Posted by: សារ៉ា(Sarah) | December 19, 2011

An Unusual Prayer & Christmas Thoughts

I swing in a hammock in our living room, chatting with the other girls from time to time. Yes, Laura and I are still in Cambodia, and the prospect of our spending Christmas in Thailand with the Sharon family is rapidly diminishing. Although we’ve prayed that we could go if it was God’s will, we’ve heard nothing regarding the status of our visas, and Kat says the last time she sent her passport off to renew her visa it was gone three months. At least when it finally did return, her visa was for a whole year; we’re hoping the delay means something similar for us!

But even though plans haven’t gone as we’d thought, we’re still enjoying our break. Between reading out loud to each other, a surprise visit from Travis (whom I haven’t seen for over three years), being locked out of our house, and other things, we certainly aren’t bored! And in God’s mercy we can even experience a very special blessing resulting from the unusual prayer of one of our students.

The morning after our scheduled departure, I was walking past the various classrooms during the break between classes. As I neared the door to 12th grade, Pisei wandered out. “Hello, Teacher!” he exclaimed when he saw me. “When you go to Thailand?”

“Well, we can’t go without our passports, and they are still in Phnom Penh,” Laura explained as she joined us.

“Yes,” I added. “And we haven’t heard anything about them coming back any time soon. So if we don’t get them back, we will just stay here for the holiday, but that’s okay. Maybe God wants us to be here instead.”

A broad, but rueful grin spread across Pisei’s face, and he glanced at me out of the corner of his eyes. “Teacher, last night I do something,” he confessed, then hesitated.

“What did you do?” I prompted with an encouraging smile.

“Oh, Teacher! Last night I pray you will not get your passports so you have to stay here,” he blurted, still grinning sheepishly.

We chuckled together and assured him that if our passports didn’t come and we stayed here, we would thoroughly enjoy having him come visit; after all, it would seem rather lonely with most of our other students gone.

Pisei wasn’t the first to say he didn’t want us to go to Thailand. Tob also expressed her desire for us to stay. And then there were still other students who were disappointed to find out we already had plans; many had wanted to invite us home with them during the holiday. But God knew Pisei needed his prayer answered. Over the years he has really struggled with some things he knows he needs to change, yet try as he might, he cannot conquer that with which Satan binds him. The conviction that he must change has deepened during the past few months, and he has been especially scared about what would happen this holiday with so much free time with his Buddhist family and away from the safety of the dorm where temptations cannot harass him so much. The last week of school he began to realize he could never hope for victory in his own strength. Trying to encourage him and our other students for the battles they would face during the holiday, we sent each home with a list of encouraging Bible promises and with the promise to pray for each student by name every day.  We have since been praying and discussing ways we can help our students understand practical Christianity.

Today we were a little startled to hear a knock at our door. “Come in!” we called, but instead of entering, our visitor just knocked again. As Laura opened the door and looked outside, a very puzzled expression crossed her face. No one was there. Thinking maybe it was some of the little kids playing a trick, she turned to look where small people might hide, and who should she see crouching beside our front steps but Pisei! As soon as she saw him, he started laughing and promptly accepted her invitation to come in.

He visited for at least an hour, chatting and laughing about various things. He specifically commented about how God had answered his prayer for us to stay here instead of going to Thailand. As he rose to leave, he promised to come again and said he hopes to bring his mother and little brother (who are visiting from the other side of Phnom Penh at his sister’s place in Siem Reap) to meet us.

His visit may seem insignificant, but we’re very excited. Other students have shared that he’s wanted to come visit with them several times, but he’s always been too scared. I guess maybe he got lonely enough that he overcame his fear! But beyond that, we also know that if he had given in to temptation, he either wouldn’t have come to visit, or his guilt would have betrayed him. God is teaching Pisei to trust Him more, and one way is by answering his prayer for our passports not to come; because of that, Pisei is beginning to understand how to trust Christ for victory.

Thank you for your prayers as we seek to help our students understand what it means to surrender their hearts moment-by-moment to God and experience victory over sin in their daily lives. Please pray for all our students during these holidays – the temptations are numerous and powerful – but please pray especially that Pisei may experience complete victory during these next two weeks away from school.

Note from Laura: As the world at home centers its attention on beautifully decorated gifts, exquisite light exhibits, glittering christmas trees, and so many other holiday things, I sit here in Cambodia and wonder if I and most Christians have yet to understand what we should be doing to celebrate our Savior’s birth. I know I am still getting a better idea of what it means. Of course, we all know of the Christmas story and the joyous greetings the angels brought of Jesus’ birth. But yet we are still so slow to share its good news with others. We often talk about sharing the good news of Jesus’ second advent, but a majority of the world has yet to hear of His first advent. They still don’t know about the peace and the goodwill towards men that Jesus’ birth heralded. Our Buddhist neighbors don’t have a clue what Christmas means. They associate it with some western holiday centered around gift giving, singing strange songs, and reenactments of people and times quiet peculiar to their own. Who will tell them what Christmas is really about? What about the other millions of people who don’t know about Jesus? How about your neighbors and co-workers? Do they know what Christmas is about? Will it be you who will tell them? Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel, but few rarely use it to do so. Minds are open to things at this time of the year that they might not otherwise be open to hearing. I want to be a missionary this Christmas – how about you? Big or small we can each do something to tell others about a Savior born in a dirty manger for you and me.


  1. Hi Sarah and Laura, We greatly enjoy your posts for the mission work. Our prayers and thoughts are with you, especially during the holiday season.

    Thank you for representing Jesus so faithfully to the people there. Thank you also for giving us inspiration to share the gospel wherever God has put us.

    With love through our Wonderful Savior!

    Curt and Laina

  2. Dear Laura, You dad told Joe and I about your students having trouble with demons so whoever the child is we pray for them. I call you the red headed dollie from White Salmon since I couldn’t remember your name, but I remember your story of selling books. God bless you, Laura, as you work for the Lord. My son Joe loves your Dad – they have alot of the same interests. I look forward to your mission stories. Mrs. Gwenda Graham

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