Panel Discussion with Journalists from the Khmer Rouge Era

100_0312On Thursday, April, 22, the Overseas Press Club of Cambodia hosted a panel discussion with journalists who covered the Vietnam and Cambodia conflicts in the 1960s and 1970s. It was very well attended with about 1,000 people in attendance. Most of the people in attendance were foreigners making it the largest gathering of foreigners that I have observed since I have been here. The room was set up to maybe handle a crowd of 300 people, so it was crowded and difficult to hear well. The panel was very emotional as they recalled their time covering the conflicts. Thirty seven journalists were killed or went missing during the time of the Khmer Rouge take over. Below are some pictures from the event.

Cambodia Field Team Members’ Biographies

Updated – February 18, 2010


Melkie and Flor Boniao

  • Village Ministry
  • Mentoring/ Training House Church Leaders
  • Flor will be involved in Education Ministries

Melkie and Flor are both natives of the Philippines. Melkie has served in various capacities in the local church in the Philippines, preaching, teaching, and counseling. He has degrees from FEBIAS College of the Bible and the Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Philippines. He has also spent several years counseling seminary students and teaching English. His wife Flor has a background in administration and education. She has served several years at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary helping develop their education program.

The Boniaos arrived in Cambodia in the summer of 2009. Currently they are learning the Khmer language in the Chuuk villages and will be involved in mentoring village pastors and education ministries. They have three children 1) Ira Lael – 15 years old;  2) Kirk Andre – 13 years old; 3) Jabes Melki  –  9 years old.

Esther Cho

  • Village Ministry
  • Evangelizing and Discipling Students
  • Teaching English, Korean, Nursing

Esther Cho was born and raised in South Korea. She and her family immigrated to the United States when she was in her 20’s. She completed a nursing degree while in the United States. After working briefly in the US, she served her first term in Kalimantan, Indonesia. The Lord then led her to change fields to Cambodia. She arrived in country in 2006, devoted a year for language studies and then moved out to serve in the villages.

She is currently involved in operating a dormitory for students whose family cannot support them for further education (for high school). These are the students she disciples. Esther also operates an after school program (teaching English) for local students (from elementary to High school). She also teaches Bible to the students who learn English at this center and evangelizes local neighborhoods with gospel and deeds. In addition, Esther grows animals for student’s training and to provide support for the project in the future.

Her birthday is November 28th.

Darryl and Kara Dedert

  • Bible Teacher at Logos International School
  • Training City Church Leaders
  • Training Village Church leaders

Darryl grew up in Canada and belongs to the Heritage Reformed Church. His wife Kara is from Michigan and belongs to the same denomination. Darryl graduated from Kuyper College, formerly Reformed Bible College in Grand Rapids with his Bible degree and from Cornerstone University with his teaching degree.  Kara is hoping to soon finish her degree in International Relations.  The Dederts came to Cambodia in 2005. Darryl teaches Bible at Logos International School which is comprised of orphan Cambodian children, missionary kids, and upper middle class Cambodian kids.

Darryl and Kara are active in helping with our city church partner as well as teaching and training rural pastors. They have four children: Sophie (1/21/04), Noah (11/07/06), Evie (4/07/08), Calvin (11/24/09), all under the age of 6.

Lloyd and Eda Kim

  • Mentoring/ Training City Church Leaders
  • Serving local theological institutions
  • Eda is involved in training/ mentoring medical students and conducting village medical outreaches.

In 2004 Lloyd and Eda began their missions career with MTW in Manila, Philippines. Lloyd worked as the country director of a South East Asian nation in which he has helped facilitate the planting of several churches. In addition, Lloyd was able to teach and provide teaching resources for several different theological institutions, as the director of theological education for Asia-Pacific.

As a physician, Eda was involved in regional short-term medical missions and caring for the girls in one of MTW’s street kid homes in Manila. She was also homeschooling and caring for the physical needs of our MTW team.

In 2007, the Kims moved to Cambodia to initiate a new church-planting work. Lloyd is continuing his regional responsibilities while also leading the field team in Cambodia. Eda is working part time at a Christian clinic in Phnom Penh, which treats those connected to their church-planting work.

Lloyd received his M.Div from Westminster Seminary in California; and his Ph.D from Fuller Theological Seminary. Eda received her B.S. from the University of California, Berkeley and her M.D. from the University of California, San Diego, where she also did her family practice residency.

