Here it is, the final post from my Cambodia series. It’s been a joy to share this journey with you. If you’re curious about how my expectations compared to the reality of my short-term trip, click here. If you want to read about a Cambodian Christian’s incredible journey to faith, head over here.
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Takeaways from My Cambodia Journey
After seeing, hearing and experiencing God’s work in Cambodia in an up-close-and-personal way, I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to share what I observed.
At the conclusion of more than 35 interviews with both missionaries and local Christian workers in Cambodia, some major themes emerged.
Here are three significant takeaways from my conversations in Cambodia.
1) The Importance of Preserving and Celebrating Local Culture
Honoring local culture while sharing the gospel is a worthy goal. It’s just not a simple or easy one. When cross-cultural workers make this their aim, however, God works in amazing ways.
One particular example stands out to me. I visited the site of a radio ministry in northeastern Cambodia. Its weekly gospel program aims to reach animist tribal groups with the message of Christ. Even though the program was set up by a missionary (who, coincidentally, was born in Cambodia), local Christians now plan and produce the show.
Each of the program’s four segments reach a different people group. As such, someone from each ethnic group creates and produces the content in their own language. Taking things a step further, the content for each segment is completely distinct. The teaching, music and even dramas are tailored to the culture and learning style of that particular ethnic group.
The result? Villagers who have never stepped foot in a church are coming to faith in Christ.
2) Cambodians Are Uniquely Equipped to Bless Their Own Country
When you land in a country like Cambodia, it’s tempting to assume the people around you need a lot of help. Since the Pol Pot era and its accompanying genocide, Cambodia has viewed itself as a nation in recovery. The heavy presence of foreign aid organizations reinforces that self-image.
It’s true that Cambodia can receive immense benefits from cross-cultural workers. The Cambodian church is young and in need of discipleship. Additionally, the country is under-resourced to respond to the enormous needs left in the wake of the Khmer Rouge.
But Cambodians are uniquely positioned and gifted by God to bring hope and healing to their own country. Cross-cultural workers “help” the most when they empower Cambodians to recognize that.
The Christian workers I spoke with expressed a desire to see Cambodians develop their gifts and take on leadership in the church.
Several Cambodians I interviewed shared their initial reluctance when approached with new responsibilities. They lacked confidence. They assumed they weren’t qualified. But someone challenged them to step up. Once they did, they discovered their strengths and often became teachers themselves.
God is using Cambodians to bless Cambodia. And it’s a beautiful thing.
3) Nothing Is Impossible For God
It’s easy to toss around that phrase without taking it to heart. Listening to the stories of Cambodian Christians, however, puts flesh on the bones of that theoretical statement.
Take Nee’s story, for instance. I’ll return to her words, again and again, to remind myself of God’s power and the depths of his love. (Read Nee’s story here.)
The details of her testimony may sound remarkable, but Nee’s story isn’t all that rare among Cambodian Christians. Many Cambodians, like Nee, grew up in broken or abusive homes. As children and adolescents, they watched their fathers live as slaves to their addictions. Drugs, alcohol and gambling held a tight grip on their communities.
These stories of hardship and brokenness, in addition to rousing my admiration of people like Nee, moved me to worship God for his mercy, grace and love. As Nee herself told me, God can restore even the most hopeless cases.
You Can Be Part of Cambodia’s Story
As I spent time with both local Christians and long-term workers, I stood in awe of the story of God’s work in Cambodia. It’s a powerful tale of hope and redemption.
Cambodia’s story continues to unfold, and God is using people with a variety of skills, passions and cultural backgrounds to write the next chapter.
Could God be asking you to be part of Cambodia’s story? What skills has he given you? Maybe your passions and Cambodia’s needs intersect. There’s only one way to find out. Explore available opportunities or reach out to an OMF representative, and ask God to lead you.
Editor’s Note August 9, 2021: At the time of this article Megan worked on the US Communication Team. Today, she now lives and works in Cambodia.
Megan has been working in communications for almost 10 years. Currently serving as Content Manager for OMF (U.S.) she enjoys writing, editing and over-thinking everything word-related. When not in the office, Megan spends her spare time cycling, thrift shopping, exploring her city and drinking coffee with (or without) friends.