At Wellspring we have partnered with a couple of communities in Cambodia!
We are passionate about the majority world and being deeply engaged with our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in poverty. We are motivated by the disconnection between the Australian church and the church overseas and the desire to see the church in Australia to have a deep care, concern, involvement and advocacy for Christians there.
Our desire is to establish a mutually beneficial partnership with a local church and community in a way which empowers, blesses and grows our communities in Cambodia and Australia. We want to help with the physical and spiritual needs of this community but also allow the Khmer people to teach, correct and assist us.
Andong Village, Oddar Meanchey Province
Our connection to these communities is through Pastor Abraham Hang and the communities he supports at Andong Village and in Oddar Meanchey Province.
Andong is a village of about 6000 people about 30km from the CBD. The village is predominantly a group of people who were squatting in the city centre before being forcibly removed by the government. They are desperately poor, too far from the city to travel for work and whilst there was some early aid work amongst them, there is relatively little now.
Abraham is a Khmer Christian who has been ministering to them for many years now. Abraham has an amazing testimony which would take many pages to tell, but in brief he was born in to a Buddhist family and was expected to become the next ‘high priest’ (effectively the temple business manager with religious duties) of the local temple. Instead God took him on a long and varied path to eventually becoming a Christian. He then trained with the Evangelical Fellowship of Cambodia (EFC, governing body over 80% of evangelical churches) in their diamond key project. After this training he felt called to minister to the Andong Resettlement Village.
In its first two years, the church has grown to around 140 members, with new Christians added almost weekly. The church continues to grow as Abraham shares his life with the people and is equipping them to be the people of God in their place. Much of the day to day work in Andong has now been passed on to local leaders whom Abraham has trained up, enabling Abraham to spend his time on a new project in Oddar Meanchey Province (Northern Cambodia). Initally treated with extreme suspicion, Abraham and the Christians are now loved by the people because of the love of Jesus they have shown.
Abraham models a holistic ministry, loving in actions and words, caring for people's spiritual and physical needs, Christian and non Christian alike. The church members are learning to do the same. They use the church's giving directly back into supporting the Andong community. They frequently take sick people to hospital, paying for their medical expenses and caring from them on their return. In this way they are bringing the gospel to the people in a way which is compelling and tangible.
One of the new ministries initiated by the church at the beginning of 2008 is a primary school. This has government accreditation to teach years 1-3. The staff are all from Andong village whom Abraham has selected. Abraham himself used to work for the Ministry of Education. Education, particularly English, is one of the greatest needs in Cambodia and is probably the most significant factor for people to gain sustainable employment. The cost of public shools, let alone private, is beyond the means of the poor in Cambodia, so the primary school is a strategic way for the church to serve the community. We began our partnership with Abraham by supporting the three staff members US$50 each per month, which enabled them to support their family. We now focus our supprt in Oddar Meanchey province. The teachers in both Andong and Oddar Meanchey are highly committed, often turning down other, higher paying, jobs to serve in the school and some have volunteered their time for 6 months before they are able to be supported.