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Going Where People Are: Lecturing in Urban Design in Cambodia

A generous estimate is that 2 per cent of Cambodians are Christian. That means 98 per cent of them will not be going to church but the majority will be working or be in education. So how can we share the good news of Jesus Christ with that 98 per cent?

One way is by intentionally going to where they are; Cambodian workplaces or education institutions. We can seek to understand their context and earn the right to witness to them. Before we can share the gospel we have to show we are worth listening to. We have to earn the right to share.

By earning ‘a voice’ I mean working with transparency, integrity and a commitment to excellence (an expression of daily worship); a counter-cultural practice and effective witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. And at the same time taking every opportunity to verbally give a reason for hope in this life.

This was my strategy when I started work lecturing Urban Design at the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) in Phnom Penh in 2009. From eight years of lecturing three main outcomes:

  1. I had the privilege of teaching over 500 students and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with them through my work practice and verbally at least once. (Either personally or through one of three outreach events: course orientation, Christmas or graduation). The photo at the top of this post shows the class of 2016, showing the numbers of students I was able to share with in just one year.
  2. Cambodian Urban Design was substantially developed through good practice and innovative design in collaboration with local staff and students. Today better urban places and spaces will be created by the next generation of Cambodian urban designers that will improve living standards for many people in Cambodia.
  3. The course I developed is sustainable. It can continue even though I’m no longer in Cambodia. To enable this, I had to understand the context of Cambodian education and always work in partnership with local staff and students. The result of this was a continuing education impact.

I have now completed lecturing at RUFA for the time being. But the course I wrote, taught and refined over eight years continues. It now ‘belongs’ to a Cambodia colleague who teaches the course and is developing it in his own way (and making it even better!). Now that I am based in the UK I have many urban design contacts and colleagues from Cambodia, who connect with me from time to time (I recently met one alumni for coffee in London). And my relationship with RUFA is one of favour, allowing for exciting professional collaborations in the future.

Because I lectured in Cambodia I now have opportunities around the world to share Jesus Christ through my professional practice as well as my words: there is no sacred secular divide (or hierarchy) when all we do is done for the glory of God.

Paul Robinson

Will you pray for Cambodia?

  • Give thanks for opportunities for people like Paul to go and use their professional skills to meet Cambodians where they are. Pray for spiritual fruit from Paul’s witness.
  • Pray for more Christians to consider taking their professions to Cambodia to serve and point to Jesus.
  • Pray for sustainable input from Christian professionals like Paul.

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