Cambodia Reflection 2023

By Sandra Bobbitt
Most Americans will recall exactly where they were when our country changed forever on September 11, 2001. My husband, Wes Bobbitt, and a small team from MPUMC were in Cambodia on 9/11. As the team traveled across Cambodia visiting the Methodist churches, they were offered prayers and flowers by the people expressing sorrow about the tragic event in our country. These simple acts were humbling to the team considering the tragic history of Cambodia and the genocide by the Khmer Rouge as recently as the 1970s. Wes, a photographer, captured this generous spirit of the Cambodian people in his photographs and the stories he told. I was inspired to experience this country and the people, so I joined Rev. Nathan Arledge, Jack Hankins, Lynn Hankins, Janie Reynolds, and Somer Hammack on the recent mission trip to Cambodia. We experienced the same generosity and hospitality as the team had in 2001, along with a lot more. Our team was in Cambodia to spend time with the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) and learn about their mission to “transform people and places for God’s mission in Cambodia.” This work has been done with the support of Myers Park United Methodist Church and the Mission & Outreach Fund for more than 22 years. We experienced first hand that change is happening for the people of Cambodia because of GBGM and our support. The people with GBGM remind me of the words in James 1:Verse 25 “…but be doers of the word and not merely hearers…” This is a group of Christian doers. The programs from Global Ministries all exist to share God’s love and equip the Cambodian people to break the chain of poverty through education. This happens though the Susanna Wesley Ministry offering a dorm and scholarships for young women to attend the universities. The Shine Project provides vocational training and education to women to learn a skill so they can follow their dreams. The Street Children Ministry serves the poorest families and children in Phnom Penh as a school, gathering place, and community center. Project ARK teaches vocational skills training and provides dorm living to human trafficking survivors. The Sunday School Curriculum Development program creates online Bible lessons, worship songs, and music videos and teacher training. It was inspiring to see all this work done with intent and purpose by the small GBGM team of 12, led by Andrew Lee, the Country Coordinator. We also experienced some transformational “firsts” on this trip. The first time observing Ash Wednesday for the young women at the Susanna Wesley Ministry Dorm. The soccer field dedication and first soccer game at the Lialoha School in the Kampong Chhneng province. Gardening and painting for the first beautification project for the Street Children Ministry. These “firsts” are possible because of the GBGM programs and the Mission & Outreach Fund. Our team went to Cambodia to learn about Global Ministries. I left feeling honored to represent the congregation of Myers Park United Methodist Church and inspired to know that the Mission & Outreach Fund is changing the life of people in Cambodia by being a “doer.”