Went to an amazing and heart-wrenching exhibit tonight called #sold. It took us through different parts of the world and highlighted the horrible human trafficking issue that are occurring TODAY! We can never say we did not know and now that we have the knowledge, we have the power to make a difference. Men, we must stop the demand and women.. We must be a voice for the voiceless. We have not only the responsible but the privilege to help set free our brothers and sisters suffering and enslaved. From child soldiers to child prostitution..from Cambodia to Washington. No one should be sold #notforsale #agapeinternationalmissions #sharedhope #ijm I pray that one day I will have the honor of working with one of these amazing organizations.

Living By Faith Can Be More Than A Bit Scary

I quit my job last night.

That sounds more dramatic than it really is, but I did tell the elders at church that I was resigning as pastor as of January 31, 2014. I have been the pastor of that church since April of 1999. That’s the longest I’ve ever had a single job. During that time our family never had to worry about money — which is to say that we were never in danger of losing our house, going without a meal, etc. We have been well taken care of. In fact, many times over the years, I have remarked that “we have everything we need, and, in reality, most of the things we want, as well.”

But last night — for the first time since it has really mattered — I effectively left one source of income without having another one to go to immediately.

Of course, if you’re reading this blog, you almost certainly know that what we’re endeavoring to do is not about “getting ahead” or securing financial stability for our family in for the foreseeable future.

However, ever since I was engaged to Pam, that’s really what is has been about, and it’s no wonder: My father, like his parents before him, was a very pragmatic man, especially when it came to money. My father worked in a bank. Once a farmer who was “having money problems” presented my dad with his budget and my dad questioned the amount this man was giving to his church. “I’m all for giving to charity, but I believe you should get back on your financial feet first.” My father was a generous man (as was his mother), but the idea of quitting a job without having another, better job secured ahead of time would have been … unsettling to him, to say the least.

And the truth is that it’s a bit unsettling to me. We have accepted an offer on our house, so we should be without a home by the end of the year. Some friends have generously offered to let us stay in a home they will not be using, so it’s not like we’ll be on the street or anything, but still …. We are beginning to raise support for living and working in Cambodia, but the necessary money is by no means in hand, or even pledged to be there in the future.

I’m not complaining. This is all by choice. Plus, it’s not like it’s something completely new. We know people who have done the very same thing and their faith has been rewarded. Still, I woke up at 2 this morning and for just a bit my mind threatened to keep me awake — picture a hamster running on a wheel through the wee morning hours. Thankfully, though, the next time I checked the clock it was 5:15, so I didn’t lay awake too long.

Pam and I are getting serious about raising support . Letters are going out, appeals are being made. It’s all a bit uncomfortable, to tell you the truth. However, the facts remain:

  • We have been moved to serve in Cambodia and we’re going in the first quarter of next year. We believe in the work AIM is doing over there and are very excited to help in this way.
  • We are asking you, if you know us, love us, and want to see God’s work done all over the world, to consider helping us do this.
  • Some have given us gifts of cash. Others have pledged to support us with regular, recurring donations. Our church has launched an effort to raise money from our community and many are working very hard to help us in this way.
  • We need your help to live by faith in this way (See the red link labeled **DONATE** on the right).

Like I said, it is a bit scary, but I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be boring. :-)

     — Derek

Thank you to the beautiful @mirasorvino and @cnn for covering this story.

Not only is Child Sex Trafficking a huge issue in the Unites States, but even more so in other countries like Cambodia where they are actually sold into the sex trade by their own mothers.

Mira is hugging a girl name Kieu, age 12, who was told by her mother she must take a job. She was first examined by a doctor who issues her a “certificate of virginity”, she was then delivered to a hotel where a man raped her for two days straight. The mother continued to sell Kieu and her other daughters to men around their 50’s with children on their own for around $1,500 each time then later to be working for the brothel. The mother used to money as their families primary income source.

In 2013, @thefreedomproject went to Cambodia with Mira to film a documentary called “Every Day in Cambodia” which looked at child sex trafficking in the country.

Kieu thankfully was rescued at age 14 by @aim_org, a non profit for trafficked and at risk children and teens.

She is not the only one, many families rely on their children from income by placing them in brothels full time. The parents can provide for the entire family without having to work by selling their children.

We must join organizations like Agape International Missions (@aim_org) to help rescue these young girls. AIM works closely with the police in Cambodia and a SWAT team to raid brothels where children are working.

As Sorvino states “The demand side really needs to be addressed, If people weren’t trying to buy child sex it wouldn’t be being sold.”

#endchildprostitution #cambodia #children #childsextrafficking #agapeinternationalmissions #aimtrue #notforsalecampaign #CNNFreedomProject #modelsofcompassion

TODAY is the Int'l Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Here are some facts we are trying to change:

*Up to 70 percent of women experience violence in their lifetime.

