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Rice Planting and Discipleship

Each year in Cambodia, as the floodwaters start receding, rice farmers get into action, mobilising entire families to plant the seedlings.

A Christian Khmer family that I knew decided to rent a plot of land to try and grow rice, hoping to harvest enough to feed the family for a year. So for the first time, after about 12 years of living in Cambodia, with a classroom knowledge of the cycle of rice growing, strains of rice, names of rice and so on, I went along to ‘help’ them plant rice.

Theory met reality and a song from childhood became my refrain out in the rice field after just a few minutes:

“Planting rice is never fun, bent from morn till set of sun.

Cannot stand, cannot sit, cannot rest a little bit.

Planting rice is no fun …”

I did not make it to mid-day, let alone sunset. As for the ‘never fun’ bit – considering that my thighs and back ached so badly the next day – I wonder why ‘fun’ was even used as an adjective in the song!

What is Discipleship Like?

Yet, working side by side with this family, I gained more than aches and complaints; the fellowship was sweet and memorable. Crouching there, between random conversations about this or that, I also got to thinking that building up a Christian in their faith is rather like rice-planting.

There was no short-cut, and no way of staying clean! In the field, my feet got sucked into mud that also made its way to my toenails; my hands were plunged beneath muddy water groping for soft patches to smack in the rice seedling, while I kept squealing under my breath, “That squishy bit is not a leech, not a leech, right?!” And after an hour, it seemed I had only covered a square foot or so with rice seedlings!

If I want to reach people with the gospel, I also have to get my feet and hands dirty, and be prepared to work hard, for a long time. Wading right into their lives, even though I was sometimes unwelcome as a leech, was necessary in order to bring about a harvest of faith.

At different times pleading, encouraging, praying with face to the ground, nudging their faith forward, laughing and crying with them required my heart, mind, spirit and strength to stay engaged with them. I could not be an objective bystander, much as I would like to, just to protect myself from the mess. Where it was messy and deep, there hope and change could be planted.

Does this kind of ‘field work’ interest you? Could you step into a rural ‘field’ in Cambodia and plant seedlings of faith or join in gathering the harvest? If yes, then be prepared for mess, but also to find the Lord’s faithfulness in bringing about a harvest in his time.

Rebecca, OMF worker in Cambodia

Will you pray for Cambodia?

  • Pray for church leaders and OMF workers as they wade into Christians’ lives and work to help build them up in the faith.
  • Pray for strength for Christian workers to persevere in planting and watering seeds of the gospel.
  • Pray for new workers willing to serve in Cambodia’s rural areas.

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