Because of the trauma and the betrayals its citizens have suffered in the past three decades, there is a loss of trust in each other and in the concept of community. The section on Cambodia from the School of Christian Mission course on “New Life on the Mekong” in 2001 was aptly named “The Rebuilding of Trust.” The following ministries show how this is being done:
Community Health and Agricultural Development (CHAD), originally headed by Irene Mparutsa, Leng Thy, Ken Cruz, and Katherine Parker: These four missionaries worked together to develop food security through the establishment of rice banks and raising livestock, chickens, pigs, vegetable gardens, mushrooms, and other food products.
CHAD follows a system very similar to that of Heifer International, i.e., groups of villagers decide what projects they wish to do; by-laws are written, and contracts negotiated and signed with a thumbprint. Individual groups in the various provinces meet for devotions and Bible study. Each missionary has responsibility for monitoring the projects in his/her area. In addition, arrangements are made for villagers in need of medical care to get to a clinic or hospital when such care is available. In addition, Katherine Parker taught villagers how to test for contaminants in the water. The use of water filters is gaining ground. Irene Mparutsa has now retired and Katherine Parker is currently assisting with the development of safe water resources in Nepal. UMC staff and Cambodian trainees are filling in for Irene and Katherine, which is a good thing because it means that Cambodians are slowly taking responsibility for community health and food security. Contributions to all ministries can be made by sending a check to the Conference Treasurer with the appropriate Advance number written in the memo. For items under CHAD, please use Advance #14916A
Street Children’s Ministry, headed by Clara Biswas: Clara is a community worker assigned to Phnom Penh to minister to street children, families living and working in dumpsite areas, women and children in resettlement areas, children in orphanages, and HIV-AIDS victims.
Clara works to enroll children in local public elementary and high schools with the aid of scholarship gifts ; networks with NGOs to place youth in vocational training when further education is not possible; arranges for children to attend Sunday School and to take English and computer classes; organizes Christmas and Easter pageants; takes street children on outings once a year to a water park; and networks with the Maryknoll group to help AIDS victims. Clara’s latest project was setting up a feeding program for women and children in the resettlement areas. To support this program, use Advance # 14921A .
Women’s Livelihood Projects, headed by Missionaries Marilyn Chan and Esther Gitobu: The women’s ministry was begun in l998 by Marilyn Chan. The goals are to empower women to see themselves as created in the image of God and become leaders in the family, church, and society.
Livelihood projects are funded initially through the United Methodist Women and then through tithing and the passing on of the gift to other women. Projects include raising vegetables and fruits, livestock, fish, silk weaving, basket and hammock weaving, noodle making, and sewing (machines required for the latter two). Empowerment programs include leadership training and conflict resolution, as well as Bible Women’s training. Use Advance #3020788 for Women’s Livelihood Projects and Advance #3020789 for Women’s Empowerment and Leadership Training to support these programs.
Faith Engine Ministry (FEM), currently headed by Instructors An Srorn and Ly Putthy, both graduates of FEM. Students master the basic safety and tool-use guidelines and learn a broad spectrum of automotive and motorbike repair and maintenance skills.
Driving instruction, welding, and basic computing are also taught. Future plans include offering English classes. Prospective students are drawn from rural villages on the recommendations of pastors and village elders. Scholarships provide for room and board and tuition for the 14 week course. Upon the completion of their course work, students can either go into business for themselves in their local communities or obtain employment with repair shops in the cities, thus helping to support their families. Use Advance #14923A to support these young folks.
Christian Education/Curriculum Development: Curriculum particular to the culture and needsis being developed for Sunday School and Bible study to serve the growing number of Christians. In 10 years, from l991 to 2001, the number in all denominations grew from 200 to 60,000.
A Methodist seminary was established in 2000 and the school graduated its first class in 2003. Young people are turning to the church in droves even though many of their parents are Buddhist; 70% of the population is under 30. The potential for carrying out Jesus’ command to go forth and make disciples is unlimited; children/youth outnumber the adults at worship services by ratios as much as 4/5:1. Use Advance #3021536 to support Christian Education and Curriculum Development.
Children and Youth Scholarship Program: While public school education is free, children do not attend school if they do not have uniforms and school supplies. Missionaries and pastors identify children in the villages without parental support and street children in the cities and try to find scholarship funds so that these young people do not become victims of human trafficking.
To send scholarship support for these at-risk children, use Advance #3020791.
As the Cambodian Methodist Mission gears for independence by 2016, a major concern is preparing for leadership. While funds are needed across the board for all ministries, timely support for development is crucialin this area. Scholarships for high school and college students are needed to educate for leadership. Teams are needed to model leadership through partnering with Cambodian churches to teach VBS, Bible study, pastoral training, and a host of other needs, including conflict resolution and medical training. Lastly, because of strong and effective leadership from Country Director Romy del Rosario, ably assisted by Missionary Esther Gitobu, and help with evangelization and church growth from Missionary Joseph Chan, Cambodian Christians are helping to lift their country out of the morass of the preceding decades.