BLOG

April Happenings

The past few weeks have been filled up with some great church meetings and special times with friends and family. We kicked off with a week of revival at our home church, spent a weekend in Northern Virginia in a couple of churches, enjoyed a mission conference in South Carolina, and caught the last few days of the Independent Baptist Friends meeting at our alma mater. We have been in Georgia now for a couple of weeks and have been able to preach and share our work in churches throughout the state. We are now just a little over a month away from the baby’s due date, and have one last leg of our journey before we return to Virginia and prepare for his arrival. Please pray for God’s hand on us over this next week as we continue our travels. Also, please praise the Lord for several new supporting churches over the past few weeks – we have now hit the 75% mark! Below are a few pictures from our latest adventures.

Sunday School

Baptist FriendsNikki and Twins

 

 

I Serve a Risen Savior

Easter is a time to remember in a special way many truths about our Savior. We were reminded of who Jesus was and is as we spent Resurrection Sunday at our home church, drinking in the wonderful cantata and soul-stirring messages. Sometimes, however, we don’t realize how blessed we are until we see the plight of many unbelievers.

Wat PrasantidhammaLess than 5,000 people live in the nearby town of Carrollton, VA, yet it is home to a Southeast Asian style Buddhist temple, or wat. Someone had told us it was there, and yesterday we decided to see if the rumor was true. Set on a tiny backroad in this rural community, Wat Prasantidhamma looks like it could have been lifted straight out of a Cambodian or Thai village. There, Buddhist monks are actively practicing their religion and teaching others. We removed our shoes and entered the wat to look around, where we met a friendly monk named Ikeshai. He is Thai, and was happy to tell us about the temple and various events held there. I began to ask him about his religion and his goals. Readily, he explained to us what he believes about dhamma, the cycle of life; the need for self-emptying and inner peace through meditation; and the inevitability of good and evil in our lives. As we pressed him about where he came from and where he is going, he repeatedly told us, “Don’t worry”. The only thing that matters, in his opinion, is the here and now. Although one cannot change fate, they must endeavor to have good thoughts, good speech, and good actions.

ImagesIkeshai was aware of his sin, as he spoke about the bad thoughts and actions we all struggle with. I tried to explain to him the Creator God and the punishment that comes with sin. He believes that we must be emptied of self – which is true. Our souls, however, were not designed to be vacuums. We will be filled with something. Paul put it this way: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…” Galatians 2:20. I told Ikeshai about Easter, and how our risen Savior gives us power over the sin within us and over death. Finally, I challenged him with the thought of eternity compared to the few years we may have on this earth. He did not react much as we shared the truths of the Bible with him, but we hope and pray that he will consider some of these things.

Although I have witnessed to Buddhists before, this was my first experience sharing the Gospel with an Asian Buddhist, and certainly with a Buddhist monk. It highlighted some of the challenges of preaching Christ in a culture with far different beliefs, but as I left I was struck anew by a few things about our Lord:

– God is Alive! Although Ikeshai spoke of the need to venerate the Buddha as a great teacher and enlightened one, he does not know a living God. We cannot take it for granted that God is alive and active in this world. The earth around us and the events in our lives are not just manifestations of dhamma, they are revelations of God’s power and grace! Because of our living Savior and His resurrection power, we too can live eternally. “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen” Revelation 1:18

– God is Love! Again and again, this Buddhist monk stressed how our betterment rests upon our own efforts. If that is the case, we are powerless against the sin that is in our nature. Praise God, He loves us enough to offer forgiveness, victory, and new life. We are grateful just for the opportunity to serve such a God, not to earn merit or achieve His favor, but to show our love in return. He is the only one worthy of our devotion and service.

“Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian; lift up your voice and sing…He lives!”

Day by Day

Monday marked one year of full-time deputation for our family. It seems incredible that it has been that long in one sense, but in another it seems like so much time has elapsed since we left our secular jobs and started off on the road. It is interesting that the Bible rarely speaks to us about how to use our years, but often exhorts us regarding how we spend our days. “So teach us to number our days…” Psalm 90:12. This year of deputation has been made up of many days, many experiences, many challenges, and above all many proofs of God’s mercy and grace.

