It’s been about 7 months since our world has turned upside-down. Self-imposed lockdown, social distancing, and tons of zoom meetings. Masks has always been a way of life here in Asia. Although initially a challenge to lose the few social outlets, the boys quickly adjusted and their academic progress continued on as usual. The initial reprieve from hosting visitors and teams was welcome but we miss the fellowship, partnership and encouragement (not to mention the supplies).
Weekly Tues Theology Class & Monthly Pastor Wives Bible Meetings – COVID style
It was amazing to see the creative ways to adjust to our new lockdown life. Monthly team meetings became weekly Zoom meetings with visiting pastors giving us a word of encouragement. MTW NEXT (ministry to our youth) held online youth group meetings. MTW turned canceled mission trips and conferences into virtual ones. Scout Troop meetings, training, and even campouts went online. Friends met with the boys to play online games, like Code Names. Birthdays were celebrated via Zoom cross multiple time zones. We are thankful for the love and support received, even as friends and churches themselves were suffering and struggling.
Virtual Meetings including Caleb the Senior Patrol Leader conducting a First Aid training to his Troop 73
Now life seems like it went back to normal, almost. Travels bans have lifted but now require prior-obtained visas, mandatory testing, quarantining for varying lengths of time and a $2000 deposit per person. Schools have slowly reopened, with new protocols and requirements and extracurricular activities suspended. Most places of businesses have re-opened, except gyms and KTVs. Yet things are not the same.
Cambodia’s economy has been hit hard. The tourism, manufacturing exports and construction sectors, which contributed more than 70% of the nation’s growth, has been most affected. Thus making 2020 the slowest year of growth since 1994. Factories, hotels, and many businesses have been shut down. We have yet to see the full effects on the everyday people.
There has been a mass exodus of expats over the past several years due to the governmental instability, difficulty in obtaining visas, and, given the current situation, the lack of reliable medical care. Yet God is still at work. There is still hope. We see the strength of the Khmer people persevering. We see both local and expats working to bring relief and aid.
As a team, we have been praying and discussing with our partners and with each other to see how we can be of tangible help. One of the ways we have been helping is to work with our local church(es) to start a Food Bank. We recently started this at our home church, Khmer Christian Church (KCC). The church started with our church members and the dorm students. Then slowly reached out to about 12 families in the community who Pastor Thet and his wife, Marady, have been trying to build relationships with for years. Every Sunday afternoon, the families were invited to receive the rice or staple food, followed by a short worship. This past Sunday, they were invited to join our usual Sunday worship and they are hearts are open.
- Our Team
- Wisdom and strength to respond to the needs of the churches and people while remaining faithful to the already-existing ministries.
- Well-being and protection – Many on our small team are struggling with different physical, mental, and relational needs.
- Renewing our team registration (every two years) with the government. We are facing a lot of obstacles. Pray for favor and that the process will go quickly and smoothly.
- Surviving COVID
- Wisdom for government and organization leadership in knowing how to help this country respond to the desperate needs of the people in Cambodia.
- The poor, the orphans, the widows – That people would respond obediently and faithfully to be the hands and feet of Jesus in caring for them.
- The economic hit affects the country, including our churches. Pray that God would provide the needs of the church (eg. being able to pay rent) and have wisdom to know how to minister to their flock.
- Food Bank Ministry – His love and power be experienced through this ministry. Through it would be an opportunity to effectively share the Gospel and the Spirit would change hearts, turn people to Christ.
- Rainy season each year brings needed rain but also causes floods and damage. Pray for many whose deal with its severe effects.
- Garbage collection strike – We take many things for granted until it’s taken from us. After a week-long strike, we are reminded how important these workers are. Pray for a quick resolution, for protection against all the pollution and filth, especially in the midst of flooding.
- Pray that God would be working to raise up leaders who would rule this country with justice and righteousness.
- Pray that the Church would stand firm and be a light in the darkness. Pray that the church would be faithful and his people remain unswerving and committed.