The Cambodia Team Today
The current Cambodia team seeks to express the Reign of God through two amazing ministries.
A Kingdom-Injection of Love: Therapy Training Loving Care
After the Him family moved into their Kampot home, their new neighbors were amazed at how they banded together for daily physical therapy and a loving home environment for their two disabled children. Soon neighbors came asking to join in, as they too have children with disabilities.
Overwhelmed by unexpected need, Jennifer and Heap began Therapy Training Loving Care (TTLC) as a direct response to their neighbors' need for support. Today sixteen children with varying levels of ability and disability come to TTLC for intensive physical therapy and a loving, restorative environment. For many families, simply trying to survive, caring for disabled family members is a great burden. Few have the time, resources or skills to do so.
Initially Jennifer and Heap refused to take the burden on themselves, only taking on families who were willing to send at least one family member to partner in the physical therapy sessions, building skills in each family and ensuring that the child, previously neglected, gets a wonderful Kingdom-injection of love and direct physical contact with mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers nephews and nieces, uncles and aunties. Today TTLC now employs several staff to work with the children and some families pay for their children to come while they work.
Community-based Care for those living with HIV-AIDS
The Sunrise project in Kampong Cham began ten years ago as a response to the high number of people dying from opportunistic infections due to HIV/AIDS before ARV drugs were readily available. Since then it has grown into a hospice/rehabilitation center for people living with AIDS and other life-threatening diseases, a home-based care program, a volunteer program, and training in peace-building and conflict resolution skills. They work with families and individuals in the local prison, hospital, local orphanage and schools. Sunrise is run completely by Khmer staff.
Team History: From Inner-city US to Cambodia
The original InnerCHANGE Cambodia team members received their first taste of Cambodian language and culture in the late 1980s while living in and ministering among an impoverished Cambodian immigrant / refugee community on Minnie Street in Santa Ana, California. At that time, Minnie Street was a tough place, with multiple gangs, prostitution, drugs, and crippling poverty infesting the street. By the early 1990s many of the Cambodian neighbors began to experience an economic uplift as their children graduated from school and began to work. As more income flowed, they began moving away from the neighborhood in search of safer and larger places to live. The team was faced with a decision: continue its presence among the dwindling Cambodian population on Minnie Street or move to another site. As these changes played out on Minnie Street, peace began stabilizing in Cambodia for the first time in a generation. Wracked by decades of civil war, culminating in the murderous regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, the various combatants finally agreed to a peace process in 1989. The UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) took control of the country from 1991-93 and foreign access to Cambodia was allowed. Responding to this opportunity, many InnerCHANGE members, ministering among Cambodians in Santa Ana, felt called to relocate in Cambodia. Thus, by fall 1994 the InnerCHANGE Cambodia team was birthed in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia.
Since then, the team faces its share of challenges and set-backs with much of their unrealistic idealism and naiveté being polished away. Sicknesses, military coup and unrest, wrestling with inadequate responses to the myriad needs, and the corruption endemic to Cambodia have all been struggles we all still learning to navigate. Being a team isn't always easy. We have bruised others and been bruised ourselves. However, we have also been tremendously blessed by individual spiritual growth and as an increasingly healthy community of InnerCHANGE missionaries. We've learned how to better love and encourage each other. We've learned how to laugh at ourselves and to cry with those we have the privilege of serving. We’ve learned to better recognize God’s fingerprints on our neighbors’ lives. And we persist in serving, learning, and growing in a context of poverty in its many forms.
Other ministry initiatives from the Cambodia team include:
- supporting the Shining Light wholistic ministry training program for rural pastors
- story-telling to enrich people's lives with Scripture stories
- supporting community activists with active nonviolence training and listening workshops
- coming alongside key church leaders in their regular travels around the Cambodian country-side
- ministering to neighbors in the Boueng Tra Bek neihborhood, a small and poor garment factory neighborhood in Phnom Penh
- and many more