*Between 500,000 to 2 million people are trafficked annually into situations including prostitution, forced labour, slavery or servitude, according to estimates.

*Women and girls account for about 80 percent of the detected victims.

Make a difference today: Calling on protectors, defenders, culture-shapers, world-changers … we can change these numbers.

Catching Up, Randomly

Pam’s been sending out email updates fairly regularly, and I’ve been accused of oversharing on Facebook, so this website has been neglected, of late. However, on this Wednesday before Thanksgiving I thought I’d take a little time to share some things in this space.

First off, we’re celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, even though it’s not a holiday here — or anywhere besides the US, for that matter. The other day we were at our local “modern” supermarket (”modern” meaning Western style, not a traditional Cambodian outdoor market) and we saw some friends from church there. I asked Mike, who was there with his son, “You guys buying all sorts of things that aren’t good for you?” He replied, “Trying to, but with Thanksgiving being so close ….” At that, a woman near us turned, grinned, & said, “Americans! Talking about Thanksgiving when we already had Canadian Thanksgiving.” It was a quick, friendly exchange, but one completely different from anything you’d experience at the store in America.

Anyway, tomorrow we’re going over to Pete & Debbie’s place for Thanksgiving. Pete & Debbie are teammates of ours and have graciously offered to host the feast for the AIM expats. The menu should be pretty traditional — turkey, potatoes, dressing, sweet potatoes, pie, etc. Nearly everyone there will be American, but some of our British co-workers have come to appreciate the annual feast.

In other news:

Keep reading

Here’s one of my paintings to raise awareness of the issues of child sex trafficking throughout Cambodia. Titled: Above The Turmoil #shanegrammer #shot_of_color #sgstudios #art #aim #art_spotlight #antitrafficking #agapeinternationalmissions #modernart #modernabolition #abovetheturmoil #cambodianflowers #streetart #spraypaint

Five Months In

It’s been about three weeks since we’ve updated you on how things are going for us here in Cambodia. We’ve now been in Phnom Penh for over five months and continue to believe that things are going well. Of course, we do experience setbacks on occasion.

For me the setbacks seem to coincide with our three-times-a-week language lessons. :-) It seems that before every session, I’ve studied the grammar and vocabulary and when our tutor arrives, I’m very confident that I’m making progress … until the moment he starts speaking Khmer to us. At that point I feel like somebody who’s recently been hit on the head or something. Those words sound vaguely familiar, but there’s no way they mean anything put together like that ….

Still, even though our inability to understand can be frustrating at times, we are becoming more able to make ourselves understood. We may sound like children to a Cambodian, but at least we can make our needs and desires known. It’s just going so slowly.

In more encouraging news, we recently began conducting a marriage seminar, of sorts, for the younger Cambodian couples that are involved in the church and school that AIM has in Svay Pak. A couple of months ago, Don, AIM’s director, and his wife Bridget approached us and asked if we would be willing to hold a series of classes for several couples they believed could benefit from our experience and knowledge (they may not have said exactly that, but that’s what I choose to remember).

The result has been that on every Saturday in August, six Khmer couples are coming to our house for a couple of hours. While they’re here, Pam and I endeavor to teach them what the New Testament teaches about being married, how to live with one another, and what being a husband or wife means for the follower of Jesus. Of course, we recognize that we are not perfect examples, but we have been trying to share with them out of our weaknesses and mistakes, as well as the things we have gotten right in the past 28 years.

Of course, we hope and pray that we are giving them truly useful and practical counsel, but it has also been a great thing for us to be able to host them in our home and actually get to know some of them a bit more than we have in the past. Since our primary purpose in being here is to minister to the Westerners working with Agape, our time with Cambodians takes a back seat to our role as staff pastors.

If you’ve been praying for us, we ask that you also please pray for these young Cambodian Christians who are facing an uphill battle, since the image of marriage and family in this culture is severely broken and warped. They’re great kids, trust me.

A Midsummer Update

It’s been a while since we’ve updated the blog. Sometimes it’s seems a little bit redundant, since I share what we’re doing on Facebook to the point of possibly “oversharing.” a bit. However, we still like to keep this site up to date and let people know what’s going on via this medium.

Since the last update, we’ve spent six weeks in the US (see Multnomah Falls, OR, above) and been back in Cambodia for nearly six weeks already.

In the US, we enjoyed visiting family and friends in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and California, but the best part of our trip was welcoming our first grandchild into the world. Below is a picture of Lydia, the daughter of our daughter, Tali, and her husband, Justin. As you can see, she’s simply adorable:

Here’s another picture, this one showing four generations of women in the Baimbridge-Helt-Werber family:

Leaving the US was a little difficult, but since our return, we’ve been enjoying getting back into things like our language study and ministering to our AIM teammates. Here are a couple of pictures from a dinner we recently attended in honor of our language teacher’s daughter’s first birthday:

In the first picture, Pam is meeting the mother of our teacher, Mr. Sinet. The second picture shows some of our awesome AIM staff who also employ Mr. Sinet as their language tutor.

