One of our objectives while being in Cambodia was recon three areas that our team is currently working in, and make an assessment for what it would look like to expand our medical and agriculture teams into those areas. We visited rural clinics, urban hospitals, sat down with people who are on the ground, NGOs who are in the area and other teams of missionaries to help with part of this assessment.
During our reconnaissance we also met with local believers that our team is ministering to. What a joy to hear some of their testimonies of what God is doing in them and through them. While the area is predominantly Buddhist, there is a mixing of other gods and beliefs as well. Many people feel while they like the story of Jesus, to follow Him would be turing their back on their culture and their family. It is no casual decision to choose Christ.
We heard of one village up the Mekong river, near the Laos border, that was rumoured to be unreached… so we hoped in a boat and went to check it out. An hour up the river, we stopped next to a muddy steep river bank. People just stared as we walked through and tried to greet them, several didn’t understand Khmer, the national language of Cambodia. We had gotten far enough away from the cities that we found a few elderly women topless, smoking on pipes. Some of the people who we chatted with said that we would find more answers to our agriculture questions if we went a bit further.
So we once again got into the boat and went up a little tributary another 20 minutes. We found a place to stop and trekked up a steep muddy river bank, and into a family’s front yard. After some chatting, they informed us that the fields were actually so far away that people would sleep for two nights on the trail to get there. We explained that we were missionaries and were trying to get a better understanding of their area.
They told us that there are only four Christians in their area, and one happened to be their neighbor. One of the kids was sent to go and find him. While we waited the neighbours mockingly told us about the man: He refuses to drink and celebrate in our religious ceremonies. He only worships his God and will not make sacrifices when it is time to plant in the rice fields. His wife left him several months ago, and even then he did not turn his back on His God, he just keeps taking care of his kids and farming.
Once the man arrived, we spend some time encouraging him. Obviously He was very solid in his faith, but didn’t get to church often because it was so far away. Our friends shared some scriptures in Khmer with him and we heard more about his family.
Our boat driver came to find us and tell us that it was time to head back so we would be off the river before dark. But before we could finish our goodbyes, a man walked up with a cane, the muscles on one leg severely atrophied. We asked if we could pray for him. He agreed. He said he had heard of the God that we served. Laotian christians had crossed the border to tell him, as well as Cambodian believers; but he was unwilling to leave all the religious traditions that he grew up with. And so we prayed for him. That God would heal him and bring a revelation of the power and love to his heart. We finished praying, and while God did not instantly heal his leg, the man says, I think I want to follow your Jesus. So we prayed with him as he made a confession of faith.
We hated to rush, but our boat driver was getting concerned about the time. What a joy to have found this family, and been able to leave this new believer with his neighbour. Although we never found the fields we rejoice for the seeds of faith that were sowed and reaped in one afternoon on the river. We are excited to know that there is a family with Overland who will be moving out to that specific area of Cambodia in January. We look forward to hearing more reports of how God is moving in that region.