ATLANTA – As Global Ministries missionaries, the Rev. Andrew Soon Lee and Janice Sehyung Lee lead a multifaceted ministry throughout the country of Cambodia. Today, the Methodist Church of Cambodia (MCC) thrives in 10 districts with 55 elder pastors and 70 lay leaders shepherding 7,500 Christians.
“Our focus is mainly on people,” says Janice, who has been in Phnom Penh with her husband since 2017. “When we do any kind of mission, it’s all about people.”
Among the many projects through which the Lees work with MCC to minister to the whole person are Community Health and Agricultural Development (CHAD) initiatives, such as well-building and hygiene trainings. Over the last two years, 90 wells have been built in rural communities.
“We are providing clean water to people in need in provinces where MCC churches are located,” says Andrew.
Increasingly, these communities are contributing a percentage of the well-building costs. Having started at a 10% investment, communities are now contributing 20-30% of the costs and, as a result, are taking greater ownership for their own clean water.
The Cambodia Mission Initiative also ministers to socially marginalized children who come from families who cannot afford the cost of school. Global Ministries missionaries collaborate with a local nonprofit that operates a school for these children, providing uniforms and school supplies as well as funds for building renovations, teacher salaries and trainings. As Andrew explains, “The street children ministry…is changing the community a lot. We are now providing Christian values classes with the permission of the school, so we are teaching them and sharing the love of God based on the Bible…The school is growing, and we are so glad.”
Mission in Cambodia stretches beyond Phnom Penh to Christians and non-Christians throughout the country and even around the world. Because of their use of digital technology, the Lees believe that is just how far the gospel is reaching.
When a local pastor approached the Lees to request that they create Sunday school curriculum, they jumped at the chance, but they wanted to ensure the curriculum would be relevant and useful. In the 21st century, in a country where everyone has smart phones, they conceived of a digital children’s education curriculum that includes PDF lesson plans for Sunday school teachers, YouTube versions of lessons and stories, children’s praise music videos and audio files, and cartoons sharing Christian values for children.
It’s the various videos that have proven to be popular beyond what the Lees could have imagined: “One of the videos has 150,000 views,” shares Andrew. “It is definitely going beyond the four walls of MCC churches. It is reaching out to other denominations – all the Christians in Cambodia.”
Methodist missionaries in Cambodia teach children about the love and character of Jesus through popular materials like these YouTube videos, but that love and Christ-like character is woven through every one of their holistic ministries – from providing clean water to empowering women for promising careers.
“When your focus is on people,” explains Janice, “you see the needs of a whole person…Ministry just naturally becomes holistic.”
Global Ministries missionaries are a tangible connection between The United Methodist Church and mission. Through denominational or ecumenical ministries, missionaries bear witness to God’s presence all around the world. They are called by God and sent out to serve by the church, usually placed in a new cultural context beyond their country of origin. Missionaries engage in ministry that is defined by mutuality and partnership, seeking to expand the mission of God already present and active in people and places.
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