It all began as a simple request to Sis Jenny Sutanto, one of our CVSOM Alumni. This sister has been involved in missions and I thought it’d be a good idea for her to initiate a ministry trip for the alumni. So at the Silent Retreat last May, I issued her the challenge. Almost immediately after that, the Lord began to work.
Sis Jenny and Sis Lydia went for a trip to Cambodia (Siem Riep and Phnom Penh) organised by Pastor Richard Toh, Executive Director of International Christian Mission (ICM). Upon their return, they excitedly shared it with me and we started to make plans for the very first CVSOM Alumni Ministry Trip 22-26 April 2013. We shared details at the Alumni Gathering in Dec 2012 and response was encouraging. For those who were not able to make the trip, they signed up to pray whilst others contributed finances to enable 50 village pastors to attend the training sessions over three days.
Time went by and soon it was time for the team to make the trip. Co-ordinated by Ps Richard Toh, the CVSOM Alumni Ministry Team comprised Sis Jenny Sutanto, Sis Lydia Wong, Sis Linda Yong, Sis Michelle Lim, Sis Cecilia Kong and myself. Arriving via JetStar, we spent the first afternoon in Kampong Speu visiting the church and school, a joint-project between ICM and Glad Tidings Church Singapore. This was a very warm afternoon, later cooled by a heavy passing shower. That night, we took a drive around the city just to have a feel of Phnom Penh.
Training began the next day on Tuesday 23 April. A quick breakfast and then we set off to Fellowship Word of Life Church. This church was founded by Ps Sinai Phouek, a man with a big heart for the children of Cambodia. When we arrived, the pastors were all there, ready and eager to receive teaching. Ps Richard gave a short welcome and introduction and the floor was handed to me to teach the first session on “The Word of God”. The interpreter assigned was Ps Vanna Srun. Rescued off the streets by Ps Sinai as an orphan, this young man is today married with four children and doing great work for the Lord Jesus in the lives of children and youths. Our partnership hit off immediately as he interpreted dynamically and effortlessly, helping me communicate each point so well in the Khmer language!
On Wednesday 24 April, the moment we entered the room, we knew the atmosphere was different. When the worship began, I couldn’t hold back my tears. There was such a strong presence of the Lord in the room, and this was readily confirmed by the other members of the team. Sis Michelle taught on “The Cross” and made an altar call. The pastors responded and we prayed for all of them. After that, I built on that teaching and shared on “The Blood of Christ”. I felt that the Lord wanted to minister to the pastors’ needs and struggles and invited them to cast every care upon Jesus, knowing that everything is now under the blood. Once again, they responded and what followed was a tremendous time of soaking in the love and grace of the Lord!
Across the three days, it really warmed my heart to see the CVSOM Alumni Ministry Team in action. Each gave their best and preached their hearts out for Jesus. Each was different and yet through that diversity there was such a unity in the Spirit. There was only one desire – and that was to sow and pour into the lives of the pastors. These pastors have travelled from different provinces and villages just to learn and receive. They were all so hungry and eager, with bibles opened, taking down every point! At the same time, we could sense the challenges each faced back in their congregations and situations. And yet, the love of Jesus keeps them going and serving. We were all so blessed to learn from them, even as they came to learn from us.
Sis Lydia and Sis Linda took two side sessions to minister to the youths and children. And on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, Sis Michelle and I took turns to share at the youth rally. The message was direct and simple – that these will know and experience the love of Father God. It was a meaningful time of speaking into these young lives that would one day grow up to take Cambodia for Jesus!
The response and feedback across the three days was very encouraging. The pastors found the teaching and sharing very refreshing and useful. Many came forward to request the Powerpoint presentations so that they can review and in turn use it to teach their own congregations. We have been invited to go back to continue with other topics. This is something we will prayerfully consider and God-willing, we may be able to involve other CVSOM Alumni members for the next trips.
We thank and praise God for watching over us in Phnom Penh. The weather was hot and it affected us physically. Yet, the Lord’s hand sustained us, enabling us to do what needed to be done to the glory of His name! We went in our weakness and experienced the strength of the Lord through lives yielded to Him. Our eyes were opened to see what God is doing in the land of Cambodia and we are just so thankful for the opportunity and privilege to partner Him in the work of His glorious Kingdom!