(July 26, 2020) Robert and Maureen McQuillan bring a timely challenge…

Every day TV news in our state of Victoria (and worldwide for that matter) announces more new covid-19 cases and people are talking either about the next stage of lockdown, the loss of business, revenue and jobs.

And the big questions: ‘Where’s it all going to end, what’s next, and what will tomorrow bring?’

It’s a matter of living one day at a time – and making the best of every day! The reality is that none of us what tomorrow will bring.

Oh we can make plans for each new tomorrow and believe we can/will accomplish them… and most times we will without any hassles, especially when we rely on the Holy Spirit’s help.

But… life is life and every now and then something goes amiss and we can get thrown for a sixer, sometimes a catastrophe, some horrible disaster that can ruin us in some or several ways hits us.

And when that happens to Christians, our faith can be so shattered that we could easily lose confidence in ourselves, even our trust in our caring God. We can even feel that life isn’t worth living or caring about, that we don’t want to go on because we can’t work it out. (more…)


(June 7, 2019) Carol Round encourages us to ensure our ‘inner house’ is clean…

Psalm 51:10 TLB speaks of ‘being cleaning’ – being filled with clean thoughts and right desires.

I like a clean house. But, as I grow older, it seems to take me longer. But what used to take me three to four hours on a Saturday morning, now takes all day – and then some. I attribute it to my wandering mind, or should I say forgetfulness.

Here’s how it works
I start in one room, usually the master bath, with intentions of working my way from north to south.

However, while wiping the bathroom mirrors clean, I remember something I need to do in the kitchen, like thawing a frozen chicken for my supper. After taking care of that task, I see something else that needs doing while I’m there.

Then I notice the trash is overflowing, so I remove the bag and deliver it outside to the garbage can. (Some of you can probably relate).

By the time I return to the master bath, I’ve wasted time. It also requires me to refocus on my original task. Now where did I put that bottle of Windex?

Cleaning out the unnecessary
In the process of a recent house cleaning, I decided to go through cabinets, drawers and closets to rid myself of things taking up space. I’m blessed with an abundance of storage in my house. I’m also a coupon clipper and redeem them to stockpile items I need before the coupons expire. (more…)


(March 19, 2018) George Forbes, missionary spokesperson, reflects on the real Easter message…

The gospel is the best good news on earth!

It has been so since Jesus died on a cross at Calvary and rose again from the dead on the third day. The Easter holiday season exists because of the gospel.

I’m wondering: How will you celebrate Easter this year?

All-important declaration
The apostle Paul puts the key events of that first Easter clearly and powerfully in chapter 15 of his first letter to the Corinthians.

  • He opens with the all-important declaration of what he called the ‘gospel.’
  • Reminds the Corinthians that he had preached the gospel to them.
  • That they had received it.
  • Were believers who not only received this gospel but believed
  • Then warns them that they should continue in this faith – or they would have believed in vain.

Paul then repeats the gospel he had taught them some time before, beginning with the fact that the death of Jesus Christ was according to the scriptures.

In other words, it was a fulfilment of prophecy that Christ would die for our sins, be buried and rise from the dead on the third day. (more…)


GLEANINGS (May 19, 2017):

  • ALBANY, OR – Healing power of prayer
  • GROVE, OK – Forgiveness and healing
  • VIETNAM/ENGLAND – 25 years of caring for orphans
    _____________________________________________________________________________________THE STUNNING SCIENCE BEHIND THE HEALING POWER OF PRAYER
    Dr Don Colbert ( shares good news…Even a mere 30 seconds of prayer, acknowledging God and giving thanks for all the blessings in your life, can have a powerful effect on your body, mind, and spirit.If you have a regular practice of prayer, then you are well aware that benefits are very real and wide-ranging. Many people who engage in these activities report psychological and spiritual benefits such as a sense of greater clarity, purpose, gratitude, presence, sense of connection, and overall well-being. However, these sorts of subjective benefits can be hard to measure scientifically.A beneficial ancient practice
    Interestingly, despite the difficulty in quantifying the spiritual effects of prayer, there have been many studies looking at the physical benefits of this ancient practice. (more…)


Jim McClure
(September 17 , 2016)
Dr Jim McClure, respected theologian, continues his series on some scripture words…

The Hebrew and Greek words of scripture are like inexhaustible mines and one finds new treasures each time the words are examined. This month, for number 2 in this series, I have selected ‘mercy’ and sought to open up this word up to reveal just some of the amazing truths and treasures it contains.