Kaelyn (6/3/00), Christian (2/27/02), Katy (11/26/05)

Dale and Nancy Knutson

  • Medical ministry
  • Mentoring/training medical students
  • Leadership training in the city
  • Conducting village medical outreaches

Nancy, a Covenant college graduate, came to Christ in her youth. Dale also trusted Christ at an early age. While attending Trinity College, Dale served as a summer missionary in Hong Kong. The experience increased his desire to serve in missions as a medical doctor. The Knutsons were married during his sophomore year at the Medical College of Georgia. The last 10 weeks of medical school were spent participating in direct patient care in Ecuador at two missions hospitals.

Since 1985, they have been active members at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. As a family, they have visited missionaries around the world and served on several short-term mission trips. Since 2003, they have served with MTW as career missionaries in the Philippines, taking intermittent medical mission trips to several other countries in Asia.

Sensing the physical and spiritual needs of the people of Cambodia, in 2008 they moved to Phnom Penh and now serve with the new MTW team in Cambodia. They will mentor medical students, participate in gospel-focused medical outreaches, and train and disciple leaders in the church. They will continue to take the gospel to other parts of Asia through medical missions.

The Knutsons have three grown children: Nathan, Joel, and Amy

Bill and Akemi Rhea

  • Assistant Executive Director for Transform Asia
  • Training City Church Leaders
  • Evangelism

Bill and Akemi Rhea are from the Dallas, TX area. Bill served as a civil court judge in Dallas for several years. He and his wife Akemi have adopted nine children: three from Cambodia, one from China, and the rest from the United States. They moved to Cambodia in April 2009 and are serving both Transform Asia and MTW.

Their call to the mission field came as they buried Akemi’s adult son, Adrain, after he was murdered in his apartment. The Rheas felt a strong call to honor their son Adrain’s wish to start an orphanage in Cambodia. Bill and Akemi are involved in our city church plant and helping us to connect with other ministry opportunities.

Their children’s names are: John, Elizabeth, Maly, Maggie, Serah, Catherine, Monichea, Frances, and Jada.

Luke Smith

  • Village Ministry
  • Mentoring/ Training House Church Leaders
  • Creating income generating and development projects in the villages

Luke grew up on a farm in west central Illinois. He went to college planning to pursue a career in agriculture. Through a couple of short-term missions trips with a campus ministry while in college Western Illinois University he started thinking about missions. Towards the end of graduate school at the University of Missouri, he was impacted by the missionary biography Through Gates of Splendor and his burden to be a missionary continued to grow. After completion of graduate school, he went to Dallas Theological Seminary to further prepare for the mission field. While in seminary, he began to have a vision to go somewhere that was unreached and poor. He continued to prepare by working with refugees in Dallas and serving in his church, New St. Peter’s Presbyterian. He was ordained as a teaching elder in the fall of 2009. Luke has been called to work in rural Cambodia with the church and training pastors. He arrived on the field in October of 2009.

Christina Thomas

  • Short Term Missions Team Director
  • Evangelizing/ Discipling Medical Students
  • Conducting village medical outreaches

Christina grew up in Talladega, Alabama. She went to university where she became a Christian and was involved in Campus Outreach – a college ministry started by Briarwood Presbyterian Church, AL (PCA). Christina went on to finish a degree in nursing and has been on several short term medical mission trips to South East Asia.

In 2008, she moved to Cambodia as a long term missionary. Currently she is serving as our short term missions director, while also mentoring and discipling Cambodian medical students. Christina is also involved in medical outreaches and teaching village health workers courses.


Damon and Young-Mi Cha

  • Mentoring/ Training City Church Leaders
  • Training Village Church Leaders
  • Serving local theological institutions
  • Young-mi will be involved with discipling women

Damon and Young-Mi’s mission experience include teaching in northeast China at Yanbian University of Science and Technology (YUST). Young-Mi served there for two and a half years while Damon served for one year. Young-Mi’s undergraduate training is in fine art, which she has used extensively as the Director of Website and Internal Design at Westminster Seminary California. She also has a Master of Arts from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in the New Testament. Damon completed his Master of Divinity at Westminster Seminary California and is finishing his PhD in Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary. He has spent the last several years serving as pastor of education at New Life Mission Church, Fullerton (PCA).

Damon will use his theological training to teach Bible students and equip church leaders in Cambodia. Young-Mi, in addition to caring for Damon and Aliya, will be involved in women’s ministries. They hope to get to the field early 2011.

They have one daughter Aliya (born 4/28/09).

Tim and Moonsook Lim

  • Mentoring/ Training City Church Leaders
  • Training Village Church Leaders
  • Serving local theological institutions

While ministering in Korea, Tim and Moon Sook developed a heart to serve the Church in Asia and received a call to Cambodia. With 50 percent of Cambodians under 21, workers are needed to teach, train, and mentor them to become Christian leaders.

