This is Charlie Pisaruk’s new blog page with Relevant Expeditions…
Charlie is a graduate of Rhema Bible Training Center and has served in the USA as an associate pastor, bible school instructor, children’s pastor, youth worker and helps minister in church administration. Charlie also lived and administered an outreach in Cambodia for a large ministry from the USA. He currently bases in Malaysia and serves as a missionary with Relevant Expeditions in Cambodia, Thailand, Asia, India and Nepal.
Check out more details here
I awoke at 5:00 Christmas morning feeling a bit down. I was not rising from a “long winter’s nap”, nor was it anything like the crisp cold snowy white Christmas I am accustomed to in the USA, but rather it was a hot, humid, muggy 85˚ South East Asian morning in a $12 hotel. There were no sounds or smells coming from the kitchen of cinnamon rolls, bacon and coffee.
I didn’t hear my grandkids giggling over the holiday music playing in the background, as they awaited the signal that the coast was clear for them to come to the living room where the gifts waited under the tree. To be honest I was having a bit of a pity party. I wiped away my tears and made my way to the Relevant Expeditions compound where dozens of Cambodian children were waiting. As I arrived they saw me and ran toward me hugging me, giggling and smiling beautiful bright smiles of joy and appreciation.
Instantly the reality of the situation hits me square in the face. This IS the meaning of Christmas. It is about sacrifice and sharing. It is giving hope and love to others. It is why Jesus came. To seek and save the lost. I felt God’s presence right beside me with his hand on my shoulder and a smile on his face. “See Jim, this is Christmas.” Different from what you have always known Christmas to be, but it really is more like Christmas than anything you have ever experienced.” Of course I was ashamed of my self pity as I looked around at the children who had never experienced Christmas of any kind.
Christmas has always been about HOPE for me. But honestly my hope as a child and as an adult has often been a sort of selfish hope. One of my great joys as an adult is giving an unexpected gift to someone, something special and memorable. As a child I would HOPE for a toy fire engine, hope for something special, hope for laughter and smiles from others, hope for happiness.
One Christmas I had so hoped for a Pony as we lived on a farm, but we were poor and there was no way r that was going to happen. At 4AM I awoke to see my dad placing 2 saddles near the tree but he put a blanket over them. With my heart racing with excitement I Ran back to my bed and didn’t fall back asleep until we were told a few hours later that we could come downstairs. We opened other gifts found our Christmas socks, fruits and candies. And we were thrilled! But those saddles I saw were not a dream – they were my hopes of what could possibly be waiting to wear those saddles! Then we were told to take off the blanket to see the saddles and were told that my brother had a horse and I had a pony and a friend was keeping them. In that moment all of my hopes and dreams had come true! There was no greater joy, nothing in the world could compare.
Since then Christmas has been about the excitement of those moments of hope. Always before those moments were spent with my family at home, but this year I was with these very poor children, many of whom had never ridden in a car, owned a pair of shoes, and likely only had one shirt to their name.
I realized that many of them have experienced such hardships they can’t even imagine that there might be something else out there to actually HOPE for. Of course we didn’t neglect an opportunity to share with them the ONE TRUE HOPE of the world…and it was truly amazing to see the expectation on their faces as we told them about Jesus.
One memorable trip began with a three-hour flight from our base in Malaysia to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). We drove in the cover of darkness for hours. Then while it was still dark we mounted motorbikes, I was a passenger on the back of a very small motorbike with a driver that spoke no English.
After about an hour the group split up going in eight different directions. My driver and I were now alone driving on a mud road in the dark using no lights and it had started raining. His driving did not really suit my approval and then finally with the mud becoming so slick and the driver going too fast our bike spun out of control and slammed both the driver and I into the mud. My shoulder was hurt and I was slow getting up.
The driver was frantic and encouraged me to climb back on to his bike. I was very reluctant to get back on, until I realized that with me or without me he was leaving. I quickly got on not understanding what he knew, that the authorities were closing in fast on us. It was against the law with sever punishment for he and I if we were caught in this area. An hour later we finally arrived at the very remote underground house church in the highlands of Vietnam. I was muddy, tired and wet but grateful to be there. The motorbike group had split up to cause diversion for the police and government officials. These people had risked their lives to protect me. Now I understood why I was told to keep my helmet and jacket on, as if that somehow would make me look Vietnamese. I also realized the reason he was so fast was that if he put his foot on the brake the taillight would show up and would have lead the authorities to us.
Villagers began arriving at the house church one by one going from one house to another then sneaking on into the designated house of worship. Many came early to pray for two hours before the service. Some had walked many miles in the rain just to hear God’s Word. The house had no chairs, so the church members sat on rocks or pieces of wood. They worshiped in song with no sounds of music nor their voice. They would almost clap their hands but they never touched so as to not make a noise. When the service was over the floor had pools of tears left by the worshipers. They all left quietly, reluctantly and signally just as they had arrived so as to not draw attention to themselves and the other worshipers and to me.
Each had overcome extreme travel conditions to worship, and hear the word of God, none considered it a sacrifice. They just had a desire like David, who was drawn, to worship with every fiber of his being.
For those in restricted nations, church is not optional; it is essential. In contrast, in free nations many people make up their minds each week whether or not they will attend church. Do they have time? Is it raining? Would they rather sleep late? What’s the sermon topic anyway? Who is the speaker? Shamefully, we often run through a gamut of questions trying to decide whether church is worth our time. For these people and millions of others, going to meet with God was a no-brainer. In fact, they would not let anything keep them from it.
God’s word teaches us over and again that were to help hurting people. I think that is Gods true passion to see the hopeless, helpless people receive help from us HIS people. He is passionate about the widows, orphans, the poor, the oppressed, the hungry, the naked and the homeless.
Please do not misunderstand me, I believe we are to have nice homes and drive good cars, and wear nice cloths but we are not to forget the spiritually lost, the poor and needy. We are blessed to be a blessing to those we are lead to help. I am not in any way saying we need to feel guilty for having a good life. What I am saying is that we are to evaluate our lives and resources and pray hear from the Lord a see how we are to help the needy? I do believe that it is not a matter of if but rather a matter of how much do we give.
In Gods word there are over 2000 scriptures that tell us it is our duty to help the Hungry, naked, widowed, orphaned and destitute. I now see this as a supreme privilege and honor to serve Him and His people.
We are to enjoy life no question about that. We do believe that if your involved in what Gods passion is you will life to it s fullest. You will feel in your heart a since of pride and respect that you are really helping someone have hope, to know Jesus and a chance to find and fulfill their own destiny. There is no greater feeling in the world.
We try to make it simple each month to send an envelope for you’re to send a check or to go on line to make a contribution. You can see in our newsletters that we feed lepers, children, widows, we have orphans and orphanages. We train leaders; pastors and we support native workers in the harvest fields.
We realize that you have many places, choices and demands on your money. But the bible says that when you give some of what you have to make someone else’s life better, it honors God. And when you honor God He will honor you.
Pat and I appreciate you more than you know. From the bottom of our heart we want to thank you for your generosity and faithfulness with your prayers and financial contributions that allow us to change the lives of so many in need of Gods love and compassion.
Sometimes during this economic down turn I have been tempted to embrace the idea of being content with what we are doing and just maintain. However I do not feel that is Gods plan for our work or for those who are in great spiritual darkness or in pain from hunger!
What are you passionate about?