Empowering Emerging Leaders in Cambodia and SE Asia
Every Monday we put some rectangular tables together for “Deep Leadership Fellowship.” This is for a group of young Cambodian leaders and a few missionaries who come away in the middle of busy schedule for fellowship and learning. I (Gil) have initiated this new gathering together with a facilitating team who also saw the need for young leaders to continue grow deeper in their relationship with God and with each other. I invited a number of leaders who I’ve been personally mentoring to join for their spiritual and professional growth as Christian leaders as well as building trust with each other. Some leaders have experienced disappointment, discouragement or disillusionment in life or ministry.
We start with simple lunch together. After that, one of the facilitating team shares a short presentation on a topic that he/she is passionate about and is relevant to Cambodian leaders. Topics include dealing with emotional pain, spiritual discernment, boundaries for healthy relationship, social justice and conflict resolution. It really is a “round table” for peer learning. We are divided into small groups for sharing about the presentation and praying together. There is a simple rhythm each week. We are hoping to build a community of leaders with holistic kingdom perspective and healthy relationships. Please pray for this initiative to continue encouraging young leaders for their personal growth and to be a safe place to explore what we can do together for His kingdom.
I (Joyce) love that Reformed theology embraces the big story of scripture, but it can be difficult to see in our everyday lives. I want to cling to the hope of redemption and restoration, but sometimes it just seems abstract. This is true in a context where the history of genocide and the trauma of civil war permeate everything.
This month Gil and I hosted Joel and Patty Hogan leading “Contemplative Companions” a cohort (14 people) for spiritual formation and direction that will be convening 4 more times in this year. We have diverse group which includes men and women, missionaries and nationals, mission leaders and young adults.
In this initial retreat, we were invited to share and listen--really listen--to each other’s stories. Something happened. I felt that there was a mysterious connecting of these narratives to the great work of God for redemption and restoration. We were bearing witness to God’s sacred work.
All were difficult stories, with great suffering and sadness. But I found myself being drawn to hope in the continuing redemptive work of God in a way that knowing the big story alone never quite did. The experience drew us together too. I heard the Cambodian stories in a new way—I felt connected to them because we are part of the same story.
Contemplative Companions is helping participants go deeper with Christ and equipping us help others do the same. Spiritual growth is a call on our lives. Without growing, the impact of the church here could be limited or hampered. Pray for this cohort as we journey through the year together.
Value of Vision Trip
We enjoy hosting occasional visitors coming to Cambodia. We especially welcome vision- or learning-type visits. In February, I (Gil) hosted a group of visitors who came from Canada, Australia and USA for a few days. They came to explore potential partnership and support for theological education in Cambodia. Their purpose was clear and united although representing three different organizations--reSource Leadership International, Overseas Council Australia and Global Scholars. Although it was a rather short visit, I enjoyed getting to know them and showing around.
I introduced the group to two main theological schools. We met with the leaders of schools and heard about their needs. I was struck again by the challenges facing theological education in Cambodia especially with shortage of qualified Cambodian educators.
I’m not quite sure where the group’s visit will lead, but I believe their perspective on situation was broadened and understanding of the context got deeper. They are more well-informed about how to support theological education here. That’s one of the values of vision trip: helping us broaden our perspective on the field situation and deepen our understanding of the local context. As a result, a new mission vision can emerge.
At the end of May, we plan to host the first vision trip of local church leaders of Christian Reformed Church in North America to Cambodia. And a local CRC congregation may send a team for short-term mission in July as well. We enjoy hosting visitors, whether individuals or as a group. Please let us know if you would be interested to come visit us in whatever way. You are welcome.
Earlier in February, I (Joyce) with my colleague for East Asia, hosted our Resonate Asia joint retreat in Phuket, Thailand. This is an annual spiritual retreat for Resonate career and partner missionaries. It was challenging for everyone to make time in busy schedules. There were flight challenges and delays. It was a battle to get through immigration and from the airport to the hotel. It was a lot of work on the part of those of us who organized it. But I think the 38 attendees unanimously enjoyed our time together.
Many of us serve as the only Resonate missionaries in our country or area. None of us are part of a large team. This event allows us precious time with colleagues. We had an amazing speaker, Ruth Boven, from LaGrave CRC Grand Rapids, who shared on “Finding God in the Ordinary.” It is wonderful to be fed “rich food” as she provided as, for some of us, that quality of fare is not readily available in our contexts where the church is young and believers isolated.
As organizers, we intentionally made margins in this retreat. We made space for people to share meals or spend time together around structured programing. We could walk to the beach together and enjoy the sea and sky. After it all, I felt that something had happened. It wasn’t just an event, but a rich fellowship. God did a work among us that is continuing forward. Gil had formed a messenger group to communicate logistics during the retreat. But the group has become a continuing forum in which our 2 regional teams share—family events, important ministry, passages and transitions of our lives as well.
Joyce introducing Mary as the child care helper for the retreat
Pray with us for
Finalizing budget and plan for the next fiscal year. It is not an administrative process but seeking God’s will and there are many factors over the region.
Contemplative Companions and Joel and Patti Hogan who need to travel many miles this year to lead the cohort in Cambodia and Philippines
The next steps for Deep Leadership Fellowship and another weekly gathering of young people for worship and discipleship
Resonate’s Glocal Summit in Los Angeles in April to which Gil would make a short trip as one of the workshop speakers
Smooth leadership transition for World Renew Cambodia, our sister organization, as current leader Kathleen Lauder would retire and return to Canada in April
Planning for the Network Nourishment Retreat for Global Mission Leaders of S/SE Asian context that we will host in Cambodia in early May
Planning for the vision trip of local CRCNA leaders in May/June
Family needs, especially our three children (David and Isaac to thrive in college life and Mary to finish high school Jr. and Sr. years well)