By Sarah Holmes of CMS UK
AsiaCMS’s goal to see local mission leaders rise up in their own countries and reach their own people with the gospel is gathering pace with an exciting joint training venture just completed in Cambodia.
AsiaCMS teamed up with Chhinho Saing, founder and director of Shalom Mission Cambodia (SMC), and held a Missional Leadership Training in May 2016. Together with Chhinho, who is also AsiaCMS’s new co-mission partner, AsiaCMS executive director Dr Tan Kang San and AsiaCMS training director Loun Ling Tan taught at the training sessions held at SMC’s School of Ministries in Phnom Penh.
There were two separate training sessions — one on ‘Mission of the church in Asia – contemporary challenges and issues’ and the other on ‘Missional leadership in a Buddhist context’. About 25 pastors and church leaders from SMC churches came for the first course and an additional 20 from different organisations and churches for the second.
Chhinho explained: “Cambodia is 95 per cent Buddhist and most of us Christians are converts from Buddhist backgrounds, but before the course we had little real understanding about Buddhism and even less about the best approaches to Buddhists with the gospel.” In addition, the churches in Cambodia are young – both in history and faith and are crying out for training.
Chhinho’s ministry comprises three departments: church planting, leadership training and community development. He oversees 32 churches planted by SMC in nine provinces throughout Cambodia. His vision is “to plant a church in every province in Cambodia, and develop true disciples of Jesus Christ who will transform their communities holistically”.
Loun Ling said: “Chhinho came for Asia Gateway Training in Malaysia in 2015, with the intention of strengthening the School of Ministries for leadership training run by SMC when he returned. And that was exactly what happened.”
Asia Gateway Training is an intensive programme laying down a firm foundation in intercultural learning for mission – combining practical experience with theological reflection. It is endorsed and sponsored by two Malaysian churches (Anglican Diocese of West Malaysia and Methodist Church of Malaysia), Malaysia Theological Seminary and five mission agencies: AsiaCMS, InterServe, OM, OMF, and SIM East Asia.
Chhinho summed up: “Dr Kang San and Loun Ling gave us space for reflection and group work which enabled us to think about our real life experiences, difficulties and possible solutions, which we had never done before. Now we are much more confident about raising spiritual issues with our fellow Cambodians and explaining how they can know Jesus as their Saviour.
“But the best of all we loved the passion of Dr Kang San and Loun Ling to see local leaders rise up here, in our own country to reach our own people with the gospel. Now we want to replicate this kind of mission to other leaders in every province throughout Cambodia.”