, bringing food (basically only men who have relatives who visit have food to eat), soap and detergent for washing clothes. He has been leading a Bible study and recently distributed 12 bibles to men who have been participating.

He was very pleased to have the health kits sent from Bakersfield and shared them with the men with whom he is working. We talked a bit about his hope to be able to provide soap, detergent (for washing clothes) and liniment oil to all of the men, at another point in the future. He also hopes to establish a library of Khmer language literature for the men to use during their one hour time each day where they could have access to such a collection of books.

Recently, one of the prisoners Rev. Hun has been working with was released. Rev. Hun has invited him to stay at the church and to lead a nearby church group without a pastor.

This is a wonderful partnership that has come out of the Bakersfield generosity. I am so pleased that we could support the outreach of the Cambodian Christians in this prison ministry in this way.