One of the kindest signs of community that we as a family have experienced in our Neland CRC congregation is the way the whole faith family contributes to an educational fund that helps parents meet the heavy tuition load while their kids are in school. In a similar way, I witnessed in November how the “Love Cambodia” congregation, one of World Renew’s local partners, blesses their surrounding communities.
Pastor Pharek walked with us to the humble home of a couple that is working hard to support their kids in school. Yun, the husband, and Neum, the wife, received one cow from the Love Cambodia cow bank and will pay its $300 value back with 10% interest at the end of this year — so that another family can receive a cow. This is one of those neat examples of the World Renew Christmas gift catalog in action, providing the start-up capital for the cow bank!
Meanwhile, Yun and Neum’s cow has had 3 calves. From the sale of milk and chickens, Yun and Neum are not only able to pay back their cow loan but are also sending money to the capital city to support their oldest daughter in school. The total school support they and their daughter scrape together is $125 per month. This is a very large sum of money for subsistence farmers in rural Cambodia. How do they do it? This man-and-wife team gathers lots of forage every day for the cows to eat. That’s a lot of work in the rainy season when the cows have to be kept in the home lot, and cannot wander into the neighbors’ rice ﬁelds!
In spite of the hard work it was great to see Yun and Neum smile and to hear them describe their achievement in supporting their children with such a sense of accomplishment. Pastor Pharek said that experiences like this one have been a blessing to his congregation because they can see what a channel of God’s blessing they have been and recognize the respect and appreciation they are building among their neighbors.
Then in December, I was privileged to meet Theary, a woman whose family was blessed when they came to the U.S. as refugees from Cambodia in the 1980s. They received support from Millbrook CRC when they arrived to help them transition and assimilate into life in North America.
Looking back, it’s a wonder to see the way that the Lord worked through the Millbrook congregation. Theary has now become a highly-trained lawyer and human-rights leader who returned to Cambodia and is using her great language ability to make the Cambodian Bible much easier to read. She told me that the Christian church in Cambodia is now one of the fastest growing churches in the world and that thousands of Cambodians are using the books of the Bible she worked on creating.
So, I share these blessings with you — seeing how congregations bless their members and giving a hand to neighbors who are willing to work hard to help themselves. We can clearly see how the Lord works out his purposes over the long-range and in surprising ways when congregations get involved with their neighbors both far and near.
In closing, I invite you to take a look at my blog, where I share more glimpses of life and work in Asia: tompost.org