A lengthy and positive feature article appeared in yesterday’s West Milton (Ohio) Record about the Community Grace Brethren Church of West Milton (Steve Peters, pastor) and their involvement in Cambodian orphan work through Asia’s Hope. Here is an excerpt from the article. To read the entire article click on http://www.tcnewsnet.com/main.asp?SectionID=14&SubSectionID=231&ArticleID=143802&TM=45555.18 . More information on Asia’s Hope is available at http://www.asiashope.com/index.php.
Vekhoun Tang was one of the persecuted Christian pastors. Out of his group of colleagues, Tang was the only one that survived. He and his family traveled the country – the distance of Cincinnati to Cleveland – on foot to escape, eventually ending up in Long Beach, California.
That is where he met Pastor Steve Peters of Community Grace in 1991.
Tang had been praying about going back to Cambodia to build churches. Peters invited him to come to Community Grace’s annual missions conference, and at the end of the conference, Tang said he would specifically like to start Grace Brethren churches in Cambodia.
Their partnership has been extremely helpful in the movement of Christianity and the physical rebuilding in that country.”He’s the Billy Graham of Cambodia,” describes Peters, “He is a mover and shaker and directs things very well.”
1992 marked the first trip from West Milton to Cambodia, one of six Missions Director Woody Curtis and five Peters would make. Peters, Curtis and company met Ben Noun, a pastor discipled by Tang and who with Community Grace’s help would found many house churches.
Another ground-breaking trip came in 1998.
With the assistance of former pastor Scott Distler and the foundation Asia’s Hope (started by a pastor from Wooster, Ohio), Community Grace sent six guys with six suitcases of electronics. Miraculously the luggage was not searched or opened, and the equipment was used to start a radio station that reaches a large portion of Cambodia and down into Vietnam.
However, any time there are people involved, personal issues can come up. In November of 2005, it became ‘increasingly obvious’ that Community Grace would have to make another trip.
A few weeks ago, Peters and Curtis traveled to Asia once again to smooth out situations.
Their other goal was to start an orphanage – institutions that are desperately needed in that country. The pair ran across a house that a wealthy man had built for his daughter, but had sat empty for years because she didn’t want it.
The house has five bathrooms, four of which are Western toilets, which is absolutely unheard of, and even a 2 ½ feet deep pool. The man decided to lease it to the church for $150 a month – an extremely good deal. He even delivered paint for them.
Before Peters and Curtis left, the house had been prayed for, removed of spirit houses (places for Buddhist idols), and was starting to be fixed up. Since Community Grace as an American church cannot officially own property, they go through a foundation of four men. No changes can be made to the house or deed without the agreement of all four.
Peters and Curtis also found a staff. Both an administrator and a certified school teacher that they had worked with in the past suddenly became available while they were there. Then the pair found a widow to be the cook, fulfilling the Bible verse about caring for the fatherless and the widowed.
“God worked this out – it’s just incredible,” enthuses Peters.
Asia’s Hope will run the orphanage, and Community Grace will pay the bill. They left $2,500 to start, for desks, mats, and other school supplies. The budget calls for $2,000 a month, to cover everything from salaries to rent to medical needs.
“We’re believing God that we can get the first year in the bank so we can expand as God brings the kids,” Peters declares.