Seeing God's Light in the Midst of Cambodia's Darkness

In August a team of 35 people from the Xenos college and adult ministry spent two weeks in Cambodia. Team member Brian Adams gives this first-hand perspective on the trip:

The country of Cambodia is called “The Kingdom of Wonder,” but many would define it these days as a kingdom of oppression. Cambodia has been subjected to heartbreaking tragedy, culminating in the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s—and the country still feels the effects. Yet in spite of the tragedies and their lingering effects, God is doing an amazing work there that brings a fresh perspective of joy and hope!

During our time in Cambodia, our team was certainly broken emotionally by the difficulties these people have gone through—that none of us could imagine. However we were also encouraged beyond what we could have imagined by the work God is doing in this country. And it’s work that people here in Columbus have directly helped make possible (See how you can support this work at the end of the article).

We began our trip learning about Khmer culture, visiting temples, learning history, experiencing traditional dances, learning some of the language and trying Khmer food for the first time. We learned about folk Buddhism & animism, and had some wild experiences like eating fried tarantulas!

When we entered our work week, some members of our team went to the Friendship School in Kampong Cham to teach the Bible and provide medical outreach support. The rest of our team worked with Fountain of Hope staff and new Christians from across the country. Some of us ran a VBS camp, others planted mango trees for the church, some collected case studies and captured photos of the workers and culture, and the rest taught the book of Acts to the staff and new Christians. At VBS, we saw two kids start a relationship with Christ!

Beyond our work, we were able to make friendships with the Khmer workers. We ended each work day with soccer, America vs. Cambodia (our team managed to win the championship on Thursday!). We could sense the truth to 1 Corinthians 12:13 that we are all in one body, because, despite not being able to speak one another’s languages, we built deep connections with these people. That is only possible through the Holy Spirit!

Alex Pack was among the many members struck by the joy of the Lord in the Khmer people: “God showed me how much joy I could have in Him. I saw people everyday who went without their basic needs being met, but they still gave the Lord all that they had. They were filled with joy to the brim of their hearts and that is something I want to cultivate in my own life.”

If we could define the Khmer people with one word, it would be “joyous.” Never before have we seen such a powerful recognition of the amazing gift that is God’s grace. The Khmer people live out the joy of the Lord in such a way that it has a tangible effect upon you. On Thursday night we had the “party party” where we all celebrated our week together. There was such an incredible amount of joy—laughing, dancing, and singing.

"One thing I learned from the Khmer believers was an attitude of complete obedience to Christ,” said team member Derek Antunes. “They would often make the statement: ‘I don’t want to do...some act of spiritual service or step of faith...because I am scared, lazy, etc., but I realize I must do this.’ This was not out of some legalistic mindset, but from a proper understanding of how God’s grace should shape everything we do. It brought new light to 2 Corinthians 5:14-15: ‘For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;  and He died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.’”

Nicole Lorenz had this to say about the trip, “I had heard about all the things God is doing in Cambodia for years, but getting to meet the people, see the places, and understand where our money and prayers are going and what is being accomplished was incredible. Getting to experience it all makes me want to challenge myself to live more simply, and give more sacrificially to God’s work in Cambodia.”

Our team thanks all of you for your financial support and especially your prayer support during our trip. We could feel the effects every day. Thank you so much!  We all feel so grateful to have a church like ours with a heart for Cambodia, and our hearts were refreshed by God by partaking in this work. As team member Mike Sanda said, “Teaching, serving, learning and building in unity with our team, God affirmed His promises to me that there is refreshment and joy in serving Him.”

“And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fall.” –Isaiah 58:10-11

We encourage you to learn more about Cambodia, and support them financially as well as in your prayers! You can learn more at Fountain of Hope and Friendship School