I Raise My Ebenezer
On March 16, 2020, I got a message from a pastor of one of my partnering churches that read, “Hey, Alex! Due to Covid-19, we are going to have to postpone you coming to our church. We are going to online services now, and we aren’t really sure what the future holds.” That same week, I had eight individual meetings scheduled — all of them were canceled. Covid-19 put a halt to everything I was doing. Like many of you, I was discouraged. I felt defeated. I was so uncertain about the future. I didn’t know when, or if, I would be able to make it to Cambodia in 2020.
Thankfully, after about a month of everyone settling into this new way of life, partnership development started back up again. God did many incredible things throughout my partnership development journey. However, the greatest thing was how he encouraged many partners to step out in faith.
I attended a one-month missionary pre-field training in July. I also needed a visa. The visa application was sent in with faith that God would provide. Four days after being at training, news was received that my visa was approved!
However, two days later, I received a different kind of news. I discovered I had contracted Covid-19. I was immediately isolated in my room for two weeks. After two weeks of anxiety and a slight cough, I was released from isolation.
I have now been in Cambodia for more than three months and much has happened since I landed here. In the beginning, I was quarantined in a hotel for two weeks, my teammates had to leave the field due to health issues, and my living situation after quarantine made it hard to get into town every day. Things just didn’t seem to go right. Again, waves of discouragement, uncertainty, and frustration rose up. I began to question the timing of everything, and, for a moment, I felt like God left me in this foreign country to fend for myself.
As doubts began to creep into my head, I was gently reminded of a verse that was used in a commissioning service one week before leaving for Cambodia. “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the LORD has helped us’” (1 Samuel 7:12 NIV). Samuel built up an Ebenezer as a way to praise God for everything God did for the Israelites while fighting the Philistines. In the same way, I was encouraged, remembering how faithful God had been over these past several months and trusting how faithful he would continue to be in the months and years to come.
Since then, I have settled into a new side of town near one of our Wesleyan churches. There have been several ministry opportunities with youth through our English and soccer program, and relationships are being established. God is teaching me to be patient, and to trust in his overall plan for the ministry in Cambodia. As I start each day, I look at the Ebenezer stone on my desk and am reminded that God has helped me thus far and will continue to help me as I put my trust in him.