“This is for you,” Jader said, handing me a book. Global Mission: Front Line Cambodia the cover read. Our new student missionary friend from Brazil told us about how he had helped clean out a library in Brazil and came across this book in the discard pile. Now he was at training with us in Berrien Springs, and he was offering us the book.
We began reading a chapter each night, and I quickly started recognizing many family friends among the names mentioned.
Judy Aitken, the “Mother of Refugees,” was an American pioneer with Volunteers International and AFM in Cambodia. She was present for my dad’s conversion in the refugee camp and nurtured many Cambodians after the war. She still serves Cambodians through her ministry, ASAP.
A refugee named Hang Dara accepted Jesus in the camps and later quit his lucrative job to help Judy Aitken find the scattered Adventists by using radio announcements throughout the country. These efforts helped reunite the Cambodian Adventist Church. Hang and his wife now serve in leadership at the Cambodian Adventist Mission.
In 1982, my mom, an American, went to work in the refugee camps as a short-term missionary and befriended a Cambodian lady, Sivandeth. When sponsored to France, Sivandeth searched for an Adventist church because of my mom’s influence. Through letters, Sivandeth then shared about God with her sister, Sovanna, who became the first baptized Adventist in Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge genocide. Sivandeth was also instrumental in introducing my parents to each other!
As we read this book, the historic picture of the Cambodian church began to form in our minds, enhanced by my family history and involvement. We were continually wowed by God’s persevering work in Cambodia and how He used so many missionaries to restore the gospel to this war-torn country. My dad has a similar story, but God hasn’t called him back to Cambodia (yet). But God has brought the story full-circle by calling Eric and me to serve in Cambodia. Cambodia is still highly unreached, and we are thrilled to see how God weaves us into the beautiful tapestry of His love in our new home country.