This past year I had the wonderful opportunity to serve with the MTW team in Cambodia! It was my third time coming back to serve with this beautiful team. I came here for 2 weeks in the summer of 2014, then another 2 weeks in the summer of 2015, and because I didn’t get enough, I decided to spend a year here. Actually, I still didn’t get enough, so I am planning to come back to serve as a long-term missionary!
I had the unique opportunity to serve at almost all of MTW’s ministry sites in Cambodia: from living in Phnom Penh in 2 different church dormitories and staying a few nights at a third to living at our 2 village ministry sites (one of which is Angjeay, where Pastor Luke lives). Because I spent time at all the different sites, I could see how God is working through all our different church plants.
Something that encouraged and inspired me is seeing the fruit after many faithful years of discipleship. Pastor Luke and Sokha Smith have been ministering to and discipling the children of Angjeay for over 7 years. Everyday, the Smiths model Christ-likeness to their students through the way they love their students and love their own family. On the weekdays they meet the needs of the students by teaching them English which will help them to find better jobs when they grow up, however during each class, they make sure there are opportunities for God to be glorified through praying, singing hymns, and reading God’s Word together. On the weekends, there are English Bible studies, guitar lessons, new believer classes, membership classes, and Sunday worship. They also teach the students to take responsibility for their own faith by having them take on roles to lead songs before classes, pray for their classes, and even teach younger students the Bible stories that they have already learned.
These were all things I got to experience during my stay in Angjeay village and got to see the fruits of when I lived in the dorms in Phnom Penh. Because the Smiths have been ministering to their community for some time, their oldest former students are finishing up college and I got to live with some of them. I can see that they love Jesus in the ways that they serve their churches in the city. For example, at Khmer Christian Church, there are 3 students who came out of Angjeay who faithfully attend church and serve a church plant in a village 2 hours away. Almost every Sunday they start their day at 6am cleaning up the church and setting up chairs before worship, sing for the praise team during service, and then right after service get in a van for a 2-3 hour ride, lead children’s worship and spend time with the students at the village church plant then finally get back home around 8-9pm. They use what they learned in Angjeay to disciple children in a different village from their home village and I have never heard them grumble or complain about this trip. They give up their free time to love, serve, and share the gospel with others. I praise God and am so joyful to see the gospel being lived out and passed from missionaries to the Khmer people and then from the Khmer to other Khmers. This is the vision of our team to equip, disciple, and train the Khmer so they can also pass these things on to their neighbors which is how we seek to live out the Great Commission that Christ calls us to. Cambodia is still around 95% Buddhist so for most people, things we see everyday and take for granted such as praying, singing praises, and reading the Bible are foreign for most people. Sometimes it is easy to be tempted to believe that what we need are new hospitals, schools, or some other programs or activities (these are all important) but what we really need is to obey God in discipling God’s people to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded us.”