Posted by: Simon & Becci | October 23, 2013

Fire and water

The distance from Singapore to Phnom Penh is 1200km. The distance from our house to the airport is 15 km. Yet as I sat at Phnom Penh airport on Saturday evening following a 1 hour 40 minute flight from Singapore, poor Becci remained 5 km away in a Tuk Tuk despite having left home 2 hours previously. The reason: rain, and lots of it!

The "smelly river" (i.e. open sewer) which overflowed two weeks ago...

The “smelly river” (i.e. open sewer) which overflowed two weeks ago (Photo from Phnom Penh Post)

October marks the climax and peak of the rainy season here and this year the flood waters have risen high both in the countryside and the city. The resultant impact on people’s homes and livelihoods is a lot more serious than merely a longer Tuk Tuk journey or delay at the airport. One of the poorer ladies in the church had smelly thigh-high water flowing through her small wooden house last week resulting in her losing everything she uses for cooking, and forcing her to sleep elsewhere for a number of days. The good news is that the church has helped her replace what she lost and the rain looks set to ease off very soon.

Even the Royal Palace did not escape

Even the Royal Palace did not escape (Photo from Reuters)

Meanwhile, the reason I was at the airport was that I had just returned from 4 days in Sydney meeting with the other newfrontiers team leaders from across the Pacific Rim. We enjoyed a wonderful time enjoying time with God and one another, whilst also sharing the challenges each of us face and encouraging one another.

A beach wedding last Tuesday....

Encountering a beach wedding last Tuesday….

However, as we stepped out of the church premises on Thursday it was bizarre to be met with a darkened orange sky, hazy visibility and strong smell of smoke resulting from the massive bush fires raging about 40 kilometres away. Such was the size of the blazes that they were clearly visible from space.

...and the view of the beach on Thursday at the same time of day

…and the view of the beach on Thursday at the same time of day with black smoke overhead

Local TV showed reports of blazes moving at frightening speed and devastating many homes on the western outskirts of the city.


One of the most moving moments was seeing a woman who had lost her home raking through the ashes and finding her Bible unharmed amongst the debris. It was open at a Psalm speaking of God’s nearness and faithfulness in times of trouble and brought her great comfort amid the devastation. It is amazing to know that through whatever challenges we may face God is able to work all things to good for those who love him.



  1. What a wonderful testimony of God’s provision – among the sobering realities of life in a difficult environment. Thank you so much for sharing, dear Simon & Becci. We’re with you in prayer.

  2. Seems like we brought the torrential rain with us when we came and left it with you. It’s finally starting to brighten up over here. Now we’re just having earth quakes instead! Anyway, nice to hear from you, will be praying for some sun.

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