138 William Street, Parry Sound, ON
Missionaries

Steve and Andrée-Anne Williams

Crossworld Missions

Cambodia

 

May 2020

As our regular tuk tuk driver dropped us off at home this week he said with a smile: "So glad you hired me today, now I can buy food!" His words broke my heart. For one there's a savings bank account to help for the rainy days, for another, a daily meal depends on another's ability to offer a job.
In our last newsletter, we started to share about the impact of the virus in our city. The longer we live here, the more we observe poverty first hand. A recent news article stated that the tourism industry provides 80% of employment in our region. But with borders closing, and the whole world being halted, our Siem Reap streets have become empty and our tourist attractions look like ghost towns. This is countless people going jobless. 

See the pictures below? On the left Steve photographed Sophea and I in January on the hopping "Pub street". You can see it still bustling with hungry tourists looking for food and entertainment. Last week I took the picture on the right of the same street. Restaurants are closed and roped off representing thousands of people now without work and suffering families.

What does not change?: God and His plans

Unchanging is Jesus' commission to make disciples of all nations, and His promise to be with us till the end of time (Matt 28 18-20)
For us in Cambodia it looks like a continued focus to pray for opportunities to love in truth and deed in His name and to point people to Him for salvation and healing. We continue to be burdened for those in communities at risk of exploitation and those who have already survived it. 

What changes?: human plans and timing

This season feels a lot like an 'in between' since our IMAGO hotel plans are on hold, but we have come up with ideas that we hope will help care for our community in Jesus' name. Recently we invested our time in building a chicken coop and planting a large garden. We figured that eggs and produce can be shared with families in need and provide a means to reach out to our community with love in practical ways. Who knows, this could become a job providing small business too?
Pictures clockwise: Planting vegetable seeds on Good Friday in one of our three garden plots, our new cheeky friends, and Steve installing the roof on the chicken coop.  
 

Altars, spirits and a greater God

Upon signing the lease for our new home in January, we requested that all the altars, for spirit worship, be removed from the home. 3 spirit altars were removed inside the house, but the garden spirit house had remained. This was heavy on my heart, but removing it was a difficult request to ask our landlords as the spirit who allegedly inhabits this altar is responsible for the fertility and care of the land.  

Early this month I shared with my landlord that we follow the Lord Jesus, and for this reason, I gently requested that the garden altar be removed. She hesitated at first, but agreed after discussing it with her husband. A few days later, they arrived on our property with offerings and incense to burn in order to appease the spirit who undoubtedly would be disrupted by the removal of it's altar. After offerings were made, the altar was taken away.

We are grateful for the removal, but we would also like to request your prayers regarding the prosperity of our land and our neighbourhood. Cambodians often believe that angry spirits are the cause of misfortune, so we pray that our landlords would be blessed, and our request would not be interpreted as having angered a spirit and caused misfortune. Also, since the spirit is responsible for the fertility of the land, we pray for a plentiful harvest to share with our neighbours. Would this not be a great testament to the greater power of our Lord? We would love your prayers in this.
In all this, Jeremiah 29 has been on my mind:

Verse 5 "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce." 
Verse 7 "Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
One of my greatest joys in isolation has been mango season! Steve saved mango season by coming up with a system to water our hurting mango tree, look at the harvest! We gather about this many mangoes every 3 days. 
So a weekend breakfast in our home looks like this:
Mango pancakes, mango muffins, mango smoothie, and of course mango on the side :) 

We had the lovely opportunity to share mango baking with our neighbours and landlords on Easter weekend. We told them we were celebrating the death and resurection of the Lord Jesus.
 
 

Will you pray with us?

  • We've started to make connections with other ministry workers who are offering food relief help. Some are donating food through Cambodian churches, others are donating food to unemployed individuals out of their home and sharing the Gospel. One of our new connections has already seen a young Cambodian lady commit her life to Jesus a couple weeks after receiving a food box from a local church! Praise God! It is an answer to the request I sent you last month that Covid-19 would provide opportunities to make Jesus known. Will you pray for clarity regarding the role that we can play in this and in ministering to our community? And of course for many more to turn to Jesus.
  • We also asked you to pray for favour with the government as we register our business. We're glad to report that Steve was successful at getting us officially registered with the business department  and we've received our work permits. Thank you for praying. We are still in the works with the tax department registrations and there seems to be some complications/delays there.
  • Will you pray for the fruitfulness of our garden and chickens in order to have practical ways to reach out to our neighbours.
  • Finally, I, Andrée-Anne, would really appreciate prayers regarding anxiety I have been experiencing. Certainly, I am being led to grow in greater dependency upon God.
Thank you for reading!

