Tommy Downs

Tommy Downs

A Servant of Jesus Christ


“How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof!”

(Proverbs 5:12, ESV2011)

I’ve always hated exercise and self-discipline. Almost as if I believed order was unecessary and contrary to the holy spirit. But alas, I’ve seen the results of my own negligence: disobedient rowdy children, unreliable workers, and discord amongst the bretheren. God is a god of order and self-control actually.

I wrongly assumed that if I didn’t correct people and instead just prayed for them and encouraged them that God would do the work of convicting them and changing them. I was naive, yes, but in my 30 years of life I’ve done nothing but avoid conflict and try to avoid responsibility for others.

But I saw that my permissiveness was not grace, it was indifference, neglect, and cowardice.

The Oddar Meanchey team

Just a month ago I had just 3 Cambodians under me, but now because Charles, Matt, and Kim are in the States, I now have 12 (and an American). So with the help of their advice, I implemented a stricter schedule with consequences for tardiness. To my amazement, they immediately took to it and become amazingly punctual, attentive and early people. (I realized that it was never their fault, it was our fault for not doing things differently)

So finally, I also then took responsibility for my little team of 5 (we gained one) and apologized for not leading them better, I then corrected my disciples for the problems that we’ve had for almost a year. They received it rather well and we’re growing stronger now.

Before I had thought the issues were their fault, but I’ve come to realize that it was merely my fault for being a weak leader. To be a leader is to take responsibility.

It’s contrary to my nature, but I’ve been confronting just about everyone (in a gentle way) so that they can wake up and they can move forward. I would rather sit back and let other people make all the decisions, but I have responsibility now and to not accept it would cause grief and disorder to us all.


Most of the time ministry seems rather slow and people seem closed to the gospel. But we’ve seen our persistence gradually open people up to Jesus. People who couldn’t read have started to listen to the Bible on their radios every day and meditate on the word of God. Every day we encourage and teach the believers we know and we find more and more people who are interested. Usually in Cambodia people will listen to the Bible and not really remember it, but two months ago we gave this grandma in Srah Keo a radio and now she rattles off scripture and asks questions about it and makes connections of her own. Won’t be long before she knows the Bible better than I do, I’m serious.

I’ve been buying radios and loading memory cards with the Bible like crazy and I’m working on getting a Chinese account opened up so that I can buy them in bulk at wholesale prices.

I also now see the need and thus I look forward to us being able to train Cambodians on our new Cambodian base where they can break free from their old habits and cares. We have raised $35,000 and only need $35,000 more to buy the rest of the land for the deadline in March.


Christmas parties are really a big deal for Christians in Cambodia, so we had a lot of them. Also Amy and Thanak threw an amazing new year’s party like they always do. Their party is always a highlight of my year, so many old friends getting together and hearing awesome testimonies about how God is changing the lives of people in Cambodia.

I don’t live near Amy and Thanak and so I don’t see them often, but they are the first Cambodians I ever met in my life and they were instrumental in persuading me to come to Cambodia. Right now Thanak is in America for his first time ever for a month (and by himself at that).


Pray for me, I don’t want to be too strict in my dealings and I don’t want to do anything not out of love but I still have to keep unity and order amongst and in the teams.

I’m growing, learning, and changing (like always I guess), and I pray you are as well.