Members of five Methodist bodies around the world initiated a new global missions effort entitled, “Methodist Mission in Cambodia,” on January 29. Since then, more than 200 churches and 150 lay pastors gave their support to the effort, and visited the impoverished nation to reach out with the heart of the gospel.
To date, the Methodist missionaries: opened two English classes and a computer class at an orphanage center; provided a Christmas celebration for the orphans and children from the community; gave school materials, tuition and classes to a different orphanage in a different city; opened class to 150 students in Bassac; Planed Christmas celebrations for 400 children in Bassac; gave basic medical and spiritual support to people with AIDS; helped pregnant women with prenatal visits and delivery costs.
One of the missionaries assigned by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries was Clara Mridula Biswas. Biswas, upon seeing the immense poverty and pain in Cambodia, began the “Light at the Dump Sites” program last summer. The “Light” program offers scholarship and nutritional support for 20 students, along with a church school program for additional children on Sunday afternoons in a classroom provided by the Vulnerable Children Assistance Organization.
"Residents of the area are from the far Cambodian provinces of Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Svay Rieng, Kampot and Prey Veng who flock to the city for job possibilities," Biswass wrote. "Others are products of the city - neglected, abused and in abject poverty. All desire a better economic present and a hopeful future, but trying circumstances bring all to what seems a forsaken place."
"Our goal is to instill confidence and hope in children and their families of poverty, let them understand that in the eyes of God, they are people of worth," she continued. "We also engage, support and nurture children's mothers, young women and their families at the dump site in forming sustainable solutions to abject poverty through economic literacy, vocational education, parenting skills and health care awareness and practice."
The Methodist Mission in Cambodia involves the joint effort of United Methodists in the United States, United Methodists from Switzerland/France, the Korean Methodist Church, the Methodist Church in Singapore and the World Federation of Chinese Methodist Churches. The initial group of 185 mission churches had its first annual meeting at Phnom Penh. According to the United Methodist News Service, all of the delegates, including missionaries, were Asian, except for two European-American and two African missionaries.