My Experience in Cambodia

As an introverted, highly organised and unadventurous person, stepping out of my comfort zone without knowing exactly how things would pan out was a very frightening thought. I had fears of travelling alone for the first time and to a country where I knew no family or friends, and would have difficulty communicating with others (because I did not know the language). In addition, there were the unfamiliar faces, crazy traffic, intense heat, and a less comfortable lifestyle.

IMG_0501_1Many might wonder why anyone would leave the comfort and familiarity of Australia to go to a place like this. Although these concerns were daunting at the start, overtime they diminished to nothing more than trivial matters in comparison to the experience of doing life with new friends and serving God. To be honest, going to Cambodia for the long-term was never part of my life plan. God had different plans for me though. As I softened my heart to be receptive to what God wanted to do in my life, He brought me through one of the most life-changing and memorable experiences of my life.

IMG_0575_1I had the privilege of spending four months in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, teaching English at New Life School and at the free English and Office Skills classes held at New Life Fellowship Church. Many students, who are sponsored, from New Life School, come from desperate circumstances – rescued from abusive situations, and who lived in the dump, orphanages or were displaced from homes. Many of the youth and young adult students who attended the free English and Office Skills classes often came from poor families, and were studying and working at the same time to support themselves. Knowing English is a valuable asset in Cambodia as many tertiary courses are taught in English and being bilingual created more career opportunities. The students’ desire to learn, diligence and big dreams for their futures were motivational, which made me very appreciative of my relatively easy access to education.

11198523_10152873334071395_1597419302_nI also had the opportunity to visit the villages in the provinces. There were many in need of medical attention and many who had not heard the gospel. Many people lived in poorly constructed huts, with a straw mat on top of a wooden structure or hammocks for a bed and a few pots/pans for cooking. They did not possess many belongings. Children did not own fancy gadgets or toys. Although they did not have many material possessions, their contentment and generosity were refreshing.

The majority of Cambodian Christians are first-generation believers. I have heard many stories of transformation, healing, and other miracles from my Khmer friends. Their child-like faith, believing that God hears and will answer their prayers, was inspirational. Worship and prayer times were phenomenal, and I could tangibly feel God’s presence. I attended Encounter, a church retreat, where we went expecting to encounter God. I heard from God, received inner-healing and was spiritually set free.I was led to read Psalm 25. One of the many things that God said to me was Trust me because I will never disappoint you. When I looked up other versions of the Bible, in Psalm 25:3, the Amplified Bible and Easy-to-Read Version, said No one who trusts in you will be disappointed.It was then that any doubt (of hearing God’s voice versus my own voice) vanished.

My experiences in Cambodia were life-changing. I return a transformed person, with new perspectives and a deeper relationship with Abba Father God. I learned to trust in Jesus completely (without holding anything back and to surrender all control),  to rest in His sovereignty that He will work things together for good, and to trust that He has my best interests at heart and will look after me. His calming, restful and joyous peace filled my heart and mind. Being human, doubts and “what ifs” still come, but for me, it is a choice to choose to put my hope in God every day and in every circumstance. Although I was devastated when I left, because I had grown in my relationship with God and had fallen in love with the Khmer community, I now look to the future with excitement; trusting in God’s unconditional love and care for me, and looking forward to His next step for my life.

– Min-Li