Cox FamilyAn example of one who used their days well for the Lord was our dear friend, Pastor Jeff Cox. Nikki has known the Cox family since college, and we spent a couple wonderful weeks with them last September around and during their mission conference. After an very unexpected and brief battle with cancer, this choice servant of the Lord went to be with his Lord on the 17th of this month. God graciously allowed us to be at the funeral to honor his memory and see the family. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15. Though it was a time of mourning and grief, it was amazing to consider how many lives this man had touched through his whole-hearted love and service to God. I personally was encouraged to greater dedication by Pastor Cox’s testimony. Thanks to all of you who have been praying and who will continue to pray for the Cox family as they face the challenges ahead.

Gateway Baptist ChurchOur favorite days so often are those we spend in conferences and special meetings with churches. Recently we spent a day with the fine folks of Emmaus Road Baptist Church, right here in Chesapeake. Last week we were up with Gateway Baptist Church in Rising Sun, MD for their mission conference. Pastor David Landers was one of the men who sat on the council that interviewed us for the mission agency and ordination. Once again, he and his wonderful wife were a huge encouragement to us. Another special treat was seeing one of Nikki’s college roommates, now on her way back to her home country of Burma to help with Bible translation there. So often we arrive at a church as strangers and leave feeling like family, and this was no exception. Praise God for days spent with Christian brothers and sisters!

We had another church take us on this week, bringing us almost to the 70% mark on our support! Let’s continue in prayer for the Lord’s work and seek to use each and every day for His glory.

Marching On…

Rhoades FamilyOur mission conference last week at Wayside Baptist Church in Chesapeake was characterized by great fervor, in preaching and in prayer. Every conference is an encouragement to us, but the wonderful spirit at Wayside really gave us a spiritual boost. The people and pastor were very generous and kind to us as well. While there we also got to fellowship with our friends and fellow WWNTBM missionaries the Rhoades family. They are beginning deputation to the field of Guyana, and we thoroughly enjoyed spending some time with them. You can check them out online here.

Family PicThis weekend found us making the trek to Savannah, GA for the Bible Baptist Church mission conference. This is Nikki’s sister and brother-in-laws home church, so not only did we enjoy the Southern hospitality of this church, but also got to babysit our twin nieces for a day! Besides the time with family, we were greatly blessed to meet many church members, present our ministry, and teach the young adult Sunday School class. Finally getting some warm weather was a nice plus, as well. We’ll be heading back up to Virginia for this upcoming weekend and are very excited about our next few meetings. Please pray that the Lord will raise up many more supporting churches between now and our baby’s due date in June. Also, please pray that God will open doors for us in a few more churches in the next few months, as we still have a some open dates.

Church-Planting in Action

Mission BanquetCommunity Baptist Church is a fairly young church. Pastor Gary Ross was sent out by a local church to plant this work in the rural town of Surry, VA, just 9 years ago. Last week, we got to meet this wonderful group of believers at their annual missions conference. It is remarkable to see how God has blessed this church, and how they are now working to further the Gospel themselves. Outstanding preaching, sweet fellowship, and an amazing faith promise made this a week to remember! God has called us to be church-planters, and so seeing this young church thriving and serving the Lord was a huge encouragement to us.

Around the Corner, Around the World

February is the start of the spring “mission conference season”. We have certainly started it off full speed, with several conferences back-to-back. A special blessing is the fact that almost all of our spring conferences are in or near our home area of coastal Virginia.

Penny OfferingMaranatha Baptist in Yorktown, VA is an extremely missions-minded church. Missions Conference is obviously the highlight of their year, and we were greatly privileged to participate in it. We taught and presented our ministry, while also taking part in some fun activities, like the North vs. South penny offering and a very tasty BBQ cook-off. We were blown away by the generosity of this church and the kindness of Pastor Coffey, the staff, and friendly members there.

Sunday SchoolAnother great conference began last Wednesday in Elizabeth City, NC, just over an hour south of our home base in Suffolk, VA. Pastor Pease and the people of Faith Baptist Church were so friendly and welcoming to us, we felt like we were part of the family there. Once again, we had the opportunity to testify of the Lord’s goodness in our lives, share our burden for Cambodia, preach, and teach some of the young people. Time out on visitation and wonderful fellowship with our kind hosts, fellow missionaries, and church members rounded out a full and exciting week. We are fired up to begin yet another local conference this Wednesday!

