It was a moving moment to step out of the bus and see for the first time the new church built in the Kampong Cham Province in Cambodia, primarily from funds provided by LCA congregations in Epping and Newcastle NSW and Woden ACT. Just 12 months earlier we stood under a tree on the same […]
It was a moving moment to step out of the bus and see for the first time the new church built in the Kampong Cham Province in Cambodia, primarily from funds provided by LCA congregations in Epping and Newcastle NSW and Woden ACT.
Just 12 months earlier we stood under a tree on the same site, a vacant block of land funded by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bavaria and purchased by the Lutheran Church in Cambodia.
For more than 18 months Pastor Vibol, pastor at the City Church and Rainbow Hostel in Phnom Penh, along with students from Rainbow Hostel, had been visiting the villages of Tang Krang and Bek Piang in Kampong Cham Province, sharing the good news of Jesus.
The group of people – children and adults who were being baptised, and those interested in learning more about Jesus – was continuing to grow. The leaders of the Lutheran Church in Cambodia identified a significant opportunity for spreading the gospel and decided that this new ministry in Kampong Cham would be the next major mission initiative for their church.
Pastor Vibol was invited to consider moving to reside permanently in Kampong Cham as pastor in this brand new mission field. Once future ministry decisions had been confirmed and Pastor Vibol had accepted the challenge to move, the only thing delaying mission expansion plans was a lack of funds.
In July 2015 Pastor Mark Schultz from Epping, and Ward Westphal, chairperson of Woden, made a commitment to speak to their home congregations about raising money to support the church planting.
The stories of what they witnessed in Cambodia in 2015 had a powerful effect, resulting in enough funds to begin building the worship centre and manse.
One year later here we were, celebrating the dedication of these facilities. What a day of joy! People from different cultures, from God’s family, but with one heart and purpose, joined in worship.
The mission team from Epping and Woden were exhausted but joyful, having worked the week prior to the dedication to erect a fence around the property, which also included a fish pond for income generation.
Pastor Mark preached at the dedication service, and was joined by Bishop Terry Kee from Singapore and Pastor Rob Bartholomaeus from Woden in the dedication of the new buildings.
The students from Rainbow Hostel have worked with Pastor Vibol in this emerging mission field, travelling two hours each way each week to Kampong Cham. The dedication day saw the culmination of much of their hard work and the answer to their prayers.
All new believers, these students were also joined by members from the original congregation of the Lutheran Church Cambodia at Phum Krus in the province of Kampong Chnnang. Their overwhelming joy at the sight of new believers and further evidence of the growing Lutheran Church in Cambodia, was palpable.
And there’s more … after the dedication service there was a second service, where a further six students from Rainbow Hostel were baptised!
We experienced church planting in its rawest form and the sheer joy of our Cambodian sisters and brothers over what God is doing in their country. They simply can’t hold back telling other people about Jesus!
This story was also published in the November 2016 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.
If you, your school or your congregation, would like to know how you can connect to the mission of God through a LCA International Mission partnership, you are invited to phone Erin on (08) 8267 7300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/start-a-partnership/
Read more stories about congregational partnerships at www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/local-partners/congregations/