Cynthia's Testimony - Cambodia Ministry

May 28, 2020

Cambodia is a place where Jesus is not known.  Their religion is Buddhism. However, this nation is very open to any religion and they warmly welcome Christians. What seems to be difficult here is to get their trust and commitment… but… Nothing is impossible with God!  He is mightily at work!  This country is also called “The Kingdom of Wonders”.  But I am claiming that this land will be “the Kingdom of God’s Wonders”.

After a lot of prayers and consideration, finally I said Yes to God for His calling for me to do mission in Cambodia.  God reminded me, “I have prepared and equipped you to go on cross-cultural missions.  Not all Christians are called, trained and ready for this”. And so I said, “YES” and I had peace.

Why Cambodia? First, I prayed for it. Second, when I read its history, I felt the pain of its people who were devastated during the civil war. In my spirit, I heard their cry for revival and restoration. Third, due to the genocide of the civil war, Cambodia’s population is made up of 70% youth (below 25 years old). This means that there is a big chance that I will still be working with the youth, which is my passion.  God granted also another desire of my heart to minister to Chinese people.  He brought me to the Anglican Church, Chinese congregation in Phnom Penh.  Through them, I was able to meet some Chinese believers and unbelievers.  I don’t know anybody in Cambodia and thru friends’ referrals, I’ve contacted some and this church was the first one who invited me and received me in Cambodia.  I visited China and spend time with Chinese Christians and some unbelievers many times before I visited Cambodia, hence my love for them was developed.

After my exploratory trip for 2 months in Cambodia in 2013, I went to Phnom Penh, for my official mission in January, 2014.  I first stayed in a preschool house and teach children believing that they are our means to reaching the adults.  Then I moved in the premises of the Anglican church trying to partner with them. I teach their staff English and teach the children Bible stories in English so they could also learn the language.  

Then in 2015, God led me to a dormitory.  Every week I go to a dormitory managed by a local Pastor, to teach them basic discipleship and English the following day.  I sleep there already coz it’s far from where I’m staying.  This way our relationship was established. We also had outings and other activities.

Apartment Ministry, 2016

In my desire to have my own ministry among the young people for discipleship and training, I rented an apartment in February 2016 where I invited students to stay with me.  These students came from the different provinces of Cambodia and are working students and most of them do not know Jesus when I first met them.  It took them 6 months to 1 year before believing and trusting in Him. I had already 4 batches of students who stayed with me and one already passed away due to stomach cancer.  We meet 4 times a week for Bible Study, prayer, Quiet time and personal time as needed.  I also teach English and we have fun times occasionally.  I also visit their families in their villages and eat whatever they serve.  

Staying with young people of different culture is challenging.  There are times I feel like giving up on them, but God always reminds that He is the One who is mightily at work in their lives and encourages me to keep on… and persevere for our labor in Him will not be in vain.  His ways and timings are perfect.   God is teaching me a lot in the area of love, patience and perseverance, extending His grace that I’m receiving every day and total dependence in the Sovereignty of our God Almighty.   Now there are 5 ladies staying with me, 3 of them are already very sure of their salvation. The other 2 who moved in last November 2018 had zero knowledge about God and Jesus just like the others.  They and told me they have to know more about Jesus to believe in Him, which is a valid response by anyone. How can you trust/believe in someone you do not know?  They were also waiting for something or a proof that Jesus’ stories are real cause whenever I asked them if they believe the stories that we read in the Bible, their response would be “not sure, I have to see to believe”. Exactly after a year, November 2019, these 2 ladies, Sokmon & Kimchheav received Jesus Christ as their personal Savior & Lord. Nothing supernatural happened to them but God just convicted them to believe in Him as they came to know Him more thru our Bible Study and because they were amazed at how I was 101% sure of my faith in Him.

Village Ministry, 2018

Phally and Srey Em stayed with for less than a year and are the most mature among them in their new-found faith.  They both live in the same village in Kandal province

When I asked about their dreams, Phally said, “My dream after I finish school is to go back to my village and build a school for the children. I want to provide them quality foundational education and encourage especially the girls to get education because here in Cambodia, women have no voice, they’re just good for the home.  However this belief is changing now because more women are becoming educated and starting to get high positions at work ”.  

For Srey Em, “For me I would like to establish a business that would help the people in my community and support the school of Phally”.  

Rarely will young people wanted to go back to their own villages and help develop it.  Most young people wanted to remain in the city, find a good job or go abroad and earn big income.  

