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