The Light in the Darkness of Cambodia

A group of 40 people from Xenos are back from a short-term missions trip to Cambodia. Shane Coulter was on the trip and shares his experience:

[[{"fid":"3070","view_mode":"media_original","fields":{"format":"media_original","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"media_original","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"attributes":{"style":"width: 40%; float: right; padding: 5px","class":"media-element file-media-original","data-delta":"1"}}]]In his book, Cambodia's Curse, Joel Brinkley aptly sums up the experience of visiting Cambodia: "Be careful because Cambodia is the most dangerous place you will ever visit. You will fall in love with it, and eventually it will break your heart." The countryside is gorgeous, and yet ravaged by poverty. The culture is rich in tradition, and yet sex trafficking and domestic violence are viewed as commonplace. The Khmer people built marvels like Angkor Wat, and yet they were also victims and perpetrators of one of the most tragic genocides in history.

Our short term team became enmeshed in this culture of contradictions during our 15 day trip to Cambodia. We began by visiting the beautiful temples in Siem Reap, and spending a few days enjoying the wonderful sights and the delicious food. However, after visiting the killing fields where Pol Pot murdered millions, many of us were left asking, "Where was God during these people's suffering?" The next day we began our work week and we all found the answer to that question. God never abandoned the people of Cambodia![[{"fid":"3071","view_mode":"media_original","fields":{"format":"media_original","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"2":{"format":"media_original","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"attributes":{"style":"width: 40%; float: left; padding: 5px","class":"media-element file-media-original","data-delta":"2"}}]]

We spent a week serving Fountain of Hope (FOH) in Phnom Penh and the Geslers’ and Barsons’ (two Xenos families) Friendship School in Kampong Cham. Some members of our team ran VBS programs, others collected stories from the believers, some took photos to be used in promoting the organizations. A construction team spent the week laboring to build a drainage system for the church where we met, which previously flooded with sewage water every time there was a strong rain. The rest of our team spent the week giving teachings from 2 Corinthians to members of Fountain of Hope. Some of the team focused on teaching foundational truths to 120 newer believers who FOH has reached in the past few years. Others worked with staff members of FOH, discussing principals of leadership and discipleship.

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We ended the work week by having a party with all the members of FOH, featuring traditional Khmer dancing, and feasting on a whole cow that they spent the entire day cooking right in front of us! After the week we visited Mercy Medical Center, the Benadums’ initiative which provides free medical aid and shares the gospel with hundreds each year.

Everywhere we turned we saw Khmer believers spending themselves to serve and to reach the lost people around them. Our team was deeply impacted by the faith and joy we had the privilege to witness in our new friends. Cambodia is a spiritually dark place, where many live and die without hope or joy. However, this is exactly why Fountain of Hope, the Friendship School and Mercy Medical Center are so effective! People without hope are drawn to the passion and joy of the believers in each of these programs and hundreds come to Christ each year because of it.[[{"fid":"3073","view_mode":"media_original","fields":{"format":"media_original","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"4":{"format":"media_original","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"attributes":{"style":"width: 40%; float: left; padding: 5px","class":"media-element file-media-original","data-delta":"4"}}]]

Holly McCallum said the highlight of the trip for her was having communion with FOH staff and brothers and sisters from the cell churches. There were former Khmer Rouge soldiers side by side with Khmer Rouge victims. “I was so touched by the unity of the Spirit we experienced celebrating the Cross of Christ. What a magnificent picture of the power of God's grace!"

Speaking to how the trip affected her, Brenna Cropper said, "It has made me more and more excited to participate in serving the country of Cambodia through an increase in financial giving and through praying for the good work that God is doing there."

Our whole team left with the same burden. While we can't be there in person to support God's work, we are confident that He hears our prayers for them and that our financial support is going to diligent and effective workers who God has called to Cambodia.

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Cambodia is a dark place, physically and spiritually. Thank God that He has placed people there who live out Jesus' commission in Matthew 5:16, "In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Thank God that our team was able to witness God's word shining out in Cambodia and reaching people to a new life of hope and joy!

Please take some time to read more on the work that Fountain of Hope, Friendship School and Mercy Medical Center are doing and consider donating to support their work

Our whole team would like to thank everyone who supported us, financially and in prayer!