A couple weeks ago, we were privileged to be part of a fourteen-member team from Redeemer that traveled to Cambodia. Through Tim and Jodi Tatum, Redeemer has a long-standing relationship with Jumpah, a not-for-profit organization that seeks to transform the lives of rural Cambodians through the love of Christ, education, and practical training and assistance. We went to Cambodia to serve with and among the Jumpah teachers and staff and to explore whether Redeemer could partner with believers there to plant a church in Sobahn Village, the home of Jumpah.
Though we return encouraged, Cambodia is a very discouraging place; the government is corrupt, the Khmer remain an unreached people group among whom Buddhism, animism, and fear dominate, and we heard disappointing story after disappointing story from our hosts. Through human eyes, it can all look very hopeless.
Yet, when we reflect on our time in Cambodia, a theme that stands out in stark contrast to this hopelessness is the real power of God. In Eph 1:19-21, Paul prays that the Ephesians would know “what is the immeasurable greatness of (God’s) power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”
This passage and the power of God became a personal theme for the week.
Our team primarily did three things while we were in Cambodia – ran a kids’ camp for 100+ local village children, taught and discipled the Jumpah teachers and staff (more than half of whom don’t claim faith in Christ), and met with the ten believers there who desperately want a church. God answered prayer in all of these endeavors.
One of the highlights of our time there was gathering with these believers who are so hungry for their own local church. We heard their desires for leadership, for discipleship, and for added numbers, and we encouraged them in the ways they are already functioning as a New Testament church. At the end of the meeting we gathered around them and prayed for them.
As we prayed for that small group of believers, we were outdoors and it was a Buddhist holiday. We could hear the amplified chants and calls from the Buddhist temple in the neighboring village. The metaphor was striking – this is the constant noise that rings in these believers’ ears as they fight to believe and live out the gospel. It is quickly evident that they (like us) have a very real battle against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
But in the midst of this seeming hopelessness, God is working with power! God has delivered these ten believers from the domain of darkness and transferred them to the kingdom of His Son. They are meeting weekly to study God’s word together. Their unsaved coworkers are hearing and considering the claims of Christ. Jesus IS seated in the heavenly places high above every rule, authority, power, and dominion, and His name alone has the power to push back the darkness of false religion and bring in life and light.
Please continue to pray with us for this budding little church, for the teachers and staff at Jumpah who don’t yet know Christ, for the precious villagers of Sobahn, and for the Cambodian people in general. May God push back the darkness, build His church and bring the light of life to that place!
Grateful for your partnership in the gospel,
Rick and Jill Poel
Stay tuned for more Cambodia debriefs, in church and on the blog.