Joelle's Monthly Prayer Letter
Teaching the Bible without opening a Bible
I remember as an RML leader at St Helen’s church we were encouraged to keep telling our group members to ‘look down at the passage’ to answer our questions. Whilst this approach works well at St Helen’s it has never really worked in Cambodia. Either they are on the wrong page, or can’t find the right verse or chapter, or can’t read the text well enough to grasp it. Although most Khmer people are at least semi- literate, both educationally and culturally they have never been big readers. I am learning to use 50% of my Bible study time reading the story over and over before I can expect them to answer any questions about it. Only once the story has been memorised can they then begin to think about its meaning and application. A few months from now I hope to move up-country to live in a tribal area called Ratanakiri. It has four main hill tribes; Jarai, Tampuan, Krung and Brou. These hill tribes are even more deprived of basic education than the Khmer. For a matter of basic survival the whole family (men, women and children) work together tending the fields day in and day out. Most of them have never even had an elementary school education. The challenges I found leading a Bible study in Phnom Penh will be only a fraction of the challenges I am likely to face teaching the Krung people. a) We’ll be studying in Khmer, a second language for both of us and b) many of them are likely to be entirely illiterate. I will need God to help me explore creative ways of teaching the Bible through Bible recordings and storytelling. Please pray that God would be equipping me on how best to use these very different teaching tools and that His Word would prevail even in this difficult context.
One of the hardest things for me to leave behind will be my Bible study with the girls that work at a Massage shop. It has been amazing to see them growing to know and love Jesus for themselves and getting stuck into a church. I am convinced that God has brought salvation into the hearts of maybe 2 or 3 of the girls already. Please pray that God would continue deeply ministering to them through their church and youth group once I have gone.
Pray for Gods guidance on where I should live in Ratanakiri i.e. should I live in the village or live in the town? Or should I live in the town but stay 2-3 nights a week in the village? Or should I live in the town first and move out to the village only after I have made some positive relationships? I know it would be constructive live alongside the people I am working with, but I’m also aware of the risk of taking on too much too soon. Either way, pray for God to provide a house (wherever it is) that I feel safe in and is at least close to one other missionary couple.
One of the things I hope to be involved with in Ratanakiri is a new magazine radio program in the Krung and Jarai languages. It is exciting to think that the gospel could reach the most remote villages through our radio program. As I write this, I am attending a 10 day radio broadcast training program in Ratanakiri itself, along with six young tribal farmers (all believers). Please pray that we can move forward with the program and start broadcasting in the next 4-6 months. One idea is a daily 3 minute slot called learning English with Joelle (!) using verses like 1 Corinthians 13:4.