Tim immigrated to the U.S. when his father accepted a pastorate in San Francisco. As a youth he was rebellious but came to faith in Christ during college. After receiving his B.A. at UC Berkeley and M. Div. at Westminster Theological Seminary, Tim was ordained a PCA teaching elder. In 2003, he went to Calvin Seminary in South Korea to teach and establish a theological education program.

Moon Sook was the first to attend church in her family, often gathering friends to join her. She graduated from Young Nam University (South Korea) and became a teacher. Tim met Moon Sook in Korea and they married in 2005.

Tim and Moon Sook decided to follow Christ to Cambodia and serve in the area of theological education by producing theological curriculum for Asian contexts, teaching in Bible schools, discipling leaders, and supporting national churches. They also hope to develop vocational outreach ministries through Korean or English teaching.

Irene (03/10/08)

Paul and Susan Lee

  • Mentoring/ Training City Church Leaders
  • Training Village Church Leaders
  • Serving local theological institutions

Paul and Susan Lee are from the New York/ New Jersey area. Paul has both undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering. While working as an engineer, Paul also has been actively involved in a Presbyterian Church plant in New Jersey. He recently finished his Masters of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and plans on getting ordained in the Korean American Presbyterian Church this fall. Susan graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Mathematics.

Paul will be involved in training church leaders and discipleship. He will also be involved in teaching Bible students. In addition to supporting husband and caring for her two children, Susan will be involved in various support roles for the ministry.

The Lees have two young children.

Alex and Jeany Jun

  • Professor of Education at Azusa Pacific University
  • Mentoring/ Training City Church Leaders
  • Jeany will be involved in Medical Ministry

Alex and Jeany have extensive short term missions experience. Jeany spent a year in Russia during her college years and Alex spent a year in China after finishing his master’s degree in education. Alex had since finished his Ph.D in education and taught for several years at the University of Southern California. He has recently taken a post as professor at Azusa Pacific University in the higher education department. His wife Jeany is a professor of pharmacy at Western University in Southern California. Alex serves as a ruling elder at New Life Mission Church, Fullerton (PCA).

The Jun family plans on moving to Cambodia in the late summer of 2010. Alex will still be employed by Azusa Pacific as a professor and will seek to establish ties with local Cambodian Universities. He will be actively involved in our city church planting efforts, training leaders, and evangelizing his various contacts in Cambodia. Jeany, in addition to caring for her three children will be involved in both university teaching and medical ministry of our team.

The Juns have three children: Natalia (3/3/01), Isaiah (11/28/04), and Jeremiah (5/1/06).

Another New Year and Language Study

Greetings from Cambodia,

The Cambodian New Year started yesterday. It is a three day celebration where most people return to their hometowns to celebrate with their families. The first day of the celebration is used to welcome new angels who will come for one year periods of time to take care of the earth. People often go to the temple to get blessed or mediate at home in hopes that an angel will stay with their family throughout the new year. The second day is a time when gifts are exchanged and donations are given to the poor. The third day is filled with more ceremonies at the temple centered around forgiveness for misdeeds against the elderly and blessing for the new year. Many businesses are closed and the city looks a bit like a ghost town, since most people return to their hometowns in the countryside. I am enjoying a few days without language school and trying to keep cool as we are now in the midst of the hot season.

Speaking of language, last week I started my second class at the Institute of Foreign Linguistics. Here is the course description of the class I am currently taking: “Students review consonants, vowels and consonant feet, and construct sentences. Topics include shopping, going to the restaurant, going to the post-office, family, school, housework, and seeing a doctor.” I have learned much in the past six months, but still feel like I have just begun the process.

Thanks for your prayers and support,


Cremation and Buddhism

100_0370The traditional practice of Theravada Buddhism, which is the majority religion in Cambodia, is to cremate the dead body. In an article on burial practices in Cambodia, Rosemary Shewry writes, “After death the body is kept in the home in a closed coffin for three days, on a block of ice and with copious tea leaves (frequently replaced) to freshen the atmosphere. Lucky paper is burnt at the foot of the coffin. The coffin is opened (so the spirit can listen) when monks visit to chant but the face remains covered with a white cloth. On the third day the body is removed to the temple (pagoda) for cremation, the body is exposed for a farewell look and the cloth covering the face is retained for good fortune. A white flag is displayed outside the house during this period and children of the deceased shave their heads and dress in white. Cremation is usually carried out in the temple and the ashes placed in an urn. The urn is placed in a stupa (also called achedi) in the pagoda grounds or within the pagoda itself” (Aspects of Burial and Cremation in Vietnam and Cambodia).

Here is a thoughtful blog post by R. Scott Clark about cremation and burial and the Christian implications to think about: To Bury or Cremate.