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Cambodia Fourth Quarter Prayer Letter: The Baldwins

Posted on Dec 11, 2013

Sowing and Reaping in Cambodia

It’s rice harvest season in Cambodia, and we recently finished preaching through our Lord’s parable of the four soils from Matthew 13 and Luke 8. In this parable, we see four kinds of people who hear the good news, and we see how it impacts them.  As missionaries in Cambodia we see the same results in our work; we see a little of each in our peoples’ lives, and even our own lives.

The first soil is the hard ground which stands for a hard, dead heart. Many who hear God’s Word preached at our outreaches seem to be like this hard ground, impenetrable and incapable of sustaining life. They hear the testimony about sin, hell and the cross and say, “OK, what’s for lunch?”  It all means nothing to them. Some seem oblivious, and some seem to trust in their idols and their traditions.  Either way the Word does not have meaning to them.  Of course some of us can be the same way to those parts of the Bible that speak to our own sin.  We, too, have deaf ears and hard hearts at times.

Some do hear with interest and excitement. They feel the miseries of this life and are mindful of the wrath of God and, like the seed planted in shallow ground, they spring up quickly receiving the gospel with joy and excitement.  After all, who wants to go to hell and be tormented for all eternity?  Who doesn’t want the weight of sin and guilt removed? Some of these folks even go out to their family and convert them also!  However when testing comes (as James says testing is good and necessary in 1:2-4), they realize the price is more than they care to pay.  If they truly “counted the cost” (Luke 14:27-33) they would have had no joy and not bothered to follow Jesus even a little way.

It is very sad to see people who had enthusiastically received Christ give up on the church and head back to the local temple because their family and neighbors bully them into it or because they see the demands of the cross as “burdensome” to their lives.

Others embrace the gospel more firmly, enduring trials and seeking eternal life.  However, like the rich young ruler of Mark 10, God can never be #1 in their lives.  They have needs and concerns. Worms eat their home; insects and drought destroy their crop. Neighbors, the police, and the government look to cheat and exploit them, and doctors eat what little they have left. Their “need” to have more is their true god. We Christians also dishonor God and harm ourselves in this, for by way of our nagging concerns we show that it does not suffice us to have God alone as our portion. We cannot be satisfied with Him unless we have as many temporal goods as we deem necessary.

None of these grounds is producing a crop. Scripture says that a good tree must produce good fruit, and any tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown in the fire (Mat 7:15-20 cf: 3:10, etc.) —  a very sobering thought.  All believers do produce fruit, a good crop. An example of this fruit can be seen in one of our young people, Chanak. She has been with us since the beginning and has shown growth in her faith.  While some of her friends have gotten pregnant out of wedlock, married unbelievers, and left the church or simply drifted away, she has become more active.  She had dropped out of school in the fifth grade because she saw no value in it, and she was needed at home to help her parents who were struggling with illness.  A couple of years ago she asked for help learning to read so she could read her Bible. She stayed with us for a while, and now she reads her Bible every day and even takes notes and asks questions.  She is also helping in our ministry by teaching the children when we are not there.  She has a vision to help the poor people in the village to grow in their life, especially to know Christ — God’s way. Such examples of fruitful ground are a joy and encouragement to us.

All those who truly believe will produce fruit, “some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty,” in accordance with “God who gives the increase.” Let us all strive to bring God glory by living fruitful lives as strangers and pilgrims here on earth.

Thank you for praying for us!!

Pastor Mark & Wiwin Baldwin

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