Reflection of God’s Beauty in a Dark World | By: Pastor Teresa Tong
In early 2008, Missionary Janice Lo came to share her Cambodian ministry with the RHCCC staff. The message deeply touched our hearts. As she invited me to lead a short term mission team to her church, Phnom Penh Grace Christian Church (PPGCC), for hosting a children camp, the Holy Spirit prompted me that it would just be the beginning of a fruitful mission, ready to be developed. With God’s grace, in a short period, I have coordinated a team of 7 workers from the Children’s Ministry to launch our first mission trip to Cambodia. To prepare the team, we have researched on the culture and history of Cambodia. It opened our eyes to their tragic history and touched our hearts with their sufferings and needs. The sad story began more than 40 years ago …
Cambodia had been under the French control and her influence since the 19 century. In 1953, Cambodia gained the independence with Prince Sihanouk as its ruler. However, the prince was overturned by his general in 1970. With the support of the Khmer Rouge and its leader, Pol Pot, Prince Sihanoukville returned five years later to reclaim his power. The Cambodians rejoiced for his return, thinking that it was the end to the civil war but indeed, it was only the beginning of a terrible nightmare. The Khmer Rouge craved for a full control of the country, so they implemented a nation-wide cleansing, to remove any small sign of opposition. Since April 1975 when the Khmer Rouge marched into the capital city of Phnom Penh, within 3 years and 8 months, 1/3 of the Cambodian population (around 2.5 million out of 7 million people) were either killed irrationally in a brutal way, at the famous Killing Field or the genocide concentration camps, or else they were starved to death. It led to a long period of civil war. Eventually the UN stepped in to bring peace to the land in the 90’s. A military leader, Hun Sen rose up and has been in power for 28 years till now (2013). Under his dictatorship, Cambodia seems to restore its political stability and economic progress but many problems also spouted out, such as corruption, extreme poverty, idol-worshipping and worst of all – young sex trafficking with children as young as 5-6 years old serve as a prostitute to local and oversea pedophiles.
With a deeper understanding of its tragic past and the crying needs of children and youth of the present, we realize that only God’s love could save this nation from its nightmare and heal its wound. Ever since our first mission trip to Cambodia in 2008, we have developed a deep love for their children and youth, who are so pure at heart and eager to receive the Gospel message. All our team members have witnessed God’s guiding hands and repeated miracles. As I flipped through my mission journals for the past 5 years, it allows me to prepare a briefing for each year’s mission trip that reflects God’s beauty in a dark world.