Written by Travis Pyykkonen
Gathered together in the Poel’s living room, we had just finished planning all the activities for the Cambodia kids camp and I was filled with excitement. I was starting to imagine the joy of creating real relationships with these kids through fun songs, games, and storytelling. Confident in the good news of Jesus, I anticipated the effectiveness of the gospel messages that we’d be privileged to share each day. By God’s grace, some would hear, believe, and trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
But then what?
I imagined what it would be like for these new young believers after our group left, and my heart sank. What was going to happen to the seed of hope that was planted in these little hearts? Who would guide, disciple, and encourage? Who would affirm and strengthen these young Christians when the enemy of doubt would overwhelm? Where would they turn for help reading the Bible, interpreting Scripture, and holding fast to the faith in a 97% Buddhist country?
Over the past year or so, two of my daughters have been rescued by Jesus. One significant part of their journey has been our local church surrounding them with love and care. Our daughters have had many Sunday mornings, Wednesday evenings, and overnight retreats where others in our church have cared for their souls. When my daughters began responding to the gospel, pastors, youth leaders, Katie, and myself were prepared and available to walk alongside them. When my daughters were confident and eager to declare Jesus King and Savior, they were invited to learn deep truths from our pastors during preparation for baptism. Then, when our daughters were officially baptized, they were surrounded by our church community to receive biblical prayer and encouragement. As our girls navigate life, with its inevitable trials, temptations, sorrows, fears, and doubts, our kids have a community holding them up in prayer and offering countless means of very tangible grace. In the months to come, I have complete confidence that my daughters will be loved, taught, and discipled through our church. It is apparent: my daughters are blessed by our local church. The seeds of faith and salvation planted by the Holy Spirit are being masterfully tended by God via our local church body.
BACK TO CAMBODIA. The contrast between what my daughters experience and what Cambodia kids around Jumpah would experience was the cause of my sadness after our planning session. The reality for these kids is that the closest church is an hour away, and they likely have no means to get there. There isn’t a body of believers to walk alongside these kids to protect and nurture their souls. They will be more or less on their own with God.
But it isn’t hopeless. These people in Cambodia are loved by our Lord, and we as individuals at RCC — and together as a church — are growing in our love for them. We know what benefits exist for souls when they are in fellowship with a local body of believers. We have tasted it and we have a unique opportunity to pass along a vision for the local church to the people in and around Jumpah. Not just in September, but in the years to come, let’s jump into this opportunity and pour ourselves out so that God’s loving faithfulness can work in and through a local Cambodian church for this group of believers and not-yet-believers.
In less than two weeks, a small group of 15 is heading to Cambodia. As we brainstorm, fund-raise, prepare, and pray, our excitement grows. But we get so much more excited about our trip with the awareness that our whole local church body is on mission with us. I want those Cambodian kids who accept Jesus when we are there to have a group of believers surrounding them with love and care in the months and years ahead. So, let’s go further and deeper and see what God has for all of us.