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Sanctuary/Saving Susan Cambodia Trip Update

By | Camboida, Mission Trips

We are happy to report that God has been at work in mighty ways in our first three days in country!  This is a brief synopsis of what we’ve been able to be a part of so far.


Day One:  Travel.

22 hours, Atlanta to Phnom Penh, Cambodia went very smoothly and we arrived to the enthusiastic reception of our partners in Cambodia:  Pastor Sihok and ambassadors from the Bileg Children’s Orphanage.  We were delighted to be passengers on the new Saving Susan Ministry bus from Bileg, a vehicle that has been able to accommodate our entire team of 11 and all its luggage!


Day Two:  Phnom Penh with Pastor Sihok

After just a little sleep, everyone was up and “raring to go!”  The team split into two groups…with three going to Pastor Sihok’s country church outside the capitol and attending services with about 30 faithful Christians there.  These wonderful folks were proclaiming Jesus even as loudspeakers from one of the many Buddhist temples blared in the distance.  Cambodia is over 90% Buddhist and Christians are an extreme minority.  The team has marveled at the boldness and courage of the believers in Jesus here.


At the same time, the remaining members of the team conducted a prayer walk at Haley’s House, a facility supported by Western Hills and Sanctuary over the years.  This prayer walk was not planned, but prompted by the Lord, and team members humbly read scripture and prayed at the facility, calling on the powerful name of Jesus, trusting that He is faithful and that the children there are the ones that Jesus loves.


Sunday afternoon the entire team attended services at Pastor Sihok’s main church in Phnom Penh and several of us were invited to give a word of encouragement to the congregation.


Day Three (Monday):  A Full Day!

We began the day with a trip to a government-run orphanage in the capitol city and anticipated simply meeting with the director and his staff, saying hello to some of the children, and then providing a delivered pizza lunch for all. We were greeted by everyone there, and they had prepared their largest meeting room for us to deliver a presentation or program–which we were not prepared to do!  But God made a way, as He always does, and after some moving testimony from some members, and to the delight of the children, we conducted games and had fun while we awaited the pizza.  This included Jay Arntzen leading everybody in “The Hokie Pokie” and Taylor Lance leading a version of “Rock Paper Scissors” called “Sampson, Delilah, and the Lion.”


After the visit to the orphanage we went to the Killing Fields national memorial park, and sadly walked through, learning of the horrific details of the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970’s.  We all left with heavy hearts, realizing how those crimes against the people have contributed to a cultural sense of hopelessness that Cambodians have to this day.  It also reconfirmed how important our mission to bring the hope of Christ to this nation truly is!


We then proceeded to Kampong Thom and had dinner with the children of Bileg Orphanage.  What a contrast we saw between the kids of Bileg, many of whom have adoptive parent partners through Saving Susan Ministry, and the kids we had seen earlier at the government orphanage.  Bileg’s kids were smiling and delighted to have us visit; the government orphans seemed by contrast to have little to be joyful about.


Please continue to pray for Team Cambodia as we continue to endeavor to be the hands, feet, and heart of Jesus.


Cambodia Update #3

By | Camboida, Mission Trips, Uncategorized

Today, Thursday, we spent the day participating in the multi-faceted mission of Dr. and Mrs. Castro. We toured the hospital with Mrs. Castro, whose given name, aptly is Joy. The hospital has a pharmacy, operating rooms for major and minor surgery, and residence rooms for visiting medical staff. A nurse from Hong Kong has been commissioned by her church to serve with the Castros, and they’re anticipating a medical mission team coming in August when some community members can receive the medical care they need. Mrs. Castro showed us where they hope to expand the facility in order to begin a training program for nurses.

Dr. Castro has developed a positive relationship with the public high school in the community, and as a result, staff from his school have the opportunity to teach English lessons there, as well as lessons about Christianity. This morning we visited two classes at the school. Each visit began with Tara sharing her testimony, and then our 4 students and the Cambodian students asked each other questions about life in their respective countries. Then Pastor Matt presented a message about who Jesus is and that He came to earth to redeem us from our sins, enabling us to have a loving, personal relationship with God, our Creator.