OdometerOn our way back from Elizabeth City, we passed another milestone – our Altima now has over 200,000 miles on it! More than 30,000 of those have been since we began deputation 11 months ago, so we’re working it pretty hard. Please keep our vehicle in your prayers – we believe the Lord has His protective hand on it. Also, thanks to Maranatha Baptist Church we were able to make some much needed repairs, so it’s running like a champ. God is good, and serving Him is an honor. He has truly cared for all our needs, and we praise Him.

Drop Ins

As missionaries, we spend most of our time in scheduled meetings with different churches. Sometimes, however, we will have an open service, and so we will “drop in” on a local church for the chance to worship with them and meet them.

Phillips FamilyThis past Sunday, we had a wonderful scheduled meeting in Rutledge, GA, but this Wednesday was open. We decided to drop in on a church in Snellville, GA. It’s pretty much a given that if we visit unannounced, the pastor will not be there. Last night was no exception, although the Lord had a special surprise in store for us. As we walked in the door we thought we recognized some familiar faces, only to find out that it was fellow missionaries to Cambodia, Chad and Linda Phillips! We met them initially on our survey trip in 2011 and had not seen them since. They are currently on furlough and we were so encouraged to see their report of God’s working in Cambodia and to spend some time in fellowship.

Life as a missionary can be full of unexpected surprises. We rejoice in the Lord giving us this special opportunity. Please pray for the Phillips as they continue their furlough travels and for us as we travel back up to Virginia for some meetings this weekend.

What You Feed Me I Will Swallow…

Mission banquets are a fun aspect of many mission conferences. We get to sample dishes from many different countries while fellowshipping with pastors, church members, and other missionaries. The mission banquet this weekend at Calvary Baptist Church in Colonial Heights, VA seemed at first to be fairly typical.

Egg

Then they announced the balut eating contest. For those of you who are not familiar with balut, it is a popular snack in the Phillipines and other places in Southeast Asia, such as Cambodia. It consists of a boiled duck egg with a partially developed duck embryo inside. About 20 people – including Pastor Haskett, many church members, other missionaries, and myself – participated in the contest. Brother Edgar Landingin, a Filipino missionary to Cambodia, instructed me in the finer points of balut eating. It was certainly a memorable experience, although no doubt only the first of many.

Balut aside, we had a wonderful missions weekend with this church that has a strong burden for missions. Many members had actually been to Cambodia on missions trips before and had a great interest in our work there. We were blessed and encouraged greatly. Please do keep us in your prayers as we battle the flu that is going around.

For those of you who do the Twitter thing, we just got a Twitter account. You can follow us @browns2cambodia if you would like.

New Year Milestones

We have a few exciting blessings to celebrate in 2013:

First of all, we are officially debt-free! The Scripture says in Romans 13:8a, “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another:” We are very happy that now we can fulfill that verse and also begin saving for our passage expenses.

Support Level

Another exciting development is that we have now topped 50% of our support. We are humbled and joyful at how quickly this amount has come in and have high hopes for what will happen in 2013. Please pray that this will be the year in which we reach 100%!

We have not been quite as busy over the holiday season but have still managed to be in churches in Florida, Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina. God is always good, and we are looking forward to our many upcoming mission conferences.

New Hope

The recent election points out the tendency we have to look to men for our hope. Without doubt, we live in a world grasping for hope anywhere. New Hope Baptist Church is the name of the church that I interned at in Cambodia, and is also the name of the wonderful church in Salisbury, North Carolina that we spent this past Sunday with. That name highlights the wonderful hope we have in Christ, and the folks at New Hope are excited about getting that message out! We were so encouraged by the zeal of Pastor Worley and the many friendly people we met. They helped us along our way, and we are pleased to partner with them.

We had another special treat this Wednesday – the rare opportunity to worship at our home church. Having such a faithful and loving church family behind us encourages us greatly. We thoroughly enjoyed hearing our pastor preach again and fellowshipping with our Christian brothers and sisters.

Please be in prayer for Nikki as she is still dealing with some of the morning sickness aspect of pregnancy. The next few weeks will be very busy, and we look forward to what the Lord has in store for us!