January 2018, they approached me and asked me to help in the development of their village and its people.  Surely, I said, Yes! So we prayed about this… and discussed “what do they want to do or see happen in their community” Of course, we dreamed something BIG/Great things to happen in their community, but wait… I suggested let’s do first something that we could immediately start.  Let’s start with the children!  We believe that doing transformational development work through the children is a good start.  It is also an avenue to reach the adults in the family.  It may take long to see results but it will be more sustainable.  Since Phally is taking Education and it’s her dream to establish a school in their village, I challenged her “We can start a weekend School where we can teach the children about God.  We can teach values through Bible stories and through them their families will be reached out.  

February, we went to the village and prayed around the neighborhood. March 3, we went there early morning and invited the children to come and learn with us in the afternoon.  12 children came.  We just teach them some English songs, and action words, played with them and let them color something.  We didn’t share anything about God yet because we don’t want the parents to be surprised that we are already introducing another belief to their children.  Since then we continued on to meet every Sunday.  And these 2 ladies no matter how difficult to travel using their motorbikes especially during rainy season didn’t want to miss any Sunday meetings. I saw their passion and commitment being developed as they enjoy and see the fruits of their labor.  Phally gave up her weekend job and Srey Em didn’t look for a job for 3 months.  

We then started to introduce the existence of God through Bible stories and also teach values, English and simple Math & Science.  First session, we gather them all together and I teach English songs and introduce new vocabularies.  Then Phally reviews it to them and after that shares Bible stories in Khmer language.  Then we divided the children into 2 groups.  Phally takes care of the older ones, ages 7 above and Srey Em takes care of the younger children, ages 6 below. Everytime we meet new children are added and now we have an average of 20-35 children every Sunday.  So we now divided them into 3 groups and I handle the nursery group.  Sometimes Phally’s niece and Srey Em’s sister help us.  Once in a while student volunteers try to help us too.  The children have already learned some new vocabularies in English and the small children learned their ABC’s and counting 1-10 and the older children learning conversational English.  The concept of God and godly values were taught to them through Bible stories.  Our first story was about creation, and after our class, one child was very excited to share with his relatives that there is Someone (God/Jesus) who created everything around us including man and woman.  We also did an evangelistic Christmas program and 47 children came with their parents or other members of the family (about 20 adults) and a local Pastor shared the story of Christmas to them.  Now we have already planted the seed of the gospel and we just entrust the rest for God to do His part in the salvation of the village people. Then we started to teach the children about prayer and the power of Jesus.  

We started meeting inside the house of Phally.  Sometimes, it was difficult to catch their attention, because they hear one another. There’s no division in the room.  Then, we put up a cover/roof at the side of Phally’s house and 2 groups (the older ones) meet there and the pre-schoolers meet inside the house.  It was dusty out there but the children didn’t mind.  We dreamed wishfully and prayed that someday we will build a house where we can use as a school.  God answered our prayers!  The Korean family where Srey Em worked before as a helper, volunteered to finance the construction of the school. We started to use the building last July 2019.  It has 3 classrooms and a library with big whiteboard/classroom.  We also have old toys, chairs and tables donated by friends, the Korean family and Phally’s former boss, a Filipino family.  She used to work with them too as a helper.

Ministry with Christ Lutheran Church. 2020

Last year 2019, I met some students attending a local congregation of Lutheran Church.  They invited me in their church and ask if I could help them in their women’s ministry.  They are just a small church of local Cambodians and local pastors.  So I attended their worship service last year until now.  This year, I have talked with their leadership on how I can help.  They emphasized the Women’s group since nobody is taking care of them.  I accepted the challenge, made friends with some of the women who understand and speak English. However, we were not able to meet formally due to Covid-19 restrictions of gathering together.  I also helped the Pastor’s wife in teaching the children in their community.  I also offered my help to disciple a few young people who he thinks are already ready for the training.  Right now, I’m preparing a discipleship plan for the older women and for the youth.  Hopefully we could start when things go back to normal.

Prayer Concerns:

·       That Phally & Srey Em’s desire to help transform their family & community will keep burning in their hearts until they see it fulfilled thru God’s power, love & grace. Pray for their family’s receptivity to the gospel of Christ.

·      A teachable heart for the children and that they will understand and believe the Word of God. May their families see changes in their lives/attitudes as Jesus transforms them so that through them their families will also be attracted to Jesus Christ and will believe in His story and mission.

·      For sensitivity to God’s direction on how to help develop and transform Svay Om Phear village & its people.

·      For the community people to have open minds & hearts to learn & unlearn whatever values, beliefs and worldviews they had so that by God’s grace they will be able to experience the redemptive power of the gospel.

·      For protection & strength as we travel every week for around 1.5 hours using a motorbike.

·      Finances for transportation, materials & food to keep this ministry going.

·      For more love, understanding and grace as I minister to the ladies that are staying with me.  That God in His own ways will continue to encourage me especially in times that I feel like giving up.

·      For my new Ministry with the Lutheran Church.  To just follow God’s leading and wisdom on how He can use me to equip their leaders.

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