A Ratanakiri Special Edition
'Where oh death is your sting?' (1 Corinthians 15:55)
In a village accessible only by boat, somewhere deep in the forests of Ratanakiri, 20 or so emerging new believers meet to pray and study God’s Word. How did the gospel reach this isolated group of Brao tribe believers? It began with a elderly, but sprightly lady called Buoy. Buoy’s first exposure to Christianity as a little girl in Loas, was the Swiss Brethren Leprosy Clinic. Her grandfather suffered from the disease, but the ‘Christians’ at the clinic had devotedly cared for him. Many years later, living in Cambodia with a husband and 4 children, disease struck her family again. This time it was her husband, who was slowly being suffocated by an enormous neck tumor. The Village Diviner told them to appease the evil spirits with sacrifices, so starting with a chicken and ending with their much prized Buffalo, Buoy and her husband sacrificed one by one all the animals they owned. They were now impoverished, but it had all been in vain - her husband was still sick. One day Buoy heard about a Christian man who helped take isolated tribal people to the District Hospital. Maybe the news reminded her of the Christians who had once cared for her grandfather. Buoy brought her husband to that man, Kevin Olson (an OMF member), who for the next few months lovingly cared for Buoy’s husband, taking him to hospital, helping make him comfortable and sharing the gospel with him. Before he died, Buoy and her husband received Jesus. Together they now looked not for temporal healing in this world, but for the promise of a far greater and more permanent healing; the promise of a bodily resurrection (1 Cor 15) and life eternal in God’s New Creation (Rev 21).
Buoy and her daughters now host and lead a small church in their rickety old wooden house in their very remote village. Once or twice a month Kevin and two Brao believers from another village travel out to Buoy’s house to help teach them God’s Word. In the near future, OMF in partnership with EMU plan to start training ministry leaders from this group at their ‘Brao and Krung Language Church Ministry School’. Please pray this group of new believers would remain strong and faithful as they patiently wait for some of their own to be equipped to teach and lead them.
Please pray for 20 old Sinate from the Krung tribe. When Sinate was 6 years old her mother died and when she was just a teenager her brother died too. Finding it hard to get on with her step mother, Sinate moved out of the family home and has since lived in the store room of her church. Sinate is a smart and popular girl, but like most tribal children, was unable to finish High School due to a lack of funds. She loves Jesus but she struggles with periods of depression. If I go to live in Ratanakiri, my hope is that Sinate may be able to come and live with me.
Please pray for Nheab, a teeny-tiny Krung woman in her late 30's. Nheab lives on a diet of boiled nettles and leaves which she finds in the forest. She is a very unusual woman, because she has remained unmarried and lives in a village house alone. Her father wants her to come and live with his new family, but because her father forbids her to practice her faith, Nheab refuses to go. Instead she bears the stigma of living alone, but relishing the freedom it gives her to worship her Lord and meet with other believers.
Please pray for Sopee, a 25 year old Krung woman who was recently widowed. Sopee's husband returned home so drunk one night that he fell off their balcony and broke his neck. He lay in bed for 4 months before dying, but during that time he begged his wife to get someone from the church to visit him. As the church cared for Sopee and her husband, they heard the gospel for the first time and believed. Sopee told me 'my family say to me, "your husband is dead now, you don't need to go to church anymore", but I continue to go anyway'.