‘It’s like stepping into Acts! It’s just like you’d imagine the first-century church to be.’ The LCA Board for Mission’s project officer, Glenice Hartwich, just back from a visit to Cambodia, has been amazed and inspired by the growth of the two-year-old Lutheran World Mission (LWM) there. ‘The people of Cambodia have suffered more than […]
‘It’s like stepping into Acts! It’s just like you’d imagine the first-century church to be.’
The LCA Board for Mission’s project officer, Glenice Hartwich, just back from a visit to Cambodia, has been amazed and inspired by the growth of the two-year-old Lutheran World Mission (LWM) there.
‘The people of Cambodia have suffered more than most, and they are hungry for good news. They are much more open to the gospel than most people here in the West’, Glenice says.
‘The LWM staff are mostly new Christians themselves, but they cannot help telling the stories of Jesus—and people are responding. It’s exciting!’
A mission outreach activity of the Lutheran Church of Singapore, a partner of the LCA, the LWM opened the Life Centre in Kampong Chhnang Province, about two hours north-west of Phnom Penh, in January 2010. The centre provides a daily sit-down meal for children from the poorest families, and delivers meals door-to-door to the elderly, frail and disabled.
Providing meals for disadvantaged people is not meant to be a long-term project, though. Staff and volunteers are working with village heads and community members to increase their capacity to generate their own sustainable food supplies. Glenice visited villagers who have been taught how to breed fish and chickens and to increase the production of their vegetable patches.
‘It’s wonderful to see how these people make the best of the few resources they have, and the difference a little bit of agricultural know-how makes.’
The village’s children are eager to learn too. After school, dozens of them gather at the centre, where pastors Daniel Orn and Mose Lat teach English and computer skills. These are two of the most sought-after skills in Cambodia.
‘You can’t help feeling that this is how the early church would have looked and felt’, Glenice says. ‘The mission in Cambodia is based right at the heart of the community, so it’s impossible to miss it, and the staff reach out in a very natural, unrehearsed way. They don’t spend hours in training how to “do mission”; they simply care for people, pray for people and tell people about Jesus as each opportunity arises.
‘They make it look so easy.’
The Life Centre is also the home of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. It started with only the staff as members in January 2010; now there are 79 baptised adults. Average attendance at Sunday worship is 45. It’s a vibrant worshipping community. The beautiful singing can be heard all around the village, an inspiring testimony of the love of God in the lives of the brand-new Christians.
The LWM also operates a hostel for university students in Phnom Penh. It caters exclusively for young people from the poor provinces, who would not otherwise be able to stay in the city to study. The fees are heavily subsidised by the Lutheran Church Singapore, allowing students to pay only USD20 a year for rent and USD5 a month for utilities.
Only a few months after opening in February 2010, the hostel was at full capacity. It now accommodates 32 young men and 20 young women, who are cared for by Pastor Vibol Khit and his wife Sokry. There is no pressure on students to become Christian, but all are invited to participate in Tuesday and Thursday night devotions and Sunday morning worship. On 1 January this year twelve students were baptised.
The LCA’s Board for Mission is supporting this outreach work in Cambodia, through its partner in mission the Lutheran Church of Singapore.
Many of our partner churches are working in new territory for the kingdom of God; therefore, spiritual attack is their everyday reality. As a member of a congregation, school, or family, or a couple or individual, you are invited to commit to praying for our partners in mission. For regular prayer point updates, go to www.lca.org.au/international-mission/act-now/pray
Read more stories about our partner church in Cambodia at www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/international-partners/cambodia/