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.
Maranatha 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.
Another 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!
On 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.
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.
This 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.
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.
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.
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!
It has been several weeks since we put out an update – here is a quick rundown of our October.
We have had several wonderful single day meetings with Grace Baptist Church in Greenville, PA; Birdford Baptist Church in Glennville, GA; and Hope Baptist Church in Winder, GA. At the last meeting we had the special pleasure of seeing a young lady surrender her life to missionary service. It is wonderful to see God at work!
A couple of missions conferences were also on our itinerary. In Williamstown, New Jersey we were a part of the first mission conference held by Open Bible Baptist Church in over 40 years. This church has a vision to support missionaries in every country of the world, and we certainly hope and pray they can reach this goal. Trinity Baptist Church of Centerville, GA also allowed us to be a part of their annual conference. We were glad for the chance to present our work just down the road from Nikki’s family home in Central Georgia.
Now that we are in Georgia, we have had the opportunity to meet our new nieces! Ella and Alley were born just a few weeks ago and we have really enjoyed getting acquainted with them. Although they were born a month and half early, we thank the Lord that they are healthy and at home.
A Praise: Several new churches have voted to partner with us and take us on for support – we are well on our way to our goal of 50% by the end of the year!
It is always exciting for us to see the different and creative methods that local churches are using to reach their communities. Some of the greatest conferences we have been in have combined the emphasis on world evangelism with a strong emphasis on local and personal evangelism. Our latest conference, in Beallsville (pronounced “Bellsville”), Ohio, certainly characterized that.
After several nights of rousing preaching and singing at their mission conference, we joined with the people of East Sunsbury Baptist Church for the annual Pumpkin Festival Parade in a nearby town. The church had decorated a float, and we were able to march through the town handing out tracts along the three-mile route. For such a rural area, the turnout for the parade was incredible, and by God’s grace we were able to distribute about 7,000 tracts! Pray that fruit will come out of this time of sowing. We also really appreciated staying with Pastor Jeff Cox and his wonderful family.
We have officially now hit the 6-month mark in our deputation. God has provided bountifully for us, and every need has been supplied. Currently, we have almost 40% of our support pledged from various churches and individuals. We praise God for helping us to get to this point. We are praying earnestly that in the next year, the Lord will allow us to reach 100% of our support. Please labor with us in your prayers for the Cambodian people and for the work God has called us to.
Another week – another conference. September has been such a busy month, but we have been blessed abundantly. Our last meeting was in Downingtown, PA with Faith Community Baptist Church. There was a wonderful spirit all week long, and we thoroughly enjoyed the services. We had the chance to get well acquainted with Pastor and Mrs. Venable, as well as many of the church members, as we preached and ministered in music. Since Downingtown is located in Eastern Pennsylvania, between Lancaster and Philadelphia, we also got to see some of the special sights of the area. A special highlight was visiting Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, as we remember the freedoms our nation stands for.
Our friends Tim and Stephanie Germano help with the youth and music ministry, so we enjoyed the time to catch up with them and see how God is blessing their ministry there. They are preparing to go as missionaries to the Dominican Republic and will be starting deputation next year. It was exciting to share with them the blessings and special experiences we have seen since we began deputation 6 months ago.
We have a big praise: this past week, we heard back from three churches, all pledging to take us on for support! God is proving Himself so faithful and continues to guide us on our way to Cambodia.
acme – the top or higher point; peak; zenith.
Acme, PA is literally on top of the mountain, and the church we were privileged to be with this weekend is the highest spot in Acme. Our sojourn here has been a high spot for us as well. Tired from some very busy weeks and much travelling, a couple days in this peaceful setting has helped our bodies to build back up to 100%. Sunday services with Pastor Haasz and the good people of Mt Zion were a great blessing. God showed Himself powerful, and God’s people showed themselves generous, missions-minded, and very friendly.
By the way – our car is driving much better now with a new clutch. Thanks for all the prayers that went up for us during that adventure. Please continue to pray for our health, safety and strength as we still have two more mission conferences this month!
We often tell people that there is never a dull moment during deputation. This past week was definitely no exception!
Nikki and I spent a wonderful few days with Bethel Baptist Church of Hampton, VA for their missions conference. What a great spirit there was at this meeting! The church was friendly and excited for missions. We spent time explaining our mission to the students in the Christian school from K4 all the way up to the high school. In the church, we were able to minister through preaching and song. God used the amazing generosity of this group of people to provide for many of our needs, including a projector that we can use to show our ministry video in churches without an audio-visual system. Many wonderful friendships were formed with the pastoral staff, our gracious hosts, and the faithful church members. By the end of the conference, all of us were excited for missions for the glory of God!
Next stop was beautiful Huntingdon, PA, in the mountains of rural Central Pennsylvania. Calvary Independent Baptist Church hosted us for their annual missions conference. We once again had the opportunity to speak with the young people in their academy, as well as spend a few minutes with the kindergarten class. Our mission to Cambodia was well received by both young and old. We enjoyed the beautiful area, cooler weather, and the remarkable hospitality of this warm-hearted church. Several church families hosted us for meals, and as always we cherish the opportunity to form relationships with fellow Christians.
Driving over the hills of Pennsylvania proved to be a different matter than just admiring them. Our 13-year old clutch simply couldn’t handle it, and burned out entirely on us. By God’s grace, we broke down close to the small town of Ebensburg, PA rather than by the side of the road somewhere in the woods. We were able to get towed to a local garage and obtain a rental car without too much difficulty. God’s hand was certainly evident in all – the amount we needed for a new clutch, rental car, as well as gas for the rental was provided almost exactly to the dollar by the generous love offering we received from Calvary in Huntingdon. It is wonderful to remember that He knows what is in store and provides before we even know we have a need!
Unexpectedly, our journey this week took a detour to Ohio as we learned that our ministry partners’ baby was coming! While broken down in Ebensburg, we learned that Diana had gone into labor, and we arrived in Youngstown just in time to greet Allatha into the world. We have enjoyed a season of fellowship with the Stivers during this special time, as we prepare to head back to Pennsylvania for another meeting this weekend. September so far has been a busy, yet exciting and joyful month!
Pastor Brooks Grimes was my pastor when I was 7-8 years old, and it has been a blessing to see him and the people of Northview Baptist Church a couple of times this year. This Sunday, we were able to present our ministry and preach to the church. Typically, we show our ministry video, explain a little bit more about our ministry plans, and bring the Bible message the Lord has laid on my heart. This Sunday, however, Pastor Grimes had a special surprise. The first video shown was not our ministry video, but an old VHS recording of the “Patch the Pirate club” singing when I was a 7-year old member. Despite their intimate knowledge of my background, the church gave us a warm and friendly welcome. We can think of no place we would rather spend our Labor Day weekend than among the kind and generous people of God.