The Khmer project was incorporated into the South-Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists in April 2001.
Ministering to the Khmer people since September 1992.
Looking back to what feels like a lifetime compressed into six years of church planting in Cambodia, I have an overwhelming sense of God’s grace. We can think of a hundred of our own failures yet see God moving in a thousand gracious ways to accomplish His purpose to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Praise Him with us as we remember.
I remember the day the Thai soldiers pushed the last Cambodian refugees onto the repatriation buses. After six months of working in the camps in 1992, my wife Julie and I watched as smoke filled the air while soldiers burned the bamboo shacks that had housed hundreds of thousands. We waved goodbye as over three hundred newly baptized members went back to their country where hardly a church existed. We and other mission personnel joined them as they shared the gospel. Today, there are small groups planted in nearly every province of Cambodia.
Months and months of language learning and ministry followed. With joy, I remember the sound of Cambodian hymns ringing out across the slums where a small group of squatters worshipped the God who answered their prayers. Julie led the way in this part of Phnom Penh city, giving them hope, providing crocheting jobs, teaching health and Bible. They became known as the Water Lily Church. Today, that slum area is covered by a landfill, and the members are scattered, but God’s church is booming in the city with many, many worship groups.
I remember how often our hearts were broken by the intense poverty. I can still see the desperately skinny mother and her infant being cared for by ADRA worker, Kim Radford. It was the first known case of AIDS in Cambodia. Today, ADRA continues to make a significant impact on the country, and ASAP supports a wonderful home for HIV-positive ladies and their families.
I remember the day I walked into a Christian bookstore in Visalia, California and suddenly broke into tears. The huge array of Christian books in English was just too stark a contrast with our one lone resource in Khmer—the Bible. We began partnering with Cambodian members to produce contextualized Bible lessons and a Khmer hymnal. Today, the Cambodian Adventist Mission has a plethora of materials for health and personal evangelism. It was a special foundation for the work God would call us back to do as director of the Global Mission Buddhist Study Center, where we spend much time developing resources.
On a personal note, I remember the day Julie tremblingly carried our newborn off of the plane from Thailand into a country where she knew she would be surrounded with disease and couldn’t trust the medical services. Our little Joelle survived fevers and frequent visits to the slums. Julie would do it again two years later with Nathan. Today, Joelle, 17, and Nathan, 14, continue to partner with us in missions, teaching branch Sabbath schools and befriending neighbors in the unreached province of Ayutthaya, Thailand. Newcomer Josiah had his first visit to Cambodia this last year.
I remember the day an eight-year-old orphan named Rotha slipped off the streets into our home and into our hearts. He diligently studied Khmer, English and music at the Cambodian Adventist School. Fourteen years later, Rotha, this young man we call our son, teaches English in Thailand as a volunteer, giving as he has received.
There’s much more to remember. I remember the day of the coup, when soldiers marched through our yard, gas stations went up in flames, and tanks thundered by. But those are stories for another time.
I remember the day we said our last goodbye. The Sabbath before, we had been thrilled to baptize new members whom our first members had taught and prepared. It was the day the Union finally agreed to ordain me to the gospel ministry. It was the day we rejoiced to return to our family in America and the day we cried to leave our family in Cambodia. Now I recognize deeply what a debt of gratitude we owe to AFM and those who gave and prayed for us. What a privilege to serve our wonderful God and those who’ve never had a chance to know Him!
A huge thanks to each of you. If you would like to contact us or be part of our present prayer newsletter, you can reach us at email@example.com or www.BridgesforMinistry.org.
— Scott Griswold
Luke Cook (94-96), Carl Waldron (94-95), Chris Swafford (95-96), Jamie Chapman (95-96), Marissa Miller (97-98), Shelley Freeman (96-97), Chris Sorensen (96-97), Melinda Warden (96)