Ever since the new year began our church has seen a serious decline in attendance. In the second half of 2010 we saw many new people come to the church, most of who declared a new commitment to Christ. Many of those people we baptized as well. I found this all very encouraging. But then as we entered 2011 those same people disappeared. I can understand some leaving, but all? Also late last year we had some younger people who would sing and play instruments at our Sunday morning worship, but last Sunday it was one woman singing a cappella. So are they all just lying when they say they are going to stay faithful? I am not one to lead people into an easy salvation. I don’t want anyone to think they are safe from God’s wrath when indeed they are not. But even when I think I am doing enough to make people understand I am surprised at the results.
A recent conversation with a fellow missionary shed some light on the problem for me. Poipet is a place where people just don’t tend to stay for a very long time. As one YWAM missionary said to me once: “Poipet is like an alleyway”. What’s an alleyway for? It’s for getting from one place to another. Who lives in an alley? People who don’t have a stable home. So we have this instability to contend with in Poipet. This is a challenge for all the local churches, not just the Victory church. We must keep faithful to what we are called to do, and not give up on the call of God on our lives.
I remember a European tourist who landed himself in Poipet. I was walking down the street. When he saw another white guy he was obviously relieved. He came up to me and asked if I could help him get out of Poipet. I said: “Sure, where do you want to go?” He answered: “I don’t care! Just get me the hell out of here!” I got him in a cab and told the driver to take him to the military prison… (just kidding) But that’s the attitude of many I speak to. I read in one tourist book that “The best part of Poipet is leaving Poipet”, and another: “Poipet is the armpit of Cambodia”.
Below is a short video featuring Pastor Soeuth Lao. He is a pastor working for the “Christian and Missionary Alliance” here in Poipet. The C&MA has a rich history of missions in Cambodia. Here in this video I think Pastor Soeuth Lao sums up the challenges of working in Poipet as best is possible. (Video was produced by the C&MA)