One of my favorite things about serving the Lord as a missionary in a country that does not have a Christian heritage is that virtually everything in the Bible is new to the people. Sadly, many Christians who grew up with the Bible eventually get bored with the Bible. I don’t think it has to be that way, but oftentimes it is.
Our church in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, is not large, but the people whom God has allowed us to reach...my, how they love the Lord and His Word! A couple of years ago a missionary friend came to me and explained that he was working on putting together an exhaustive Bible concordance for the Khmer Bible. I wouldn’t even know where to begin on a project such as that, but my friend had a computer program (and the brains to know how to work it) which would help him make the concordance. But he needed some help.
The printed Khmer Bible has many differences from the digital Khmer Bible when it comes to the spacing of the words, and this was messing up his attempt to do searches on the various words. He needed a number of Khmer believers to volunteer their time to compare every single verse in the printed Bible with every single verse in the digital Bible and mark the differences in the spacing. Now, doesn’t that sound like exciting work?
I approached about ten people in our church to help (keep in mind that a great number of the people here are not educationally able to do something like this with any measure of accuracy). Knowing our people, I was not surprised when every person I approached readily agreed to help. Most of these folks are going to school full time, or working full time, or both. After about two weeks almost every book of the Bible which I distributed to them for comparison had been completed and turned back in.
Here’s the part I love. No one turned their assignment in with a rolling of the eyes and a sigh as if they were thinking, “Glad that’s over.” On the contrary, each one of them turned in their part with a smile and said, “Is there any more to do?”
I did have some additional Old Testament books which I immediately distributed to the first ones who asked for more, but those who didn’t get more were disappointed when I said they were gone. So, I called up my friend, and sure enough...he was still looking for more help. “Give me a bunch of New Testament books,” I told him. After getting the additional books, I told one of the young ladies who was hoping for more work to do that I had a whole new stack of available books. Her face lit up with a smile, and another young lady standing by her shot her hand up in the air and said, “Can I do some more too, Pastor?” Then the sister of the girl who raised her hand blurted out, “Well, I want to help do some more too.” At this point it was like dominoes falling! A young man said, “Pastor, choose a couple of long books for my brother and I to work on too.” What a great spirit these precious folks have! They humble me constantly.
So why do you think these young people (mostly all in their twenties, but a couple of teenagers too) want to help so badly. Is it because they are bored? No, these people are far from bored. I believe there are a couple of reasons for their helpful spirits.
First of all, they love the Word of God. They want to be a part of anything that has to do with God’s Word. Second, they love God. They truly have hearts that want to serve Him. We just spent four weeks in our Sunday school classes studying about the relationship between master and servant. Right at the end of that four-week lesson, this opportunity came along. Perfect timing.
Third, they love Cambodia. More missionaries arrive to preach the Gospel, they are thrilled. Another Cambodian gets saved, they are overjoyed. Another Gospel tract gets written and printed, they want stacks and stacks to pass out to people. Another resource is presented which will benefit preachers and teachers and laymen (like this concordance project), they just immediately say, “Sign me up!”
We need more Christians who are excited about the things of God. We need more Christians who have not lost their passion for Christ and who have not left their first love. We need more Christians who are not bored with God. I would like to dedicate the following verse to a group of Christians in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, whom I have the privilege to know: “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;” (Romans 12:11).