by Leng Thy
O Kroch Methodist Church in Sala Visay Commune, Prasat Ballaink District, Kompong Thom Province is about 30 km from the town on the bumpy road to Preah Vihear. The church was established during 1996, with about 12 people, through the evangelism of a staff of World Vision, an international Christian organization that has been working in this area doing community development projects. Under the leadership of a local pastor called Kun Koun, in 2001, the church affiliated with Methodist Mission in Cambodia (MMC).
With the aim of responding to the physical needs of poor local congregations, the church partnered with CHAD program of MMC in 2005 to start a cow raising project by providing support in terms of finance and technical know-how on how to form groups, implement projects, and monitor activities. So far the results have been good, evidenced by the cooperation and willingness of members in working together. The group has started with 12 people and so far is making outstanding progress. The number of cows for instance has increased from 3 at the beginning to 9 at the moment with 3 new calves ready to be passed on to new recipients.
Pastor Kun Koun says that the experience he gained from the cow raising group provides a wider perspective on how to effectively reach out to community people. He said that the faithfulness, encouragement, submission, and support amongst members contributes to accountability and stewardship, resulting in a strong and healthy group. This healthy group environment has attracted new members from the neighborhood. The new members have helped the group to resolve the problem of passing-on the gift by exchanging the male calves for female. The Pastor also mentioned that in the village there are two cow raising groups; one was organized within the church congregation by CHAD program and another one by World Vision for poor people within the community. Amazingly according to him, while both cow raising groups started almost at the same time, the number of cows within the CHAD-church initiated group have multiplied more (3 to 9) than the number of cows (10 to 15) in the group established by World Vision. This significant difference in the outcomes has led villagers to question why the church cow raising project has produced more cows than the community cow raising project. The pastor, who is also the village leader acknowledged that group’s attitude and performance help not only to meet his congregation needs but also give him ways in which he can reach out to more people to understand about God and believe Him.
For example, Mrs. Sok Em, a group member who was not believer when she joined the church cow raising group became a very active member of the church through the day-to-day interaction of working together with Christians in the group. During household visits and group meetings conducted every three months, she encourages other members to take care of their cows and to be good stewards. Another example is Mrs. Peuo Earn who is also a village development committee (VDC) member of their village. She always shares with people during village meetings how church members care and support one another to create a united community. Likewise, the pastor firmly says that in reaching out to the community the acts of mercy carried out by church and group members has shown God’s love and have been more effective than evangelizing. This is proven by the increase in the number of church members from 35 to 42 people last year.