The Quality of Mercy racham
In the Old Testament, especially in the KJV, the word ‘mercy’ is frequently used to translate the Hebrew word, chesed.  We could define chesed as the sure and steadfast covenant love of God for his people (however this is a word that we shall explore more full in a later study).  ‘Mercy,’ therefore is a most inadequate translation of chesed. (more…)


Jim McClureDr Jim McClure, noted theologian, brings a biblical answer of hope to troubled souls…

At times I get theological questions from troubled people. Recently someone opened up to share a deep concern:  ‘I’ve been told that there is an unforgivable sin. Does the Bible really say that, and, if it does, how do I know whether or not I have committed it?

Actually a number of people, even searching non-Christians, have poised this question over the years gives. And it gives rise to another question – ‘Is it possible to commit such a big sin or so many sins that we can go beyond the point where we can be saved?’ (more…)


Stephen Hanna
Stephen Hanna reminds us of a great Christmastime truth…

There’s an object that is very much part of the furniture at this time of year. In many homes, it‘s the first thing put up and the last to be taken down. For some, Christmas would not be Christmas without it. I am, of course, referring to the Christmas tree! (more…)


Ed DelphEd Delph shares another thought-provoker…

One of the biggest challenges in life is not allowing a temporary negative to become a permanent negative. It is hard to be rejected and not affected. It’s even harder to forgive someone who has betrayed or disappointed us in some way. (more…)


Mark EllisMark Ellis brings another great testimony of God’s goodness:

As a 19-year-old lifeguard in Laguna Beach, California he was living the lifestyle many only dream about.

‘In the beginning, everything was a new adventure that reminded me of stories I had read as young kid,’ says Dale Ghere. In his free time he dived for abalone, lobsters, clams and halibut. He also pushed beyond his comfort zone with night dives, swimming through blowholes, and making rock rescues. (more…)


Mark Ellis

Mark Ellis, seasoned ASSIST senior correspondent, brings this great testimony of forgiveness and grace:

After the Khmer Rouge came to power in Cambodia, Christopher LaPel lost his privileged lifestyle and nearly his life. After he found Christ in a refugee camp, he became a soul-winner himself – bringing hope to one of the most notorious monsters of the killing fields.

‘I was raised in a Buddhist family,’ says the founder of Hope for Cambodia. His father worked in King Sihanouk’s palace and, as a boy, Christopher often spent time there.

One day he asked a palace engraver, ‘Could you make a cross for me?’ He had seen the iconic symbol atop churches in Phnom Penh, but didn’t know what it meant. He began to wear an ivory cross around his neck.

But one evening at dinner, the cross slipped into view from the inside of his shirt. Christopher’s father saw it for the first time and his face grimaced. With a low growl, he let out an expletive and said, ‘I don’t like you to wear that.’

Christopher LaPel


Christopher LaPel

Set back by his father’s visceral reaction, the younger LaPel agreed to take it off. ‘Before every meal I removed it, even though I loved it,’ he recalls.

‘A cross’ and grace
In 1975, when Christopher was in his late teens, the Khmer Rouge came to power. Led by Pol Pot, they demanded the entire population of 2.3 million vacate the capital city of Phnom Penh within three days, including the elderly, children, monks, doctors and nurses, hospital patients, wounded and sick people, even mothers who had just given birth.

