A Seed Which Grew
What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” Luke 13:18-19
We were in Phnom Penh over the weekend to dedicate the the new seven storey Church of Christ Our Peace (CCOP) and also to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Deanery of Cambodia.
Two other clergy were ordained with me in 1993. Revd Don Cormack served as the first Vicar of CCOP. He was the author of the popular book, The Killing Fields. Revd William Mok was eventually sent by Bishop Moses Tay (1996) to serve for many years there as Vicar of CCOP and later, as Dean of Cambodia. It was novel then for a Singaporean clergy to take this step, as it meant crossing culture and many years of language learning. This, Revd William took in good stride and I have always admired him for his tenacity in serving in such a challenging place.
I heard a lot about the work there but never actually visited it. I heard about the villa which our Diocese bought and invested in to house this fledgling work. I heard about the ministry difficulties there. Even then, we weren’t sure that this piece of property can be secured given the political uncertainties of the land. Property ownership functions differently in an emerging third world country and I can recall difficult discussions in Synods and committees.
As it turns out, the Lord is building His Church in Cambodia. A few more churches were planted in smaller towns and villages. The first Asian clergy who was ordained from one of our deaneries was Revd Tit Hieng in 1999. He grew up under the Khmer Rouge regime and came to Christ through the ministry of our first Anglican missionary, the Revd Don Comack. Today Revd Tit Hieng is the Vicar of the Rural Mission District where the majority of our Cambodian members are located. His vision is to develop these missionary districts into self-supporting Anglican parishes.
Eventually Canon Wong Tak Meng became the dean. A few missionaries from other Provinces (such as the Anglican Church in North America, ACNA) were also sent. In 2013, Revd Gregory Whitaker began his ministry as priest in charge of the English Service. The service grew and it is almost 300 on a good Sunday morning. Revd Jesse Blaine, who is fluent in Khmer, heads the Khmer Service which has grown to about 80 today. Revd Steven Seah was based there from 2017.
At the same time, our Cathedral has been very involved in Project Khmer H.O.P.E. This work has also grown and the details are found in the Mission booklet which will be handed out this month.I
was listening to Mr Andrew Tay’s sermon online. He was speaking on Onesimus from the book of Philemon and his challenge to us is to be more involved in prisons work. This is another opportunity to be involved in sharing the love of Christ.