It was Sabbath morning, and Ming Nee, our first baptized member, brought her friend, Ming Neang, to worship with us. The first thing I noticed about Ming Neang was that she reeked of alcohol. In this culture, it is unusual for women to drink. Her habit made me doubt that she had much interest in spiritual things. However, she surprised me when she came back and became a regular attendee at our worships.
It turned out that Ming Neang had attended a Christian church in the area many years ago. There aren’t any other churches in the area now. She lives in a shack on her friends’ property. They often drink and offer her their home-made rice wine, which she politely accepts. She often comes to our meetings with alcohol on her breath.
After Ming Neang had been attending our group for some time, she decided that she wanted to be baptized. Bo realized that he needed to talk to Ming Neang about the importance of temperance and not partaking in substances that alter our minds. When he shared this important principle with her from the Bible, she readily accepted it. She made up her mind that, even if her friends rejected her for not drinking with them anymore, she would stay true.
We were blessed to witness Ming Neang’s baptism shortly before our furlough. During furlough, I often prayed for Ming Neang and hoped she had been able to stay faithful while we were gone.
When we returned from furlough four months later, we were so happy to reunite with our little village group! Had they been faithful to their commitment to Jesus even while they lacked spiritual guidance?
On our first Sabbath back, when Bo drove Ming Neang home after church, she shared what had happened while we were away. By God’s grace, she had faithfully avoided alcohol as well as unclean meat. Surprisingly, most of her friends had been very accepting of her decisions.
She said that, while she enjoyed her first church group many years ago, they didn’t do very much teaching on Biblical lifestyle. She shared how meaningful our teaching has been to her and how interesting the Bible studies are.
Now that we’ve been in this culture for three years, I’m starting to truly appreciate the sincerity of our little group. Though many of them are the poorest of the poor, they don’t ask us for money or food, and they are willing to make sacrifices for the Lord, no matter the cost. God has given us some genuine, true seekers, and we are so thankful for each one of them!