Asian Christianity exemplified
“MY PRAYER is that missionaries will one day be sent from this country, and maybe even back to the United States and Europe.” These words of Bishop Dr Robert Solomon met with a resounding Amen from the congregation at the Ordination Service of the 3rd Annual Meeting of the Methodist Mission in Cambodia.
The meeting was held at the Cambodian Methodist Bible School (CMBS) on Aug 24 and 25. Bishop Dr Solomon was the presiding Bishop with Bishop Daniel Arichea from the Philippines representing the United Methodist Church (UMC), Bishop Kuey Chien-Hua from Taiwan representing the World Federation of Chinese Methodist Churches and Bishop Shin Kyung Ha representing the Korean Methodist Church. The bishops are all Asians and more than 90 per cent of the Methodist missionaries are Asians. Visitors and representatives from the supporting partner churches were present together with 27 missionaries and 66 Khmer delegates. Although the official languages were Khmer and English, there were simultaneous translations to Korean and Mandarin. Someone remarked that this is Pentecost again where all heard the message in their mother tongue!
The theme for this meeting was taken from Micah 6:8 – “What does the Lord Require?” When Bishop Arichae reflected on it, he shared that it is for us to be lights in this land that many more will hear of the salvation found in Jesus Christ.
At the meeting, a draft copy of the section on the Local Church of the Discipline of the Mission was also presented. And for the first time, the seven District Superintendents stood up to present the reports of their districts. These DSs were appointed only last year when the churches under the four partner churches in Cambodia came together as one Mission.
At the Ordination Service, the Rev Prak Vuthy and the Rev Chan Cheleav were ordained Elders and the Rev Yim Chheoung, the Rev Svay Youtheroath, the Rev Sok Cheang and the Rev Ham Kimly were ordained Deacons. Of the four Deacons, three are from the 1st class of graduates from CMBS. The Elders were presented stoles made in Cambodia while the Deacons were given collars hand-made in Sarawak.
The three Khmer Elders together with the four missionary DSs joined the bishops in laying hands on the heads of the Deacons. Truly, another symbol of the connectedness of Asian Christianity.
And history was again made when the District Superintendents read out the respective appointments of their Districts, totalling 166 appointments. After Bishop Dr Solomon adjourned the meeting to next year, the congregation responded with the age-old hymn of “Hold the Fort” And indeed we will, by His Grace.
The Rev Lenita Tiong is a faculty member of the Cambodian Methodist Bible School.