Pol Pot Kills – Tourist Rescues

It was 1975.  Little Bona was the youngest of five sons. One night the Communist forces of the Khmer Rouge came to his village in Cambodia and took his father away, never to be heard from again. Pol Pot’s vicious four-year dictatorship had begun.

Cities were evacuated, factories and schools closed.  Those believed to be intellectuals, such as teachers, medical doctors, those who spoke a foreign language, or in possession of eyeglasses or a wristwatch, were executed as enemies of the state.  Millions were herded into rural collective farms. Between 1975 and 1978, nearly two million Cambodians died by execution, forced labor and famine.

Bona’s mother used a bicycle to provide for her family. On the front end was a net to carry little Bona. On either side of the bike she carried fish sauce she made and sold.  Behind the bicycle she carried cultivation tools to sell: hoes, plows, machetes and sickles.

Thankfully, in 1979 Pol Pot was overthrown.  Food was scarce and Bona’s mother struggled to feed her sons.  After a few years two of the boys escaped to Thailand to live in a refugee camp where they learned English. They returned three years later and began teaching English to their younger siblings.

When Bona was 16 he began working in a restaurant in hopes of practicing his English.  A tourist entered and a conversation ensued. John, a schoolteacher from Brooklyn, told Bona he wanted to meet his mother.  Bona brought him home and when John saw their poverty, he said he wanted to help Bona get an education.

They went to the bank and John deposited $60 in an account and handed Bona his very own bank book.  Thus began five years of education for Bona.  Every month John would send $150.  This paid for Bona’s tuition, books, housing, clothes and food while he completed high school and four years at the university. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in computer science and engineering.

Today Bona is married with children, has a successful career and still keeps in touch with his good friend John from Brooklyn.

  •  And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.   Hebrews 13:16
  • What are your thoughts?   Do you think John from Brooklyn has any regrets?                   (To leave a reply, simply scroll to the bottom.)

 

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Suicide Watch

I still remember as a volunteer, the first time I was assigned to Suicide Watch at the county jail.  SW is where inmates are held the first 72 hours after their arrest. Many are hung-over from drugs/alcohol and are often angry, frightened or depressed over their situation.

That evening I spent 1.5 hours with two desperate, despondent men. Both wept. Both wanted to tell me their sad stories.  I listened.  When they finished, they became quiet and looked at me expectantly.

I explained that often God allows difficult situations in our lives to cause us to recognize our need for Him.  “It may have taken incarceration to get your attention.  But He loves both of you and He wants to be your Savior.  He wants to help you turn your lives around. You cannot do it alone. You need to turn to Jesus and let Him change you.”

Both men chose to surrender their lives to Jesus that night. Their desperation and their tears ceased. They began smiling. They realized there was hope and their peace was real.

We prayed for their wives and children.  I enrolled them in the chaplain’s Bible study. I encouraged the two of them to become prayer partners while incarcerated, praying daily together for each other. I even showed them how to pray through the Psalms. That is, reading two verses and then praying them back to God in their own words. Then going on to the next two verses. We tried it together and they seemed willing to give it a go. I suggested churches in their area for when they are released, plus other useful information. They were both convinced that the Lord brought them to jail for this very purpose.

When I stood to leave, one of them said, “Thank you. I will remember you as long as I live.”

I said, “You probably will! After all, this is the most important day of your life—for all eternity.  I still remember the woman who led me to Jesus. I will never forget her.  But you know what? Other people are going to remember you in the same way—when you tell them about Jesus.”

  • This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.    1 Timothy 2:3-4
  • For he himself is our peace…   Ephesians 2:14
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I Covet Casey’s Toys

Our six-year-old grandson told me he was learning the Ten Commandments in Sunday school.

“That’s pretty impressive, Mark!   Tell me what you’ve learned.”

He began reciting them, in order!  Then he stopped.  “Grandma, I have trouble with one of them—Thou shalt not covet.   I covet Casey’s toys.”

“Really! You know what, Mark? I think that is a common problem.
Tell me something. Do you ever get to play with Casey’s toys?”

“Oh yes! He just lives across the street. I get to play with his toys a lot!”

I said, “The Bible gives us some instructions for this problem. Do you want to know what those instructions are?”

He nodded.

“The Bible tells us we should thank God for everything. I think we should thank God for blessing Casey with great toys. When we thank God, even when we don’t feel like it, He gives us a special kind of peace that guards our minds so we don’t want to covet anymore.”