Thanks again to all of you who pray for us and/or support us financially. Agape international Missions is doing great work here in Cambodia. It seems like every week or two the investigative team has a hand in shutting down a brothel that is exploiting underage girls. After the raid is done and the arrests are made, the girls are placed in facilities where they are cared for physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The school in Svay Pak is adding fourth grade this coming school year, even though they don’t yet know where they’re going to put the new classes. There was a fire in Svay Pak recently: a man threw gasoline on his wife and lit her on fire. Although burned badly, she survived, but the resulting fire completely burned the houses of about 13 families, including the home of some friends of ours, a young married Khmer couple who both work for AIM. AIM has been helping these families in a variety of ways and will continue to help them — even to the point of rebuilding their homes — in the future. Please go here and here for updates on this and other recent events.

Of course, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email us and we’ll do our best to answer them for you. Until our next post.

We're Official!

We have been waiting for the day when we were finally ready to give you some real news on our progress toward our move to Cambodia.  This morning, we received word from the mission organization that will serve as our sending agency, International Outreach Ministries, that we have been accepted to work with Agape International Missions under their umbrella.  They are the 501©(3) organization that will keep us in compliance with IRS rules and allow any contributions you may want to make toward our ministry to be tax-deductible.  They actually will do much more than be our fiduciary entity, though, and it will be wonderful to have yet another layer of support available to us as we move into the next phase of our lives.

Our house has been on the market for about 2 weeks now and on Tuesday, it will be shown for the 6th & 7th times.  We are pretty excited about the interest the house is receiving—especially since this is supposed to be the slow time of year and the real estate agents haven’t had their collective walk-through yet. 

Our home church here in Newport has been extremely supportive of our transition to working in Cambodia.  We have hoped and prayed that the church would see the work to be done as something we work together as a team to accomplish and we see that prayer being answered.  We feel very fortunate to be the people who get to physically go to Cambodia while having a team in Newport supporting it financially, emotionally, and spiritually.  They are planning a benefit auction to kick off our support-raising endeavor.  Because our friend, Betty, is at the helm and has a huge group of willing helpers at her side, it looks like it will be quite the event.  If you’re in Newport on Saturday, November 23, stop by the church from 3-6 to see the silent and live auction items, wreaths and small Christmas trees for sale outright, listen to some bluegrass music performed by our house band, “Seldom Herd,” and eat some delicious appetizers.

We look forward to visiting with a small group from Monmouth Christian Church on November 6 and to meeting the AIM team in Roseville, California during the weekend before Thanksgiving. 

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.  We love to talk about the work of AIM and would love to provide any information you would like.

                                          — Pam

Happy, Happy, Happy Thanksgiving

November 27, 2013

–From Pam

The title of this post is not really a homage to Duck Dynasty, but if that makes you feel better, you may view it as such. This year, Derek & I get to celebrate Thanksgiving three times with three different very special groups of people.

Last weekend, we traveled to Northern California and spent a few days with part of Derek’s family that we have not seen in far too long. On the day of our arrival, we took part in a big family dinner with turkey, ham and all the trimmings. Thanksgiving #1. It was so good to see these people again and I’m always pleasantly surprised that when we are with people we love, even though much time and distance has separated us, it’s not difficult to just pick up the relationship again and there is such a sense of ease and acceptance. Here is part of our group after Sunday dinner at In-N-Out:

The reason we actually made the trek to California was to spend some time at the stateside offices of Agape International Missions to meet the people who work very hard here to keep the work in Cambodia running smoothly. We spent the entire day on Monday with the people in the office and got to meet a few people that we will be working with in Cambodia, too. Here is a picture from Thanksgiving #2, which we got to celebrate at lunch on Monday:

For those of you who have seen The Pink Room documentary, you might recognize Clayton, who is carving the turkey. Although we just met these people, they already feel like family.

Thanksgiving #3 will be tomorrow on the traditional day when our parents and children and some adopted family will join us at our home. We are truly looking forward to celebrating again. You can never be too thankful.

“Everything you say and everything you do should all be done for Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus.” Colossians 3:17 (NCV)

One other item: The sale of our house, which was set to close next month, has fallen through, so the house is back on the market. We have experienced a roller coaster of emotions regarding this apparent setback, but we are really feeling a sense of peace right now and trust that one way or another, this detail will be taken care of in just the right way at just the right time. All the same, please feel free to pray about this matter with us.