Christopher saw the entire city emptied. The evacuation turned into a three-year ordeal, with most of the population enduring extreme hardships. ‘Nearly everyone was either executed, faced starvation or worked to death,’ he recounts with sadness. During the violent rule, 2.5 million perished, almost a third of the population in what became known as the Cambodian genocide.

His parents both died, along with a brother and sister. ‘They forced my father to work until he died,’ he says. His mother and sister worked 14-16 hour days doing hard manual labour until they died. His brother was executed.

Christopher worked in the fields with other young people. ‘We worked 16-hour days with our hands,’ he says. His body got weaker and weaker due to the workload and lack of adequate nutrition. He got sick and missed work for three days. ‘Usually they killed you if you missed work three days,’ he notes.

On the third night, Christopher received a call to report to the army headquarters. ‘Everyone they called at night never came back; they disappeared,’ he says. They took him to a hut where they yelled at him to get down on his knees. ‘Are you really sick?’ one officer demanded.

Weak and almost delirious from fever, Christopher could barely keep from falling over. His cross fell off from his neck and he grabbed it, clutching it in his hand. ‘He really looks sick,’ one officer said. ‘Why don’t we let him rest?’

Christopher couldn’t believe his ears. Even more amazing, he was transferred to a hospital. While he couldn’t understand the meaning of the cross, he felt that in some mysterious way, it bought him a measure of grace in these desperate circumstances. His body recovered sufficiently for him to return to work, but shortly after that Vietnam invaded Cambodia. He was only 35 kilometres from the Thai border and, one night, the Khmer Rouge disappeared. ‘That night we ran for our lives,’ he recalls.

He had no idea where his family might be – or if any of them were still alive – but he fled across the border into Thailand, and landed in the Khao- I-dang Refugee Center run by the UN. When he arrived at the camp he realised that he’d lost his cross.
Christopher LaPel 2



Khao-I-Dang refugee camp once held 160,000 refugees

On that first day at the camp, a call went out for translators and, because he could speak some English and French, he was chosen.

Committing to follow Jesus
Christopher met a UK missionary working with Christian Outreach. ‘She spoke to me personally in French and Thai,’ he recounts. ‘She told me that Jesus died on the cross for my sins.’ His eyes grew wide as he suddenly, at last, understood the meaning of the cross.

The woman explained the gospel message to him, and Christopher surrendered his life to Jesus. ‘I rejoiced in that moment,’ he recalls. He felt peace, joy, love and hope flood his soul in ways he had not felt before. ‘I want to tell my people about Jesus,’ he told her. ‘I want to serve him the rest of my life.’

As Christopher began to follow Jesus, he experienced a ‘180-degree change’ in his life. He also met a young Christian woman named Vanna who became his wife.

Through some remarkable circumstances, they were able to emigrate to the United States in 1980. ‘Only married a week, we arrived in Nebraska,’ he recalls. Five years later, they moved to Long Beach, California, and Christopher attended Hope International University. He was eventually ordained and became active in a Cambodian-American church.

In 1992, Christopher made his first trip back to Cambodia. He began to minister in the refugee camps, just as he had been ministered to as a younger man. He was also on a quest to find his family. Sadly, he discovered the horrible outcome of the killing fields for his parents and two siblings. But four of his brothers and sisters were still alive! ‘I found them and they were all able to come to America and become believers,’ he says.

With one of his American church elders, they went to Cambodia and planted a small fellowship of believers in the Battambang area. ‘We started with one, then it grew to five, then the fellowship grew to 27, then 56,’ he says. Today, there are 150 churches planted in northwest Cambodia that grew from that one fellowship. Average Sunday attendance at these churches is 7,500.

A killer comes to Christ
Where death once reigned in the killing fields of northwest Cambodia, new life has arisen in Christ. Perhaps one of the most remarkable stories of a transformed life happened after Kang Kek Iew, also known as Comrade Duch, showed up at one of the leadership training seminars Christopher conducted in 1995.

