I am a firm believer that the best, most enduring travel memories are formed largely by the people you meet along the way. The best way to experience another country and its culture is to meet people in their daily lives, to see the world from their perspective and to walk in their shoes for […]
I am a firm believer that the best, most enduring travel memories are formed largely by the people you meet along the way. The best way to experience another country and its culture is to meet people in their daily lives, to see the world from their perspective and to walk in their shoes for a little while.
This was certainly the case for the 17 members of a team, predominantly from the Freeling Parish in South Australia, who participated in a joint mission trip to Cambodia in January 2008. We were warmly invited to take an active part in the existing mission work of the Lutheran Church in Singapore (LCS), in the Kampong Chhnang province of Cambodia. It was a very rich and encouraging experience, and the memories we have of our Singaporean brothers and sisters we got to know will not be easily forgotten. I would like to share with you three characteristics of the LCS which we couldn’t help but notice in our work together: hospitality, hard work, and inextinguishable passion.
The first thing we will always remember of the LCS is their warmth and hospitality. The first stop on our mission trip was a two-day orientation in Singapore. To put it bluntly, we were thoroughly spoilt. From the time we were met at the airport to the time we flew out again our every need was attended to – and we certainly didn’t starve. Team members were billeted with various members of the LCS, and all our hosts did their utmost to give us a truly Singaporean experience. After a short orientation session on Saturday morning, where we joined with our Singaporean colleagues for the first time to run through the practicalities of the trip and to discuss the actual work we would be doing in Cambodia, we were shouted to a guided tour of Singapore on the famous MRT train system. The conclusion to this was a Singaporean-style BBQ, provided by one of the host families, while the younger members of the team were taken on a night tour of the Singapore zoo. Our final experience of Singaporean hospitality was a warm reception at worship on Sunday morning, before we departed for Cambodia that afternoon.
With such an overwhelmingly hospitable experience to begin our journey, it was no surprise that our families at home were beginning to question our motives for going. They had nothing to worry about. After we were joined by the LCS team in Cambodia a few days later, we were soon introduced to another of their trade-mark characteristics: hard work. Life in Singapore is not simply a matter of eating and shopping, as first impressions might suggest. In their mission work, the LCS is driven by an unbelievable work ethic. Every aspect of the trip was immaculately planned, carefully thought through, and meticulously executed. In fact, in our two weeks together, we barely encountered a single hiccup. On the ground, Dr Chang and his team were always on the go, from early in the morning to late at night, whether making arrangements, viewing sites, investigating possibilities for future work or meeting with government officials. It is little surprise that in a relatively short space of time they have managed to establish such an extensive network of contacts and projects within Cambodia. When preparing for a trip to another country, it is certainly a comfort to know that everything has been well prepared and all the necessary arrangements have been made.
The third characteristic of the LCS we were privileged to see while working with them in Cambodia was their undeniable passion for Christ and his church. The simple fact that a relatively small church like the LCS, with little more than 3500 members, has taken the initiative to establish mission work in Cambodia and many other places around the world, as well as within their own community, is a clear witness to this passion. Their desire to see the hope and love of Christ being spread throughout the world is heartwarming and contagious, and their willingness to give freely of their time and resources is inspirational. I can’t imagine that any of our team returned to Australia in January without being touched by the depth of this passion and commitment to see the gospel proclaimed to the countless Cambodian ears that haven’t heard it! For the people of the Lutheran Church in Singapore, the gospel is indeed more precious than any other gift we have to give, far too precious to keep it for ourselves.
It will not be easy to forget our new friends from Singapore, and we are grateful for this chance we have had to share in their mission to the people of Cambodia. We are also thankful that the LCS has inspired us with their generosity, hard work and passion. We hope that this experience has opened up the door to join with many other brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world in sharing the work, on a global scale, that God has called his church to do.
This story was also published in the July 2008 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.
If you, your school or your congregation, 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 email@example.com. For more information, go to www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/start-a-partnership/
Read more stories about our partner church in Cambodia at www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/international-partners/cambodia/