EQUALLY hospitable to the Singapore delegation were Pastor Pon Navi, his wife and members of the Kirirom Methodist Church, a three-hour’s drive from Phnom Penh.
What started as a “family church” is now a flourishing church serving an entire village.
Again, we were more than an hour late, but our arrival was met with enthusiasm. It was as if the whole village was there to receive us.
Said Pastor Pon Navi: “We are very, very happy to see visitors. Our people are always happy to receive visitors, especially if they come from other countries.”
A group welcomed us with a song. And as at the Prek Ormpel Church, we reciprocated with the singing of “Thank you, Thank you, Jesus” in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Then, to the surprise and squeals of the children and women, we taught them how to sing the song with action.
To laughter from the hosts, the Rev Dr Vinson Samuel, President of Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference, told them that “we can’t sing in the Khmer language, but maybe next time, we will try and sing in Khmer”.
Pastor Pon Navi said he came to know the Lord in 1991 when he was in a refugee camp near the Cambodian-Thai border. He heard of Jesus through the Cambodian Mission and then got to know of the Methodist Church. “Now, I’m very happy serving the Methodist Church.”
After living for five years in the camp, he went back to Cambodia and, a year later, founded a church. “The church started as a family church,” he said. “My family just wanted to worship God.”
In 1999, he and his family moved to the village and the villagers started going to his church. This is the only church in the village. He said: “Today, we have about 60 members worshipping every Sunday. We are very grateful to God that we are able to grow from strength to strength, and we have a great desire to see the church grow even stronger.”