Why Cambodia?

We’re often asked, Why Cambodia? But not everyone means the same thing by it. For some, the question is Why Cambodia instead of Cameroon, Brazil, or any other so-called “mission field”? A few others have wondered why we would go to Cambodia when millions in our homeland are dying without Christ.

… instead of Africa?


Prior to our college years, both Bonnie Ruth and I had planned on ministering the gospel cross-culturally. Bonnie Ruth was heading toward orphanage work in Russia. I was thinking along the lines of Africa or South America. Then, in my final year of graduate coursework, a friend, Josh Jensen, invited me to join him that summer on a short visit to missionary J.D. Crowley in Cambodia. At that time, I had little interest in Asia as a potential place of ministry, but I had heard of J.D.’s linguistic work with an unreached people group and was very eager to meet him and to visit a least developed country. So in the summer of 2002, I set off with Josh and another friend, Brian Kane, on what I thought would be a typical short-term mission trip: I was ready to spend the better part of two weeks helping the missionaries with manual labor and ministry responsibilities. As it turned out, none of us lifted a finger. Instead, J.D. devoted nearly the entire time to us—sharing his philosophy of ministry, missions, and life; discussing the biblical patterns for these things; and exhorting us concerning our own growth in grace. At the time, it seemed to me that J.D. was making a huge sacrifice for us. But from my vantage point many years later, I realize that J.D. was simply investing: he sacrificed his work week and the opportunity for about 120 free man-hours. But in 2007, this time with families in tow, the three of us began to trickle back to Cambodia for long-term service: the Kanes arriving in 2007, the Farmers in 2011, and the Jensen