THE Singapore delegation that witnessed the ordination of the10 Cambodian pastors and the mass baptism of 98 Cambodians also travelled several hundred kilometres to visit two village churches and the COSI Children’s Village run by the Methodist Missions Society.
The first stop was at the Prek Ormpel Methodist Church in Kondal province. It is a vibrant and fast-growing church.
As soon as we alighted from a van, some 150 church members welcomed us with a round of applause and songs. We were late, and they had been waiting for well over an hour. Yet, the warmth was there; there was no hint of impatience. There is more than a lesson to be learnt here.
As soon as we were assembled in the church, a group of Sunday School children went up to the front and sang two songs to welcome us. They were followed by a group of women who rendered an item.
We reciprocated with the singing of “Thank you, Thank you, Jesus” in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil, to the delight of the congregation.
Pastor Bun Somnang, 34, and his wife Malin were all smiles as they greeted us.
Speaking through an interpreter, Mr Khat-Sa Noeurn, the 23-year-old Youth Ministry leader, the pastor said: “We are very happy to receive all of you from Singapore. We share the joy and love of Jesus Christ. You are most welcome here.”
The simple wooden church is adjacent to the home of Mr Nuon Pich, 59, who lives with his wife and six children. A farmer, he built the church for the village two years ago.
When he and his wife were introduced, they, too, greeted us warmly. And when asked to pose for a photograph in front of their house, they were at first shy and stood apart, but through the encouragement of church members, they stood side by side. This led to an applause and a roar of approval.
The adults mingled freely and chatted with one another, their faces lit up by smiles. The children were playful, catching one another or running after a chicken or a dog. Everyone was happy. It was a scene of kampong togetherness. Such is the simple way of life they lead.
Pastor Bun Somnang said that the church did not have many worshippers when it was opened two years ago, but now it has about 250 members. Giving praise to God, he said: “Every Sunday, we have about 200 members attending the 8-10 am worship service and another 50 members coming for the 2-3 pm service.
“This is the work of the Lord,” he said simply, with that infectious smile.