It takes several hours to drive to Kampong Cham in central Cambodia. There, in a humble, stilt-legged church built in a style suited to the terrain, thirty people gathered with great anticipation despite heat, humidity and only a few operational fans. These hungry souls were ministers of various callings: bi-vocational pastors burdened with building up the church, looking for help. Young people, some designated as church planters, excited over what they may learn. All had come for two days of vital training, offered by World Poverty Solutions, with teaching related directly to their work in locales scattered throughout the region.
The overarching topic, The Kingdom of God, might seem impractical in this context. After all, these devoted servants are witnesses for Jesus in a Buddhist culture—an environment where families often disown members who convert to Christ. Yet as the training proceeded through its subtopics—Knowing Your Calling, The Ministry of Jesus, The Vision of the Kingdom, and Multiplication of Ministry: Disciples Making Disciples—it was clear these notetakers were receiving more than theory. Their faces expressed joy, reflecting deep encouragement. They were finding much-needed strength to continue shining God’s light into darkness.
Misunderstanding God’s Calling
Near the end of the sessions, Pastor Pau (not his real name) humbly ventured an important question: “How do we know whether or not a vision of ministry is actually from God?” The longing and desperation behind his question were visible; he literally sat on the edge of his seat. “God called my family and me to leave our village and go to another to start a ministry. God said if we didn’t go, he would punish us. So we went. But for two years we have struggled horribly.”
We turned to Scripture to review some lesson points on the issue of calling. Then we addressed the specific issues of torment and punishment, with biblical proofs to offset this misunderstanding of God’s calling. At that, the timid, reserved pastor broke into deep sobs that shook his whole body and all in the room. Such open emotion in this context, especially from a man, is extremely rare. Yet the Holy Spirit was breaking through misunderstanding to bring freedom, joy and new life.
Jesus is Building His Church in Cambodia
In training sessions over two months in four regions, the Holy Spirit freed other men and women from various bondages. Like Pastor Pau, they were grasping—or rather being grasped by—the heart and hand of Jesus. All sessions were attended by a board member of the National Church. Leaders voiced deep appreciation but also requested that the trainings continue. By God’s grace this will happen in February and March of this year. Praise God that Jesus, the head of the church, is building a spiritual house that reflects and resonates his glory to a lost and needy world!