It’s been quite awhile since I mentioned this, but the church here in Phnom Penh, Cambodia reminds me so much of our home church in Long Beach. This is especially true of those early days of our home church. While you today may know our home and sending church as Pacific Baptist Church, when my brother (Pastor Joe) started the church over 27 years ago it was called Cambodian Baptist Church. In those early days, while the church was reaching many people for Christ, both young and old alike, we were definitely reaching more young people than we were older folks. If you had visited the church in those early days, you would have seen a lot of children and a lot of teenagers. You might have been tempted to call us a “teenie-bopper” church, as one woman did after visiting a service years ago. In those early days of the church we found that it was difficult to reach the older Khmer folks. Very difficult! So after much prayer, and some really good counsel, Pastor Joe started to focus his attention on the next generation. Yes, those “teenie bopppers.” It all started with a dream God had placed in my brother’s heart some 27 years ago. That God-given dream became a strong godly desire and led to a dogged-determination to reach and train the next generation for Christ. Little by little the vision became clearer and clearer. God blessed in a miraculous way!
Some of those children and/or teens that were reached at the old Cambodian Baptist are now serving here in Cambodia. Bounna Has, Debra Keo, Samantha San, Sara and Neaty Vong, and Adrian Torres. A couple of them (Koumaly and Darath Thongy) are presently serving in a “Creative Access Nation.” Jennifer Sei, a wonderful young lady, who was reached as a child served for nearly four years in a “Creative Access Nation.” One of those “teenie boppers,” who was reached as a teen in Long Beach, is presently serving as a missionary in Singapore. In addition, to these missionaries, many of those “teenie boppers” have grown up and are today serving on staff of Pacific Baptist Church, Pacific Baptist School, and/or Pacific Baptist Bible College. Oh, and let’s not forget the many faithful deacons and laymen at Pacific Baptist who were reached as children or teenagers. Not bad for a bunch of “Teenie Boppers!” God has been very good to us!!!
Please continue to pray that our sending church will continue to dream on for Christ, reaching their Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and will continue to send forth laborers into the uttermost parts of the world!
Just like Cambodian Baptist Church in Long Beach had some adults, actually quite a few for a new church, the primary emphasis for many years was the next generation, or the young people. Yes, those “teenie boppers!” So it is here at Pacific Baptist Church of Phnom Penh. We definitely have adults in attendance every week. In fact, many adults, but it is the young people who we are most excited about. There are many reasons for this, not the least being, that there are many young people here in the country. I read these words recently:
“Cambodia has the largest youth and adolescent population in the Southeast Asia region, where one in three Cambodians are between the ages of 15 and 29 years old, and two-thirds (67 percent) of the population is under 29.”
In yet another place, I read that nearly 32 percent of the Cambodian population is under the age of fourteen. Add to the fact that this country is overrun with young people the reality that these young people, especially now in the twenty-first century, are far more open to new ideas (including the gospel) than the previous generations of Khmer people. That’s good news for the Good News of the Gospel. We are doing what we can, by God’s grace, to win and disciple the next generation for Christ. Yes sir, we are going after those “teenie boppers.” Why? So that we can see them saved, baptized, discipled, and finally, so that we can see them serving Christ and reaching their own people. That’s what it’s all about! These “teenie boppers” will grow up and they can and will do a much better job reaching their people than we can ever do. Of course, that’s if we will give ourselves to the cause. By God’s grace, we are doing what we can to reach and teach them. We have children’s ministries, not only in Phnom Penh, but in many other villages outside of the city. Along with preaching the gospel to them, teaching them the Bible, and giving them ample opportunities to serve Christ when they are ready, we are also teaching them English as a means of discipleship and bettering their future opportunities. Many of the national “leaders” in our ministry, in fact, almost everyone of them, was reached as a child or a teenager. In other words, what worked in Long Beach is working in Cambodia and for this, we thank God!
Please continue to pray for the team here in Cambodia, as well as for the other men and women who are serving in this country, to be used in a very significant way in reaching the next generation for Christ here in Phnom Penh and in the some 14,000 villages in this country that have no gospel witness!