After lunch, we returned to the Castros’ school, called Solid Rock, and taught two classes. This time, Madeline presented her testimony,  the team introduced themselves and our students had a question and answer session again. They sang the “Father Abraham” song with the Cambodian students who knew the song and actions in Khmer, Kiana sang a solo, and then the team performed our rendition of the Zacchaeus story. Afterward, Matt presented the gospel story again. During the second afternoon class, the monsoon rains came pouring down, so we stayed in the classroom with the sixth graders, playing games in small groups with Uno and blocks, while other students enjoyed coloring.

Most of the students went home at 5:00, but some live on campus. The rain had stopped and the adults on the team went inside to converse with the Castros and our students played outdoor games with the remaining students. We listened to the Castros’ testimony, inspired by their faithfulness and passion to live and share the gospel with the community in which God has placed them. When asked how we could pray for them, Dr. Castro expressed his hope for the health and strength to serve, teach, and train God’s children in Cambodia for another 20 years.

We spent the end of the day in the dining hall with the students who are part of the orphanage and those who board on campus because their homes are too far away from the Solid Rock school to commute daily.  Matt presented an encouraging message from Isaiah 43 that God calls us by name, He knows our unique personalities, and He cares for us deeply. Then three small groups of students sang songs about Jesus for us.  Our translator for the day was a 28-year old woman named Kim who grew up in the Castros’ orphanage and was educated in the school. In addition to translating, she works in the hospital. She is an example of how the Castros’ are pouring the love and life of Jesus into the next generation.

Tomorrow we have the privilege of returning to the Castros’ ministry and spending time with two more classes. Then we will participate in an outreach ministry in the community, before undertaking the 3-hour drive to Phnom Penh for the return flight home.

Carla Sethna

Cambodia Update #2

By | Camboida, Mission Trips, Uncategorized

Good morning from Cambodia! On Sunday we had the opportunity to go to a different church than the other half of our team. After the service, we participated with our local partners to bathe 20+ children who live at a nearby dump. While it was a blessing to be present for one Sunday, it was evident that God was pouring through the teenagers who work with Paster Paul, and come back each week to look after and care for these children. Afterward, a few of us got to braid the kid’s hair, and we could see the joy beaming from the girls and women from their desire for physical touch and love.

On Monday, we met with Pastor Sihok to visit a church and school that he established at a local dump site. The people who live near the dump sort recycling for money. We arrived at a small building filled with kids and a few adults. Pastor Sihok began with a few interactive songs and a short message. The kids enjoyed watching us Americans squat down and spin around while we lip sang through the Khumai lyrics. Finally, our drama skills were tested with our “multimedia” production of Zaccheus. Most of the audience cackled with laughter as Zaccheus leaped onto our human tree. Later we split into three groups for VBS: coloring, games, and snacks. I’ve never seen so many pure smiles as we did while we were here. The presence of God filled this place.

Later that afternoon we joined Pastor Sihok to visit his other church in the countryside. It’s located about 45 minutes outside of Phnom Penh. Here we had an additional showing of our Zaccheus skit, and again we split up into three groups for VBS. Although there is a difficult language barrier, we had fun communicating through animal drawings and noises. The kids played soccer, jump rope, and Bible verse Jenga. Finally, we came together where the kids learned that God calls each of them by name.

In the evening, we met Pov, a friend of past trips to Cambodia, for dinner, where we engaged in fellowship over traditional Cambodian food. Pov is currently in his second year of medical school and he was eager to share his excitement to cut open a Cadaver. We were able to pray over Pov and he would appreciate continuous prayers while he is studying to become a doctor.

God continues to move in and through our team. Please continue to pray that God would protect and guide us as we seek to glorify Him!

Jadyn & Kiana Sethna