by Debbie Choy, Field Director of Pleroma Missions in Cambodia
An important milestone for me – this is the year that I have served in Cambodia for 10 years. The International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, political, and cultural achievements of women. However, in Cambodia, that day also promotes and enhances women’s development and opportunities regardless of the hindering of society’s economic, social, and cultural issues.
During these past 10 years, there are two stories of the local co-workers that remind me of how grateful and fulfilled I am with this ministry:
I witnessed Kimsung, a social worker who joined early on, and her loyalty to her ministry in more than ten years of service. Due to the needs of the particular social service in this ministry, she learned counseling skills and also completed the Master of Social Work program. During these years, she was humble to serve and is now the director of our Pleroma Home for Girls. I deeply experienced how God built up a local co-worker through the Fellowship in Christ Fellowship (FiCF) ministry.
The other one is Philip, who is one of the board members of “Pleroma School for Girls”. Twenty years ago, he was just an ordinary young man who worked hard to fulfill his dream to become a teacher. I witnessed how he finished college, completed a master’s degree, and has earned a Doctor of Education degree recently. Yet, he is still humbly serving in Cambodia and is an experienced lecturer of the “HRDI.” He also spends time serving on our school board and sends his daughter to our Pleroma School for Girls.
I have experienced many hinderings and challenges in the past 10 years of ministry such as going through the work to find suitable co-workers to become our directors, hiring co-workers on a limited budget, figuring out ministry expenditures, participating in endless changes in the government legal systems and policies. However, in the end, I am grateful for having trusted co-workers walking with us and that we have not experienced financial problems or lack of supplies. When we walk boldly on the path of God’s ministry to understand and care for the girls we serve, God will comfort us and prepare everything for us. In all difficulties, God is our provider.
In my ministries, I need to make many decisions such as ministry development, setting up policies, etc. I am not experienced in these areas and I lack the confidence to do so, but God shows me His richness in my weakness. When I let God expand myself and walk alongside with me, I may feel pain and the incapability of accomplishing my duties but when the goal is clear with the mindset that “I don’t want to do but must do”, God is always my helper to support me. This process is surely painful because God has to break me to rebuild me; He encourages and comforts me when I am weak.
I received much over these 10 years – not in accomplishments or achievements – but in knowing God more through these ministries, understanding more of His heart, and seeing how much He loves the girls and women we minister to and all of us. He works through us to educate, counsel, and raise up these abused and ill-treated girls and women. They often experience various social injustice problems in Cambodian society such as child marriage, child labor, and sexual assault. In the past 10 years, we have built the social, cultural, educational, family, and economic values of local women. They gained self-esteem and self-respect, space to explore, and loosened their hard feelings. In the future, we hope that local people will carry on these missions and bring changes to the Cambodian society.