Building the next generation

By Glenice Hartwich

Cambodia; a country busy with life, learning and doing; a country getting on and looking forward, encouraging tourism; a country openly presenting its history, good and bad; a country proudly posting road signs stating ‘no child labour used in Cambodia’; a country allowing peaceful protests speaking out against the government; a country holding democratic elections; […]

Cambodia; a country busy with life, learning and doing; a country getting on and looking forward, encouraging tourism; a country openly presenting its history, good and bad; a country proudly posting road signs stating ‘no child labour used in Cambodia’; a country allowing peaceful protests speaking out against the government; a country holding democratic elections; a country looking after its people; and a country unopposed to Christianity.

The City Church is a Christian oasis within the lively metropolis of Phnom Penh, the country’s capital. The unassuming building sits amid rare vacant blocks, surrounded by ever expanding developments and everyday Cambodian homes, families and shops – it is also home to the newest Lutheran church.

The Lutheran Church of Cambodia (LCC) City Church was officially approved by the Cambodian Ministry of Religious Affairs in September 2013 and within its walls is the Rainbow Hostel, which offers a glimpse of an extraordinary vision – a future Christian Cambodia.

The Rainbow Hostel is home to tertiary students from low income families, coming from twelve different provinces in Cambodia, students who would otherwise not be able to afford a university education, but who embody the vigour, vibe and dedication of the youth of Cambodia nevertheless.

This generation of teens and twenty-somethings at the Rainbow Hostel, have not known the terror of the Khmer Rouge in the 70s that their parents knew. But they know the stories; they’ve heard them first hand. They also know that their own existence is due to the preservation of the lives of these people. Many of the students have come to know Jesus through the ministry carried out in the Rainbow Hostel City Church and the village of Phum Krus, and they credit their parents’ survival through the Pol Pot years, to the hand of God.

As a result of the dreadful killings in the 1970s, two-thirds of the population of Cambodia today, are under the age of 25. These are people with ambition, to rebuild their country and their lives, to feed, heal and educate their people; these are the future doctors, teachers, agriculturalists and business leaders. In this capacity as an influential generation, tertiary education is of paramount importance, as a stepping stone and as a reclaimed right. These future leaders are rebuilding Cambodia as Christian leaders too, in a predominantly Buddhist society where Jesus is slowly, but surely becoming known, and proclaimed.

Many of the Rainbow Hostel students have a diaconal attitude towards their communities and families, which has spurred these young people into action, such as establishing the youth group, Youth Association Cambodia, teaching bible study groups, English classes and Sunday school for local children. This all occurs within the walls of the LCC City Church and Rainbow Hostel and even on the walls where the girls’ dorm is decorated, not with posters or graffiti, but with scripture and verse, written in whiteboard markers.

The driving force behind the establishment of the LCC has been the Lutheran Church in Singapore, together with the support of the Lutheran Church of Australia and other overseas partner churches working in Cambodia through the established non-government organisation, Lutheran World Mission (LWM).

Currently the LCC has two congregations, the City Church and the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and Life Centre, based in Phum Krus, Kampong Chhnang. Together, the LCC and LWM have the opportunity to expand this dynamic ministry through the rare opportunity to purchase of two empty blocks of land adjoining the Rainbow Hostel and City Church building, in Phnom Penh.

As Sally Lim, LWM Coordinator, puts it ‘the opportunity and affordability to buy land next to an existing ministry for future expansion [in the rapidly growing city of Phnom Penh] would be irrecoverable if it slips by’.

The plan is to provide quality pre-school education to local and expatriate children, provide part and full-time teaching jobs and experience to the university students of the Rainbow Hostel, countless opportunities for outreach, education for needy families, tuition, youth and bible studies, a Bible Institute for the LCC and self-reliance for the both the LCC and the Rainbow Hostel ministry.

Sally goes on to say that Christian schools already have a good reputation in Phnom Penh and securing this land could be the promise of providing quality education and outreach to Cambodian children and their families. It will also provide important teaching and evangelistic experiences for the tertiary students at the Rainbow Hostel – an opportunity for the first generation of Christians to pass on the teachings of Jesus to a new generation – the second generation of Cambodian Christians.

‘It is a big project but will bring forth multiple benefits – outreach to families, community services, empowerment of the locals and self-reliance of the church’, said Sally.

You can join in this exciting, God-given opportunity to reach out to the people of Cambodia with the message of Jesus Christ. You can make a difference as you support the purchase of this land which will enable the Lutheran Church in Cambodia and its mission and ministry partners to build foundations for the expansion of this dynamic mission in Cambodia. Please keep this ministry in your prayers.


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/

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