It made sense to Mark.  So we thanked God.

  • Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.   Ephesians 5:19b-20
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.     Philippians 4:6-7
  • You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.   Exodus 20:17
  • SONG: STORY OF A DREAM – Click here to listen:
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Evangelism is NOT My Gift!

I have many friends who love God. Yet when I speak of evangelism, they will slowly back away saying, “I’m glad you have that gift—it’s certainly not mine!” They seem afraid that I might try to rope them into something frightening.

Most Christians do not believe evangelism is their gift. Certainly there are not many as gifted as Billy Graham. But Jesus commissioned all believers in John 20:21 when He said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:5 to “do the work of an evangelist.” Paul didn’t limit it to those with the gift of evangelism. He just said to do the work of an evangelist.

You might be thinking, “Paul was talking to Timothy, not to me.”
Or, “Timothy was a preacher.  I’m NOT a preacher.”

In 2 Timothy 1:7-8, Paul encouraged Timothy not to be timid, not to be ashamed of Gospel, and in chapter 2:1 to be strong. Would anyone have to urge Billy Graham not to be timid, not to be ashamed of the Gospel, or to be strong?  Not at all!

I believe Timothy was just an ordinary person, like each of us. I believe what is really necessary to do the work of an evangelist, is to simply have a passion for the lost. The love of Christ compels us.   2 Corinthians 5:14.

You might say, “I don’t know enough Scripture to lead someone to Christ.” You don’t?
Study to show yourselves approved unto God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, as it says in 2 Timothy 2:15!   Often when I have been at the jail or on the college campus, I have been challenged with a difficult question.  I realize I need to go home and study!  We’re always improving.

Jesus believed we were all lost, that’s why He came. The Bible tells us we are all lost without Him. If those without Jesus are lost, what does that mean? It means spending eternity apart from God—it means hell. Do you believe the Bible? Are you then not compelled to do all you can to save your loved ones?

“Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you’re not saved yourself, be sure of that!” — Charles H. Spurgeon

  • For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.            2 Timothy 1:7-8
  • You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus      2 Timothy 2:1
  • I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.              John 4:35b
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Has Following Jesus Changed You?

“Has following Jesus Christ been life-changing for you?  If so, how?”  This question was directed to a contact from GMO (Global Media Outreach).  Her response:

“I used to stress about my life, money and relationships. I used to feel lonely, blaming myself, easily tempted, angry and judgmental. I was even thinner—very thin with stress. There were things happening to my body that I didn’t understand. My family saw that something was wrong as I lost so much weight but I didn’t tell them anything. Also, I was a person who didn’t share my problems with anyone. At that time I was going to church. I was there physically but not spiritually. My focus was on fleshy things and those evil desires.

“My Lord Jesus Christ has absolutely changed me into a new person. Since I began to follow Jesus, I consult Him on everything and everyday.  I love Him and I trust Him. He delivered me, He saved me, He removed all those burdens from me. I feel relieved. He made me humble, patient and caring. I have love for everyone and I thank our Lord Jesus Christ and our God Jehovah, for delivering and saving me. I don’t deserve it. I disobeyed Him. I am nothing without Him, I welcome God ‘s punishment. Thank you my LORD, Thank you my God with Your Holy Spirit who guides me every day.”

What a wonderful, supernatural change in this young woman’s life! I remember many years ago when Jesus Christ changed my own life in a most dramatic way. Her story is similar to mine.

How about you? Has following Jesus Christ been life-changing for you? If so, how?

  • For more information on Global Media Outreach:   http://www.godlife.com/look-to-jesus  and http://www.greatcommission2020.com/map  
  • The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Romans 8:16
  • We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.   1 John 3:14
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Praising God is a Sacrifice?

We had just finished singing about bringing the “sacrifice of praise to the Lord,” when a 16-year-old incarcerated youth asked a question.

“I don’t get it.  Why would singing praises to God be a sacrifice?”

“Good question, Jack!  Let me ask you this:  When God does something really wonderful in our lives is it natural to want to thank Him and even praise Him?”

“Sure.”

“What if things are not going well? Sometimes it’s not easy to thank God or to praise Him. Yet this is the very thing He wants us to do—even when we don’t feel like it.  When we obey God in this way, it shows we are trusting Him.  Trusting God is what the Christian life is all about.

“When we praise Him and thank Him, He blesses us with His peace. That amazing peace which is beyond our understanding actually protects our minds and hearts.

