As a Christian organisation, facilitating tangible expressions of the Kingdom of God and fulfilling the Great Commission are always at the heart of what AOC does. Where possible AOC works with the rural Cambodian church as a vehicle for project implementation, which apart from showing God’s love to their neighbours, also helps them to build a good reputation with the community and creates a platform for sharing the gospel. Experience has shown that without the spiritual transformation of a community, sustainable physical transformation is nearly impossible to achieve. AOC works in Kandal, Prey Veng and Stung Treng provinces with rural church leaders and members, providing them with practical and theological training, opportunities for evangelism,
empowering women in small group ministry, as well as coordinating interdenominational strategy for restoring hope to their communities.
Although AOC has been supporting the local church since its inception, officially the Community Hope Development project has only been in existence since 2007 (previously known as Church Development and then Ministry Development). Because of a favourable relationship built with the local government, restrictions were lifted and the way was made open to work more proactively with faith-based groups. Over the past five years AOC has been instrumental in the development and growth of the local church in Kandal and Prey Veng provinces.
We work with a variety of local churches, bringing together different denominations to discuss issues, work out common goals and establish relationships so that they all work together in reaching out to those in need. In newer project areas, such as Stung Treng province, we work to bring the existing churches together to combine resources and personnel, and develop strategies for sharing the gospel to remote villages.
Church leaders are often illiterate farmers who have had minimal training or education. We provide basic theological and practical training contextualised to the needs and education level of the students. After training, these leaders have the tools and understanding necessary to effectively evangelise, plant and lead churches within the Cambodian context. We train dozens of new Cambodian leaders yearly.
In Cambodian culture, the man may be the head of the family but the woman is the heartbeat. AOC is actively providing Christian women with the skills, understanding and resources to be able to reach, support and encourage vulnerable women in their communities. Alongside this, the women are empowered to start cell groups and receive basic theological training to be more effective in making disciples.
Through this training program AOC works with Christian young people to build the church’s capacity to reach out to children in need. The goal of the Sunday school training is to equip Sunday school teachers to be able to successfully design and implement Sunday school groups for children in the church and community, to encourage and train kids in Christian values and basic life skills in a fun, safe setting.
We provide at-risk young people with soft skills training such as English and computer classes. Through this initiative, we are equipping teenagers with a greater chance of getting a job and breaking free of the poverty cycle. These classes are run by young Christian leaders, which gives them an opportunity to build relationships with local youth and share the gospel within an encouraging environment.
The dominant issue in rural Cambodia is poverty, and church leaders have to provide for their families even while they care for others. In partnership with the Livelihoods project, we provide leaders with training in basic business skills and loans to start small, mostly agricultural, businesses. By creating more efficient family businesses, the church planter is freed up a lot more to focus on meeting the needs of others.
Chan Thol lives in Kandal province, Lvea Em district, Tuk Kleang commune, Somroung village. She is married to Mr. Chea Chhoun, and they have six children. Chhoun is disabled from during the civil war in the 1970s and he cannot lift heavy things.
Before knowing Jesus Christ, Chan Thol was very mentally stressed because of her family’s poverty. She was most concerned for her children as she did not have enough food for them to eat or money to send them to school. Every day she worried about her family, and sometimes she was in such despair that she contemplated suicide, but whenever she thought about her children she could not go through with it.
Chan Thol has a sister in the same village who has been a believer since 2008 through AOC’s training. Her sister constantly shared the good news with her, but Chan Thol did not believe that anyone could help her. Eventually, through her sister’s persistence and prayer, Chan Thol accepted the Lord. Since 2010, she has been attending the CHD ladies cell group at Tuk Kleang village with other women in the village. In just three years, Chan Thol has become a leader in the ladies group and regularly teaches.
In an incredible turn-around, Chhoun has recently been able to start work again and provide enough money for the family’s food security. The family sees this as a miracle of God’s healing and provision. Chhoun has softened in his heart towards Jesus. He has been very impressed by his wife’s discipleship and this has helped him change his mind.
Through our connection, the ACTS project is also helping her kids to go to school and providing them with uniforms for the coming year. We also plan to support them in starting a small business in the future.
Today Chan Thol is full of hope and is sharing this hope with others around her.