Encouraging God’s servants in Cambodia
Cambodia is a member of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and a growing nation in Indochina. Khmer is its main language and Buddhism its religion. Its population is 14.8 million, comprised largely of the Khmer, as well as Vietnamese and Chinese minorities. Its capital city is Phnom Penh.
Cambodia is infamous for the Marxist Khmer Rouge regime, led by ruthless dictator Pol Pot, that took power in 1975, changing the country’s name to Democratic Kampuchea. The Khmer Rouge evacuated cities and sent populations on forced marches to rural work projects. Systematic genocide was practised and the bones of executed children and adults can be found at the Killing Fields.
Estimates vary as to how many were slaughtered by the regime – perhaps 1.8 million – while many were tortured and survived. The history is recounted at the Toul Sleng museum, which we visited.
The brutality of the late 1970s led to the decline of the cultural, economic and political life of Cambodia. It is only in recent years that reconstruction efforts began and political stability only returned to Cambodia in the late 1990s.
God had his sovereign time for gospel advance in this needy land. In 1997 he sent two of his servants, David Koo and Moses Hanh, to begin outreach in this spiritually impoverished nation. In response to their invitation, Jack and Angie Sin and Teck Beng went this February on a teaching trip to Life University at Sihanoukville.
By God’s grace, we arrived safely after a 2-hour flight and a 4-hour journey from Phnom Penh. We had a blessed time among the students of Life University, which is a mission station of Life Bible-Presbyterian Church, Singapore.
Rev. David Koo is the key man on the ground, providing spiritual leadership as the university’s president. The seminary sprawls over 8 hectares of hilly land, and was purchased in 2000 at an amazing price of $1 per square metre.
There are now 50 teaching and support staff in the primary, secondary and high schools, while the accredited university offers degrees in nursing, education, business management, science and theology. The total enrolment is 1100 students.
Angie conducted lectures on accounting and business-English to 20 students and shared the Word of God at two daily chapels to 300 primary school students. Teck Beng taught six hours of information technology.
Jack Sin taught nine hours of Reformed Biblical Theology to 60 students and preached from Malachi 3:16 and Hebrews 6:9-12 at two morning chapels for the university students.
Since the civil war in 1997, Cambodia has adopted religious freedom and an ‘open door’ policy towards foreign aid. Praise God for freedom to share the gospel freely and for hearts receptive to the truth.
There is a great need to establish churches and Bible schools to train local preachers and missionaries, and to penetrate the provincial districts and villages in rural areas. The students come from villages all over Cambodia’s 19 provinces. It is a ripe and large harvest field for gospel outreaches and missions.
We also visited Rev. Moses Hanh, whose Bible school is located 20 minutes away in Kampong Som, to encourage him, his church and his ministry to 60 students. Rev. Hanh is reaching out to Laotians and Chinese and has an outreach near the border of Laos in Stung Treng province.
Do pray for him in his faithful teaching and gospel missions all over the provinces and villages of Cambodia, through these graduates. It was also good to see Phanna and Phannith serving the Lord in one of the village churches in Pailin.
There is still much to be done in this needy land in training local pastors and evangelists to return to their villages and share the gospel with the Khmer people. There is also a need to translate sound Reformed resources into Khmer. We had good fellowship with Mrs Grace Hanh, who has a book and gift shop ministry in Phnom Penh.
Here we met Sambath, who was released from prison last year and has a growing prison ministry in Phnom Penh. He is a transformed man by the power of the gospel and is an effective comrade to the Hanhs.
We thank God for a blessed and eventful time of ministry, and for good health and strength. We are living in days of great spiritual transformation, where the Word of everlasting life has penetrated many nations and ethnic and language groups, as predicted by our Lord in Matthew 24:14: ‘And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come’.
Jack and Angelina Sin