Finding Fruit in the Former Killing Fields
There is a small province in Cambodia near Battambang called Pailin. It’s a beautiful region that has gained recognition for its amazing gemstones. It has jungles, natural waterfalls and is close to the international border.
Back in the 1970s, the Khmer Rouge decided they would take the small province for its rich minerals. This resulted in genocide, well-documented in the 1984 film “The Killing Fields.” Well over a million people were murdered. Most of these were educated professionals.
Many years have passed. But the people of Pailin still bear physical and emotional scars. YWAMer Bob* says “Those who were in the Khmer Rouge when they were 20 years old are now grandparents of 70. In many cases, they had been forced to join, and to this day they remain in Pailin.”
Going Where There is No Church
Early in the history of YWAM Cambodia, two young men from the West planted a church among those who had not heard about Jesus. These two, Bob and James*, discipled the church in the ways of Jesus.
One day they said, “It’s nice out. Let’s go for a drive.” Along the way, they met an old man who was happy to talk to these foreign strangers. “I used to follow Jesus. But now that church has moved. It’s too far away for me to walk.”
Bob and James felt that the Lord had led them to this part of Cambodia.
Soon they met another local man named Peter*. He was eager to learn how to disciple the believers. Peter and James made a strong and faithful team. Together they were effective witnesses and discipled many.
A Movement Begins!
Encouraged by the good fruit, Peter and James felt prompted by the Lord to go to another village to share. To their joy, several came to the Lord. But there was more. One who had recently come to faith immediately gathered others to hear the Good News!
The following week, thirteen people came together to hear the gospel of Jesus shared by James and Peter. The week after that, there were even more. The people were no longer content to hear about Jesus only once a week. “Let’s meet every day next week!” they pleaded.
In time, Peter left the area to pursue a new job. A few of the followers stopped coming to the gatherings. Peter had been a “man of peace” who had opened the door to that community.
Let the Children Come!
Those who had come to Jesus and remained in the area continued to grow in faith and maturity. A plan was made- “Let’s show the Jesus film in the local school.”
God gave the believers favor, and they were able to show the film. About forty children and adults came to watch. The available time only allowed them to show the first half. “Come back next week, and see the second half.”
After they showed it, Bob and James did an overview of the gospel the children and teachers had learned of through the film. To their delight, a number of people came forward and were healed in Jesus’ name!
The men told them “You have learned of the God of healing. Now know Him as the God of salvation as well!”
New Teammate, New Strategy
James and Bob felt as though their team was lacking someone after Peter had left. But soon the Lord provided.
Another local man, Vernon*, would help advance the healing ministry. With the power to heal in Jesus name, they went from house to house as a team.
When they came to a dwelling, they did not stand at the door to speak to people. Instead, they were invited in. And they stayed… for about 3 days! They slept there at night. In the mornings, they joined in with the life of their host family, working their fields with them.
By that time Bob had gone on to start work elsewhere. He was happy though, to come back and support his fellow leaders.
Recently, he was overjoyed, to discover that local believers were baptizing many who had come to faith. These men, newer to the ministry, were praying with great power. Also, many who had not known Jesus before were having dreams of Him!
What about the province of Pailin- the “Killing Fields”?
Bob says, “It was far to drive and not a place where people wanted to go.” Very few in the area knew about Jesus.
It was as though the land was cursed by its history.
Bob began by joining a small outreach team to Pailin. After a fruitful time, he was convinced of the Lord’s calling to that blighted land.
Two years passed. He returned with another outreach team, and went to Pailin. The team were thrilled to see many people commit to follow Jesus!
Soon the fruit of their ministry created a “problem”. How were these new believers to be discipled?
“Naturally, at first we invited them to existing churches. But sad to say, the churches didn’t welcome them in as we had hoped.”
Don’t Just Add… Multiply!
“We were concerned, as we really didn’t know how to start churches. The oldest in our team was 26 years old. Born in the refugee camps, he had dropped out of school in the second grade. The new believers were mostly young people as well. We soon realized that we needed to learn about youth work too.”
Thankfully Bob and his team found out about the Harvest Multiplication Training program. The course taught them about church planting movements. They learned how to disciple believers who would in turn disciple others. All of this was taking place in a location where no one had wanted to go.
Choosing His plan
The YWAM team also found themselves starting a school. This was for young people who wished to learn English. Once again, the team needed to depend on the Lord for wisdom and resources.
In no time they had 176 students attending!
“This was not in our plan. But it was clearly God’s plan,” says Bob.
Other people became involved as the Lord called them. An old man served his community by informally tutoring young people. As the Lord moved in his heart, he began to hand out gospel tracts as well.
Bob says, “It was the little acts of obedience that added up. We were being prepared to take a leap of faith…going long term to Pailin with a team. This involved training, exploring, and praying.”
And, of course, obeying.
Want to Know More?
Does this story inspire you? Would you be willing to go where others will not? God is in the habit of doing incredible things through ordinary people!
Sign up today to attend a FREE LIVE Training on June 12th or 13th called “How to Have A Massive Kingdom Impact: Even if You Are Not Rich, Famous or Super-Talented.” You’ll learn more about movements like this one and how you can get involved in one.
*Not their real names.