Rev. Sok Nora is a pastor of a local church called Srei Sompong in Kompong Speu district, in the south-western part of Cambodia. In 2010, he was appointed to be a Social Concern Committee member as a representative of his district. Last month CHAD invited him on an exposure visit to see projects of Food For Hungry, a Christian NGO based in Along Veng, in the north-western part of Cambodia.
While traveling for hours together to reach Along Ven, Rev. Sok Nora and I had a good chance to chat, sharing experiences and feelings. In the discussion he admitted that for the first 6 years before he joined the Social Concerns Committee, he hadn’t really understood anything about the CHAD program. In 2005, his church received $900 from CHAD for a cow-raising group. That money had been misused because he didn’t spend all money to buy cows, but instead he kept some to buy loud speakers for his church. At that time he disliked the CHAD team and was not happy to work with them because he said “the CHAD staff seemed to be excessively inquisitive when they visited the project group at my church.” He viewed CHAD as a program that only emphasized on physical needs not the spiritual ones. As a pastor he wondered why he needed to spend so much time from his pastoral job in the meetings and trainings of this program.
Through his involvement with the Social Concerns Committee, with CHAD project implementation, and with CHAD team on monitoring and follow-up visits to project groups, Rev. Sok Nora learned a lot and began to understand about the CHAD program. He said “I’ve just realized that CHAD is a very useful program within Methodist Church in Cambodia. Through its projects and training, it plays a vital role in facilitating the churches to have a fresh look on its role and to keep it completely in God intention of God’s Kingdom expansion.” He found that through CHAD development project, he has an easier time to share the gospel than he previously did, when he understood evangelism only as sharing words, not as deed also.
Over these years Rev. Sok Nora has opened his heart for God to transform him. Right now he is becoming more active in carrying out his role as pastor as well as a Social Concerns Committee member. As a pastor he empowers his congregation to take initiative in establishing and implementing development project according to their needs. He said, “A sense of ownership is constantly in my mind. I fulfill my duties without waiting for any instruction from somebody else. That sense motivates me to work tirelessly.” Because of that motivation, in his role with the Social Concerns Committee he spends a lot of his time and energy to work with various levels of people.
At the church level he goes round within his district to visit them, train them how to manage resources with sound stewardship and accountability, and also to know how keep project records. As a consequence, the project groups can collect rice repayment on their own and have formed three saving groups without pushing from CHAD.
During the district meeting for pastors, Rev. Sok Nora, shares reports about CHAD projects, and he encourage the pastors to embrace a wholistic church ministries which included as well the development works, not focusing only on the spiritual realm.
For forming networking links he is highly courageous to communicate with various institutions. He visited to the Provincial Department of Information for broadcasting the church efforts in helping drought affected poor families last year, and again for the flood relief efforts. He also visited to the Provincial Department of Agriculture where he eventually received agricultural teaching materials to distribute to the churches. Since he has proved his high ability through his action of building good relationship with government, the other Christian denominations trust him, and nominated him as chairman of the inter-denominational council within his district.
In addition to the impacts mentioned earlier, Rev. Sok Nora has even influenced his friend whose position is in a high rank of government. He shared with me that he convinced him to be fair and honest and to humbly respect those he leads. That man listened to and respected Rev. Sok Nora for this. As needed, he sometime comes to Rev. Sok Nora’s house for advice.
“Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established” ~ Proverbs 6:3