Capital: Phnom Penh
Population: 14.5 million (2012)
Official language: Khmer
Major religion: Buddhism
IFES movement: Cambodia Fellowship of Evangelical Students (FES Cambodia)/Somphoan Metreipheap Niset Krisborisath (S.N.K/Sonoko) Kampuchea
Cambodia is a country whose people have suffered greatly for many years, both from foreign attack and civil war. Much of the country lives in poverty and 60% are subsistence farmers. However, a greater degree of political stability since 2000 onwards has led to an increase in tourism and economic growth in recent years.
Christianity is also on the increase in Cambodia. However to be a Christian is not easy; Buddhism is a fundamental part of the Cambodian identity. One of the biggest challenges for Christians in Cambodia is to maintain a link to their roots so others can see their witness, yet without compromising the gospel.
- 22 public and about 20 private tertiary institutions, 6 of which have groups
- 3 full-time local staff workers, several graduate volunteers, 4 missionaries
- graduate ministry is being developed
- largest group has 20-30 students, the smallest 2-5 members
FES Cambodia is still at a pioneering stage. The leaders are encouraged to see students who have been discipled return to their campuses to initiate prayer groups, and lead evangelistic and discipleship small groups. There is a real desire to see an indigenous-led movement and there are exciting signs of this coming about, including two graduates committing themselves as staff workers for two years, one recent graduate committing herself for one year and another one being trained. The movement is also striving to be financially self-supporting.
Religious activities in large group settings are not allowed on campus so they take place in the nearby student centre. However, informal and small-group meetings can still be held on campuses.
View from the inside
Lina Chhen and Dananuth are local staff workers for FES/Sonoko. They are glad to be part of the history of the early days of FES/Sonoko. For them, FES/Sonoko is a ministry which should be led by Khmer and done so in God’s truth and in ways appropriate with Khmer culture. They said, “Praise the Lord, His love is beyond the darkest of our history. It penetrates amazingly and brings light in our country.’
They have been inspired by Isaiah 55:11, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it”.
- for more Cambodian students and graduates to ‘own’ their movement and take on leadership responsibility;
- for local students to disciple their fellow students;
- for the ministry to be self-governed and self-supporting.