Duch was using an assumed name, Hang Pin, and did not want anyone to know his true identity. He had been the head of internal security for the Khmer Rouge and headed the infamous S-21 prison camp in Phnom Penh where thousands were tortured and killed. Of the 17,000 who entered the doors of S-21 as prisoners, only 10 are known to have survived.

After prisoners were interrogated and tortured, Duch personally ordered their executions with chilling notations to his underlings. Notes found after the war included his command to ‘smash to pieces,’ written on a list of teenagers and children, or to ‘take away for execution’ or keep for ‘medical experiment’ on a list of women.

Christopher LaPel 3


Mass graves in a former orchard became known as the killing fields
Blood was completely drained from over 100 prisoners to use for transfusions on wounded Khmer Rouge soldiers. In many ways, Duch ranks as one of the worst war criminals in modern history – seemingly beyond redemption. Christopher took note of him when he came to one of the prayer meetings. ‘He had recently lost his wife and he was hopeless and depressed,’ he says.

At the end of the meeting, Duch approached. ‘My sin is so deep,’ he told Christopher who encouraged him, ‘As long as you confess your sins and turn away from them and believe on the Lord Jesus, you will be saved.’

Duch’s head hung down, as he recognised his responsibility for thousands of deaths and atrocities in the killing fields. As tears rolled down his cheeks, he confessed his sin, and realised that the penalty for all those sins – and the enormous burden of guilt he carried – had been transferred to Jesus on the cross.

Conversion, change, commission and confession
‘The next day I baptised him and his life completely changed,’ Christopher says. ‘He moved from the back row of the church to the front.’ Christopher knew he had done some horrible things in his past, but still didn’t know his true identity or the extent of his war crimes.

After two weeks, Duch went back to his village and started a house church that quickly grew to 14 families. With training and oversight from Christopher, Duch became a lay pastor. Christopher also led Duch’s sister to Christ.

In late 1998 or early 1999, Christopher received a letter from Duch asking for prayer. He planned to publicly confess his crimes and turn himself over to government authorities. What kind of crimes did he commit? he wondered.

When Christopher learned Duch’s true identity, he could barely speak. The man he had led to Christ was one of the key leaders of the Khmer Rouge – who were responsible for killing his parents, two siblings, and thousands of his countrymen.

Christopher LaPel 4




Christopher reading Bible with Duch in prison
In 2007, Duch was formally charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity by an UN-backed court in Cambodia. During the trial, Duch was taken to the site of the former prison camp. Overwhelmed by the horrible memories – and God’s transformative power in his life – he said, ‘I ask for your forgiveness – I know that you cannot forgive me, but I ask you to leave me the hope that you might.’

Duch admitted his crimes before the court, including his role in the deaths of some 12,000 prisoners, and received life in prison due to the ‘shocking and heinous’ nature of his crimes, with no chance of appeal.

Jesus – forgiveness and hope
Christopher testified at Duch’s trial. For an hour and a half, he shared about the power of Christ to lead a person to repentance and of God’s grace. He talked about Christ’s ability to transform and rebuild a life. He did not ask for leniency for Duch, but spoke about the reality of his remarkable change. International lawyers, judges, and 500 spectators listened in rapt attention.

After Duch was imprisoned, it was 10 years before Christopher saw him again. When they met, Christopher did not react with hatred or anger due to the prior deception or Duch’s role in his own family’s loss. Instead, he looked Duch in the eye and said, ‘I love you and I forgive you.’

Duch is still in prison and has worn out one Bible that Christopher replaced with another. ‘I meet with him every time I go to Cambodia,’ Christopher says. ‘We pray, break bread, and have communion together.’

‘We are all guilty sinners,’ Christopher notes. ‘Jesus Christ is the only hope of the Cambodian people. He is the only one who can change a life from a killer to a believer.’

Mark Ellis is founder of the acclaimed Also recommended: