Hope is where our heart is

Pastor Mark Schultz from LifeWay Lutheran Church, Epping and Newcastle, in Sydney’s north-west, recently led a team of volunteers to the Lutheran Church of Cambodia’s new outreach point in Tang Krang village, Kampong Cham province, Cambodia. The team was comprised of people from LifeWay and Immanuel Lutheran Church, Woden ACT. The two congregations funded building a manse and worship and community centres, which were opened while they were there. Pastor Mark baptised six young people at the same service (read his story). Jacob and Kate Traeger from Immanuel Lutheran Church were part of the team.

If the crowded streets of Phnom Penh, with their overloaded motorbikes and dusty, open shopfronts, are a world away from Canberra, then the village of Tang Krang in Kampong Cham province is once removed again.

Here, the daily routines were vastly different to back home. We watched a boy bring three cows past each lunchtime; the baker came past each morning with bread loaded on a motorbike; work stopped for several hours to allow for rest in the heat of the day. Here, some houses have electricity and a television. Others only have mats on wooden platforms above a dirt floor, hammocks strung between the stilts.

It’s hardly surprising that the young adults all move to the city.  We would probably do the same.

Here, our purchase of a $100 circular saw was regarded as unnecessary, an almost extravagant luxury. The locals seemed surprised at the amount of care we took to ensure the fence was straight and sturdy.

But while Tang Krang is far removed from Canberra, it is not removed from God. Here, a church rises from a reclaimed rice paddy. Here, a man and his family have accepted Christ’s call to serve and witness. In just a week, we saw the locals becoming more comfortable with our presence, a Christ-centred community forming and beginning to grow – and six more young adults being welcomed into the family of God, baptised by Pastor Mark Schultz, our team leader.

To meet these people who God had already placed on our hearts, and to share in their joy, was special. To see this village which we had already been praying for, and to play a part in what God is doing there, was an immense privilege.

Here, there is hope.

If you, your congregation or your school, would like to know how you can connect to the mission of God through a LCA International Mission partnership, you are invited to phone Erin on (08) 8267 7300 or email erin.kerber@lca.org.au. For more information, go to www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/start-a-partnership/

Read more stories about congregational partnerships at www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/local-partners/congregations/