Sue and I have just completed a fabulous time visiting with our Cambodian mission partners – Rose and Perlito, and Byron (Poipet), and Stu and Jo (Battambang). It has been an incredibly rich, inspiring and full week. Over six days I spoke 12 times, which even for a loud mouth like me is a stretch. I preached at Poipet last Sunday, and then taught on the character and nature of God to 27 Discipleship Training Students (DTS) at YWAM Battambang. Let me share with you a couple of reflections.
First, what our partners are doing here in Cambodia is nothing short of incredible. We enjoyed a wonderful few days with Byron, who over the last year has become an invaluable member of the Poipet Christian community – particularly with his construction skills and servant heart. We love this guy.
The slum community near the church in Poipet can no longer be called a slum community. Praise God! This is the community where, for the last eight years, we have been sponsoring kids into an excellent education they would otherwise not receive. Perlito and Rose, and their church, have invested their lives into this community. It has been transformed – one where abject, life-threatening poverty will soon be non-existent. In addition, many of the children sponsored are now young adults and are key leaders in the church. Some of them had significant roles in leading worship last Sunday. A few are going on to university – unthinkable even a few years ago.
What has happened in Battambang the last 12 years is truly amazing. 12 years ago, Stu Herchell-Adair was a part of a small team that travelled to Battambang (Cambodia’s second largest city) with the vision to establish a YWAM Training Base there. Now that base has 120 staff, multiple training schools a year, more than a dozen community development initiatives and its own incredible, beautiful property (the second largest in Battambang) which itself is a miracle of God’s provision. It’s not been easy. 12 years ago Cambodia was not an easy place to live. In many ways it still isn’t. In the midst of it all God has been doing some amazing things. One observation of the serious intent to see Cambodia transformed by the gospel is that 75% or so of the staff are Cambodian, and the base itself is now led by Cambodian leaders, sending missionaries not only all over Cambodia, but to the nations.
Stu met Jo in Battambang. They now have two beautiful boys – Aza and Malachi. Their heart for Cambodia is infectious. Spending the week with them, we got to see a little of their ministry, especially amongst the desperately impoverished, and meet some of their friends. Our two visits to a village of thirty families who live on and in the city dump (playing with kids amongst the rotting, smoking mountains of trash) will be memories we will never forget.
What an honour it is to partner with, not just Stu and Jo, but Rose and Perlito, Byron, as well as Siami and Sawitree (Thailand), Dina (Bosnia) and Justice Water. This is all part of our Acts 1:8 mission – to see more people, more like Jesus – on the Gold Coast, across our nation and the nations of the world.