March 2020

Keep trusting
the One who keeps you trusting

- John Piper-
Covid-19 Impact

Thank you! Many of you who have inquired about our situation in Cambodia. I'm happy to report that Steve and I are both healthy and so far the people in our immediate circles have been OK.

I've found it challenging to write a newsletter. We do not want to be alarmists, but we know that many of you care to know the reality of our situation. The Corona virus has brought a lot of confusion, and because of control over the media, we don't get all the facts. As of now, Cambodia only has one clinic equipped to test for the virus in Phnom Penh, and hospitals are not prepared to care for the sick. There are reports of the most modern hospitals in Cambodia refusing to take patients with Covid-19 symptoms either because of fear or lack of available care. Even though many Cambodians have contracted the virus, the media has been focusing on exposing foreigners with the virus (non-Cambodians). Because of this, some Cambodians feel that foreigners are to be avoided. A teammate in another region reported being shunned at the markets. Then when she was walking home, children on the street pointed their finger at her and yelled: "Corona! Corona!"
To protect themselves against non-Cambodians, this sign on a business says they are closed in English, but in the Khmer language, it says they are open as usual.

I have certainly felt mild angst to be seen as a disease as oppose to a person. I would encourage you to love your Asian friends in special ways at this time, as they may feel a similar or worse angst in this moment in North America.
So what does that mean for our daily reality?

As children of God, when life is derailed, it's always good to remind ourselves: "God knew this was coming all along"

Even in the instability, there is great opportunity to keep looking to Jesus and pointing others who are living in fear to Him as well. Our security isn't in our government and health care systems, but in God! The solid rock.
 
For a personal treat I went to the nail salon 2 weeks ago. As they were shaping my nails, the ladies spoke of fear and anxiety regarding Covid-19. I said that when they were afraid, they should ask the Lord Jesus for peace because He gives it generously. I was thrilled that one of the young ladies engaged with me: "I've heard of Jesus but no one teaches me about Him!" I encouraged her to start talking to Him. I hope to see her again and continue the conversation.  

How about impact on ministry?

It's a time of active reflection. When we were in Canada, we were eager to share with you our excitement about the IMAGO missional freedom hotel. I want to re-iterate that what we did not know, God knew, and now we are clearly seeing that this isn't the right time to establish a hotel. Even before the current border closing with America and Europe, one of Corona's major destructive impacts has been on the tourism market in Asia. The streets of Siem Reap are empty, and many hotels and restaurants are struggling financially and even closing. It makes no business sense to get started at this time. Only the Lord knows when tourists will be back to enjoy the treasures that Cambodia and the rest of Asia has to offer.   

Stepping stones with open hands

Our time isn't God's time. There may be stepping stones towards the realization of the IMAGO hotel project.

In order to take wise business and ministry steps, we've been getting to know Siem Reap, we meet and network with other ministry workers to feel out the ministry pulse of the region.

Some things do keep moving forward

While we actively wait on the Lord for clarity and leading, Steve continues with the business registration process with the government and tax department. He also is in the process of applying for new visas and work permits for us.

This month, I have had the opportunity to complete the second level certificate in Narrative Focused Trauma Care at The Allender Center. This program focuses on engaging stories of trauma with care.  
Life in the daily:
People to learn from: These guys are a few steps ahead of us. We are standing on the near future site of a welding vocational training center and workshop with individuals who seek to provide employment in communities at risk and share the truth of the Lord's good news. 
Steve as he considers new butchers in our new city
A great joys has been to reconnect with my friend Sophea since our return from Canada.
 
 
Will you pray with us?
  • Praise God for surrent good health
  • For many ministry workers, may Covid-19 be an opportunity to better make Him known.
  • Clarity and direction in ministry. 
  • Favour with government offices for the registration of the business. 
 

February 2020

God in the details

Two weeks after the beginning of our search for a home, we were negotiating a lease with a potential new landlord. It was the day before our deadline to find a home, because our lease in Phnom Penh is ending soon. The house to which we were about to commit felt slightly overpriced for the market, and it needed some TLC. Still, it had enough positives for us to believe we could make it a home for a season.
In the search for a home we had prayed for the Lord to lead us to a neighbourhood where we could bring the light of the Gospel, and enough space to host people in our home. We had other desires, but we held them loosely:

  • We hoped for a yard, and a space to have a small garden. I was really hoping for some fruit trees on the property. specifically, a mango tree and banana plants were on my heart.
  • Steve was hoping for a place to set up a basketball net.
That day, as we were sitting down with our potential new landlords discussing a contract, we were interrupted by Steve’s phone which started to ‘ding ding ding’ with a new listing alert. This intensified our lack of peace with this lease. We requested more time to think and we went to visit the listed house that interrupted our negotiations, to find out it was not a good fit. Time was short with only one day left to sign a lease.

