15 December 2017

Great Expectations

William Carey, regarded by many as the father of modern missions’, is well-known for his statement, “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God”. Carey, an English shoemaker, was converted as a young adult and felt called to mission in India. This calling involved great sacrifice and significant personal suffering. Yet Carey was convicted that, if Jesus’ claims were true, people needed to know them. He was also convicted that when we serve God with all that we have, God is faithful in using His servants. Despite a limited educational background, he committed to attempting great things for God. By the end of his life, he had translated the Bible into seven languages, written grammar and elementary language books, and been instrumental in improving the social conditions of the natives of India. He expected great things, and God didn’t let him down.

The leadership of Care for Cambodia shares Carey’s ‘great expectations’. Care for Cambodia is a children’s home for about sixty orphaned and rescued children, with an offshoot ministry which provides humanitarian care and educational support for 62 rural villages throughout Cambodia. Care for Cambodia is based on the edge of Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.

However, one challenge the Care for Cambodia leadership faces is that few Cambodians share their sense of expectation that things can change and that hope can become a reality. With the country’s legacy of incredible conflict and suffering, and its history of pervasive corruption, many are cynical about the possibility of any significant, widespread improvement to the status quo.

Care for Cambodia seeks to challenge this mentality and seeks to declare the hope of bringing God’s Kingdom to earth in this nation. We seek to do this through education of young people. Caring for children has been at the centre of CfC’s work since it began in the 1990s. However, recently, we have identified the importance of raising up young adults who will believe in and model change for the future. Thus, we are investing significantly in discipling and mentoring school leavers and students. These young people will be significant role-models for the other children connected with our organisation. As they pursue personal and societal progress, we pray that those watching them will be convinced to have ‘great expectations’ for their own future and for the future of Cambodia.

Some of the young people who leave Care for Cambodia’s care show an aptitude for academic learning. They are encouraged to pursue higher education at university. Care for Cambodia seeks sponsorship for such children, either through friends of our organisation, partner organisations or churches. These young people are relocated to student accommodation, and our staff monitors their academic and personal progress throughout their further studies. Some young people are more interested in pursuing vocational training. CfC seeks out suitable training courses for them and, depending on the location of these courses, they seek to find suitable accommodation for them.

Currently, Care for Cambodia supports over twenty young people in this way. One example is Bonnie. She writes the following:- Before I moved to live in Phnom Penh, my family lived in the countryside. The standard of living in Pursat for my family was very poor. We did not have enough food to eat and we faced many problems. My parents decided to move to live in Phnom Penh. There, my parents borrowed some money to buy a small house in a slum area. At that time, my father worked in construction and my mother baked Khmer cakes and sold them in the market. We are a big family and my parents did not earn enough money so they over-spent their income. Our family began to get into debt. The roof of our house leaked and had many holes, so when the rains came my house was flooded.

In 1998, we met some Christians and my family was converted. One day my parents met the directors of Care for Cambodia who agreed to employ them. They also agreed to sponsor the education of my siblings and me. It was a great blessing and now gradually my family’s condition of living is getting better. There have been difficult times since then. For example, at one time our house was burnt down and my family lost everything. Sometimes we had no money for food. For my siblings and me, it was very difficult. Often our health suffered. Many times I had nose bleeds. I do not want children in Cambodia to suffer like we have. I, however, am so thankful that Care for Cambodia continued to help us throughout this time.

In 2011, I completed grade 12 in high school. I finished high school in July 2011 and decided, that if God would provide the funds, I would continue to study in university. I want to become a doctor because I want to have the ability to help the Cambodian people. I know that Cambodia does not have a good health care system yet, and that many of the doctors and nurses do not care for the patients properly, especially the poor people. The poor do not have enough money to go to see doctors or to buy the medicines, so they are forgotten and not treated by anyone. The doctors and nurses do not meet the standard that their role demands or follow the code of ethics that they should. Doctors and nurses are people who should have a good heart and be generous. They hold other people’s lives in their hands and should behave morally, no matter whether the patient is rich or poor. I hope that one day I will become a fully qualified doctor with good morals and live with kindness and justice as my motivation. I have the commitment and determination to study very hard and listen to my teachers. I will work to be a good student in university and a good citizen. I want to be an example to the people in society and an inspiration to others. I do not want to be a disappointment to my parents or to the people who always supported and sponsored me through my education.

Bonnie has great expectations for herself, her family and her community. She is a shining light in a dark nation. She knows that none of this would have been possible if others had not invested in her. She is now seeking to honour their contribution by working hard and pursuing excellence. We are encouraging her to share her story with other young adults connected to our organisation.

In Care for Cambodia, we have great expectations for our students. We believe that the future of Cambodia lies in the hands of young people ‘such as these’. Their lives are testimony to God’s redeeming, restoring work. Greater things are to come for them and for others like them. It is, of course, a partnership and requires people throughout the world to buy into the vision and to be prepared to support them… but Care for Cambodia has great expectations for what God will do in this respect too!

Jill Hamill