I hope you've had a fantastic couple of weeks!
Today we begin a new season in our prayer focus in preparation for the November Esther's Voice village retreats.
The focus of our ministry in the village is the prevention of sex trafficking. Just like in Australia, the greatest protection for children is provided by a strong marriage and healthy family environment. Prevention begins in the village through the establishment of healthy families and communities and women play a central role in building this strong foundation. On the surface village life in Cambodia may appear to be simple and harmonious but beneath the seasonal rhythms of subsistence farming and religious ritual, issues such as family strife and generational offence often lead to alcoholism, gambling and physical violence. These issues can then perpetuate poverty, generate debt and bring about an atmosphere of pressure that places children and young girls in particular at great risk. In the midst of all this women are not victims. God has positioned His daughters in the village to bring change through the extraordinary power of their influence.
'Influence' is an imperceptible or indirect action that causes change. It originates from the Latin word 'Inluere" which means 'to flow'. The impact of the healing that begins in the hearts of women in the village will 'flow' into marriages, families and communities bringing transformation and change that is authentic and permanent.
The book of Esther begins with a profound statement of the power of female influence. In Esther 1:12 Vashti's very public refusal of Xerxes request for her to come before his banquet guests to display her beauty not only resulted in her immediate divorce and banishment, it bought about a decree that required women throughout the empire to 'respect their husbands' and legislated that 'every man was the ruler of his own household.' The motive behind this strong response to a simple difference in opinion, was an attempt to quench the fire of 'disrespect, strife and discord' that was feared would undermine the foundation of Persian family life as a result of Vashti's influence. Xerxes wise men advised him in Esther 1: 17-18 that 'Vashti's conduct will become known to all women and cause them to despise there own husbands…(and bring about) no end of disrespect and discord.'
Female influence is powerful and like any form of power it can be used to bring great benefit or terrible destruction. In family life, female influence is sometimes used to undermine, belittle, manipulate and bring division and strife but even more powerfully it can establish an atmosphere of faith, peace, respect, nurture and love. Our aim in the village is to 'Influence the Influencers' so the great power of their influence is utilised to full effect to bring healing and strength to those around them. We will be sharing the gospel, praying for healing and through the EV programmes, empowering women to make healthy choices for themselves and for those in their care. The mandate of Esther's voice is to 'reach the ones who will reach the thousands' and a significant part of our work in the village is to minister to the female pastors and leaders who are at the forefront of village women's ministry. God is raising the voices of these women to confront and minister to the real issues women face in their daily lives and bring about the shifts in culture that establish a foundation of strength for families and communities.
Esther 2 brings significant change. Once Vashti's negative voice is silenced a new season emerges where female influence is utilised to deliver a message of hope and salvation that transforms the empire. In contrast to Vashti use of influence that caused disrespect and discord, the impact of Esther's influence was that 'in every province and every city….many people from other nationalities became Jews (Gods people)' Esther 8:17. This is the same change in season God is bringing about in Cambodia. A change in the way women see themselves and a shift in the use of their divinely bestowed influence that brings unity and salvation.
In the story of Esther this season change began with a search for a 'more suitable' woman to replace Vashti's position of influence with the king. This search resulted in Esther's rise to throne and the impact of her influence was the delivery of salvation of her people.
In Cambodia the season has changed! And this change begins with a search. In preparation for the village retreats where we 'influence the influencers' lets prayer together for God's Spirit to make a way for us and identify and gather the voices who will change their nation, 'the one who will reach the thousands'. This ministry is strategic and it is significant. The village is where the real change happens and our most effective form of influence is prayer. Accessing the authority of heaven and taking hold of every spiritual victory and freedom Christ has won for us here on earth.
We are working with Ps Jesse McCaul from New Life Fellowship and his teams on the ground in Cambodia to minister in the villages. Ps Jesse has asked us to pray for his pastors this week. In the past couple of months two young pastors have been killed in motorbike accidents on village roads. The first pastor's wife has had both of her legs amputated and the wife of the second pastor (who died only a few days ago) remains in a critical condition. Both of these couples have young children and they had both only just planted churches this year. The shock and grief of the loss of these amazing young couples has been a massive blow to the morale of the evangelist teams who continue to minister and establish churches in the villages. Please pray for them this week, especially for the leader of the church planting team Ps Sotar. Ps Sotar was one of the first Christian evangelist in Cambodia after the fall of Khmer Rouge and he personally lead these young pastors to Jesus, discipled them and trained them for ministry. The loss of their young lives has been very hard on him.
1. A 'season change' in village life where peace, respect and love replace strife discord and offence;
2. Freedom from generational strongholds of alcoholism, gambling, poverty, offence and adultery;
3. God to prepare a way for us in the villages as He searches for and gathers 'the ones who will reach the thousands';
4. Strength in marriages, families and communities;
5. The Holy Spirit to continue the work of resolving unresolvable problems and empowering every woman to make good choices that bring blessing and freedom;
6. God strength, favour and provision for the women pastors and leaders in the villages and protection over their marriages, families, health and finances;
7. Please pray for safety and protection of all the pastors and evangelist teams as they travel. No more accidents in Jesus Name!;
7. Lets praise God for the victory He has already won for us and take hold on His Victory's 'On earth as it is in heaven'.
We will be praying in the prayer chapel at Oxford Falls again tomorrow morning, 7.45am. I'd love to see you there!
Thank you for your prayers and faith! Have a fantastic week!