That evening, an agent informed us of a brand a new listing on the market. We decided we would give this last listing a chance on the morning of the deadline and then a decision really had to be made.

In the morning of the deadline, I prayed once more and told the Lord: “I really desire to hear from you about this home search. I want to be where you want us to be.” Then I started to read my Bible where I left off in the book of Ezekiel. I read about a vision of the specific measurements of the temple which was to be rebuilt. It’s 3 chapters full of numbers. Not really knowing what to make of this passage I asked the Lord: “what can I learn about you in these verses?” The thought that came to mind was that our Lord is a God of specificity. He cares about the details. I shared this with Steve who was also praying for clarity, and we went to the last house viewing.

Within 5 minutes of our arrival to this last listing, on the day of our deadline, we knew that this was the house that the Lord had planned out for us. It has plenty of room to host people, a landlord which priced their rental home fairly and seem very helpful and friendly, there is a yard and space for a small garden. To top it off, there is space for a basketball net and guess what? A mango tree and banana plants!

We are thrilled! Filled with joy about this new home. What a gift!

God doesn’t have to give His children all that they ask for, and yet we are experiencing His lavish generosity right down to the details. We were prevented from entering into a lease where we didn't have full peace and led into one we are so excited about, and right on time! 

We are so grateful for many of you who have been praying with us for the Lord’s guidance in this. Thank you! Your prayers encouraged us. God heard them and provided with such goodness.    
 

Below, life in the daily:
Encountering spiritual needs everyday:
This couple explained that on Chinese New Year, the ancestor spirits are worshiped through food offerings. This is different from the regular offerings made to the spirit of their house and the spirit of their land.  
Concerns are running high on our side of the world regarding that new virus.
Attending our sending organization's yearly conference meant taking special precautions during travels.  

Prayer requests:

We are starting to process many important documents this month such as:
  • the registration of the IMAGO missional freedom business with the Cambodian government
  • Acquiring business Visas
We pray that the Lord who brought us this far will continue to guide every step in His perfect will, for His glory. 

Will you pray with us for opportunities to share the truth and love of the Lord Jesus in our new neighbourhood?
 
Praise:

We have been asking you to pray for good connections and resources to help move the IMAGO project forward. Today we met a consultant who is able to help us with Cambodian laws and requirements for business registrations. We are so grateful. Praise God! 
 
 

November 2019

Matthew 28:16-20
The Great Commission:

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Some doubted!? Really?! How is that possible?
These are the eleven remaining disciples. The ones who lived with Jesus, who saw Him die, who experienced Him as resurrected Lord! And THEY doubted?

A fellow ministry worker at the Missions conference, at the MET Bible church, recently highlighted the fact that those to whom the Lord entrusted the great commission didn't have perfect faith. I don't know about you, but this gives me hope. It helps me as I consider my own imperfect faith, in a perfect Lord, who commissions all of His imperfect children to be disciple-makers. 

Countdown to the land
where we belong

Often, after a first home ministry assignment in the comfort of their native land and surrounded with loved ones, cross-cultural workers hesitate to return to the mission field. It will be difficult to leave family and friends again. But Steve and I are as convinced as ever that Cambodia is the place where we belong. We both feel ready to return in early January and this gives us peace. Returning to Cambodia will bring another transition. We will be moving to a new city, Siem Reap, 325 km away from Phnom Penh. Siem Reap, we believe will be a great place for a missional business to thrive. A move means finding a new place to live, a new community, a new church. Despite the emotional roller coaster of transition, we actually really look forward to it.

We moved to Cambodia 3.5 years ago to share the love and truth of the Lord Jesus in the context of a business that would provide jobs that oppose exploitation. We continue to walk in that dream to see the missional business IMAGO come to life. While we progress, we are grateful that 'not being there yet' doesn't prevent us for continuing to live with the great purpose of growing in knowing our Father and making Him known in the journey.

Would you pray with us?
  • Please pray as we move towards transition: leaving Canada to move to Siem Reap in January
  • Please pray for continued meaningful connections for the IMAGO missional freedom business to move forward.
  • We ask the Lord to provide resources and partners to make this missional business ministry a reality here in Canada and in Cambodia.
Thank you! Send your prayer requests our way too!
One more thing: check out a way some creative thinkers have found to support the IMAGO project. 

Beautiful jewelry that supports IMAGO!

We are thrilled with our friends Mariann and Carrie Sheldrick at 'Keep Collective'. They will be donating 25% of their jewelry sales to the IMAGO project until Dec.5th!

Carrie even designed this particular piece (picture) in honour of the IMAGO project.

You can purchase this piece or design your own here: http://ca.keepcollective.com/soc/3c1b3

You live in Ottawa area? Join us for a special shopping event in Mountain, ON. On the evening of November 26. Connect with Carrie Sheldrick directly for more details.