Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Rice Bank Group Making Known God's Kingdom

by Leng Thy
In the minority-Christian country of Cambodia, many local churches simply long for growth, but do not want to do any work that requires them to sacrifice even a little of the assets that they have. This story of an outstanding project group, told by its leader, provides an idea of how powerful it is to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

A rice bank group at Raksmey church located in a north-east province of Cambodia is one of the CHAD project groups that has been highly effective in sharing the good news of God’s Kingdom through its powerful strategy of ministering to and among the suffering.

“Everyone in my church recognizes their Christian role, actively and sacrificially caring for people, no matter who they are” said Mr. Chok Choung, the 50 year-old Lay Leader, and chair of the Community Development Committee at the local Raksmey church.

Sitting on a pile of firewood under the shade tree in front of his house, this faithful leader shared a very exciting story of the rice bank project initiated by his church and community members. A smiling face expressed his confidence; full of hope and delight Mr. Chok Choung let us know that this rice bank project was initially formed in March 2008 in response to the need of poor families who suffered from food shortages during the rainy season and who paid high interest rates to the market rice lenders. He stated that at the beginning there were only 19 people interested. The project received an initial grant of $750 from CHAD to buy 3000 kg of rice. He said what helped them to grow was the principle of learning together from the Bible. This kept them faithful and encouraged them to apply what they had learned. As a result of this endeavor, each member goes out to community to imitate Jesus, doing what he did, using both word and deed. This is a change from their previous activities of using only words in their outreach approach. Group members, for example, share sacrificially from the little resources they have to poor families when they see them hungry and unable to afford to feed themselves.

He added another example of how the rice bank group members have declared God’s Kingdom. They took care of seven families whose houses had recently burned. The fire damaged everything. Their few possessions were destroyed and they were left with no food, no shelter, and no clothes or other necessities. Seeing this, the rice bank members compassionately took 500 kg of rice from the store and collected among the members another 40,000 Riel ($10.00). They did all of this to help the victims even though they are not their immediate neighbors or fellow Christians, but live in another village a ways from Raksmey.

A few days later, Mr. Chok Choung continued, a letter from a commune (local government) office where the fire had happened came to the rice bank group. He took it out and read. It was a letter from the victims to say thank you gratefully for the immediate response to those in need. They appreciated the generous support and admitted that Christians are really good. Knowing that they were interested in understanding more about God, the group visited them and shared the gospel. Since then, a preaching point has been formed there. He emphasized that this shows how powerful it is when the church carries out its task by following what Jesus did and what he continues to do through us, using both word and deed.

Surely, since the group continues to be faithful and committed to work together, God blesses them to experience explosive growth. The amount of rice, during this three-year period, for example, has increased from 3000 kg at the beginning up to 6591 kg at this moment. As the group has been foreshadowing what God’s Kingdom would be like, there is a constant influx of people who want to join the group. Right now, there are five more non-Christian families requesting to be included in the rice bank group. “These are ways that our church is reaching out to people; we want to glorify God,” said Mr. Chok Choung, smiling.

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