“So initially, it may seem like a sacrifice because it’s something we don’t feel like doing.  But whenever we obey God, He rewards us.”

  • Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.    Hebrews 13:15
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.     Philippians 4:6-8
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College Student with an Attitude

While on the college campus with our Bible table,  a student stopped to look over our books. I asked her if she’d like a free Bible and she gruffly replied, “NO!”

Uh Oh!  The girl has an attitude!  I stepped back.  She continued to hang around, quietly checking out the books.  I have discovered that if I ask permission to ask a question people are more apt to cooperate.  So I said, “May I ask you a personal question?”

“Yes.”

I said, “If you were to die today, do you know where you’d go?”

“It would not be heaven. God wouldn’t want me, not with the life I’ve lived.”

I said, “There is nothing you have ever done that God does not want to forgive.                 He loves you.  That is why Jesus came, to live a sinless life so that He could die on the cross to pay for your sins and mine, so that someday we can both freely enter heaven.”

Her countenance changed as if she suddenly realized there was hope.

I said,  “I have a little booklet I’d like to share with you.  It’s called, Would You Like To Know God Personally?”

She came closer.  I walked through each page with her.  When we came to the little prayer at the end,   I asked her if she’d like to turn away from her sins and give her life to Jesus.

She quietly answered,  “Yes.”

She prayed with us right there in the middle of the quad, then signed up to join our Campus Christian Fellowship and left with a new Bible.   An hour later she returned with two friends!  She said,  “My friends want Bibles—and they also want to join the club!”

  • Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!   2 Corinthians 5:17
  • What do you think?  Was she was ready to receive Christ after such a short discussion?  Do you think she went away a changed person?  
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Son in Drug Rehab

We were eating in a quiet restaurant. There was one other diner eating alone.  He greeted us when we arrived and began sharing his sadness over his 19-year-old son in drug rehab.

I asked him if he had a faith background.  He said he had “fallen away.”

I said, “We all need hope.” I reached in my purse and pulled out a booklet.  I  said, “I have something that will encourage you. This booklet contains a message from the Bible. Many years ago this message changed my life.  It’s called, Would You Like To Know God Personally?”

He seemed grateful and began reading it.  When he left he waved the booklet at us and said, “I appreciate this—I’m going to share it with my son!”

Reminder: Re-stock my purse!

“Thank You, Lord, for giving that man the freedom to share his heart with us. Thank You for his openness. Please prepare his son for the truths he will read. Draw him to Yourself, dear Jesus.”

  •  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect.     1 Peter 3:15
  • Booklet Info:  http://www.campusministrytoolbox.org/toolbox/would-you-like-to-know-god-personally/

[Do you carry with you a booklet or tract that might encourage another? Are you prepared for opportunities when they arise? If so, what do you find is most effective?  To leave a comment, click on the story's TITLE, then scroll down to "Leave a Reply."]

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Praying Together, Staying Together

Can praying together hold a marriage together? Perhaps.

It seem that most incarcerated teens are from single-parent homes—but not all.  One night a 17-year-old was grieving over disappointing his parents by getting into trouble.

“They are good parents. They have been married 19 years and this is the worst thing that’s ever happened to them.  Sometimes they argue, but they love God. They pray together every night—I think that’s why they’re still married.”

He’s probably right about that.

  •  And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,  so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,  filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.    Philippians 1:9-11
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Fishing Off the Pier

What interesting people one meets while fishing off the pier with five grandchildren!

We first met a homeless guy who sold us his mussels for bait.  I did not realize what a HUGE undertaking it would be to attempt to bait four tangled lines.

We were thankful when Mario and Jose came to our rescue. Mario shared that he’d been clean and sober for two years, ever since graduating from G_____ Academy in Central California.  I asked him if the rumors I’d heard about G____ were true, that they only permit 30-second showers.  He said they WERE! I was glad my grandsons could hear this!

Mario said he entered the academy weighing 300 pounds and graduated ten months later weighing only 150!  He learned a trade and was grateful for the experience.

Jose, on the other hand, was having trouble finding employment because employers say the large stretch-earrings in his earlobes are distracting. I shared a Jesus booklet with him.

He read it and afterward came over to thank me. Then he offered us some of his squid, apparently a much-preferred bait over mussels.  So I gave him another booklet to read, and then another. These young men had lots of spiritual questions while answering our fisherman questions. It was a delightful exchange. All the while the children were watching, listening and learning—about life.

 

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