Article | Missions magazine

God's Work in Cambodia: Killing Fields Become Living Fields

May 18, 2022
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By Insun & Youmi Park

I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.’” (Isaiah 46:9–10). As these verses in Isaiah indicate, God is at work even when we are unaware. Even in the most challenging circumstances, we can still rest in the knowledge that God is on His throne and, in His faithfulness, He continues to accomplish what He has purposed from the foundation of the world. It is our great joy to share with you how God is at work—in our lives and in the living harvest field of Cambodia. (1)

God at work in the past
We are the product of the faithful labor of God’s servants who went before us. Foreign missionaries first brought the Gospel to Korea more than a century ago. Our generation grew up hearing about British missionary Edwin Arthur James, who came to Korea in 1962 when people were living in devastation and poverty following the Korean War. God greatly used him to bring many souls to Christ and to disciple believers.

James was instrumental in starting the Noryangjin assembly, from which many full-time workers, including Youmi’s parents, were sent. Her parents answered God’s call and gave their lives to His service. Youmi’s father started out serving as a Sunday school teacher and, then, became an elder and full-time worker. He planted a new assembly and moved to Cambodia as a missionary in 1994.

At that time, only a few families were commended to foreign missions from the Korean assemblies. Now, more than 37 missionary families in 19 countries are faithfully making Christ known. Praise God for using Korea, which once was full of darkness, to proclaim the Gospel and carry out the Great Commission.

God at work in our lives
Youmi went to Cambodia with her parents as a missionary kid. It wasn’t her choice, but God had special plans for her. She grew to love Him more and desired to give her life for His service, as her parents had done. She developed a personal relationship with her Savior and became an integral part of her parents’ ministry as a Sunday school teacher and a translator. In 2008, after completing her university education in the United States, she was commended to serve as a missionary in Cambodia.

The son of hardworking parents, Insun was born and raised in Korea. His mother and sister came to know the Lord first. As a teenager, Insun started to go to church. While he was at university, he spent a year as an exchange student in Hungary, where he met God. Insun had the opportunity to travel to more than 20 countries, and God opened his eyes to see the great spiritual need of souls around the world. Although Insun looked forward to a promising career in semiconductor engineering in Korea, he was willing and ready to go anywhere the Master called him to serve.

In God’s perfect timing and orchestration, we met, and with a common desire to make Christ known, we married in 2010 and started serving together in Cambodia. God has blessed us with four children: Grace (10), Joanna (8), Joshua (7), and David (3). The following verses, which brought us together, still serve as our confession: “According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:20–21)

God at work in His harvest field
In our first decade of ministry, we served with Sangkhim Canaan School, a mission school that Singaporean believers founded to reach the Buddhist community through quality education in Kampong Chhnang. Youmi served as a teacher and administrator until our children were born, and Insun began serving in a leadership position.

God shaped and molded us through our marriage, ministry, and life as we lived cross-culturally. Insun became the country director for the Emmaus ministry in Cambodia and discovered that this was his passion: helping Cambodian believers grow spiritually through teaching and by producing resources to reach succeeding generations.

God at work in His church
Desiring to focus on literature ministry, we prayed about relocating to Phnom Penh at the end of 2017. Around that time, our friend and fellow missionary Myung Sub Kim (CMML) unexpectedly went to be with the Lord in a tragic accident. Church leaders in Korea asked us to consider stepping in at Prek Takov Church, which Myung Sub had started and, now, was left without a shepherd. In His faithfulness, God worked in our hearts through His Word and circumstances, and we answered and obeyed His call.

Prek Takov Church is located across the Mekong River, a ferry ride away from Phnom Penh. Many people there are living in darkness and are mostly unreached. Although young people are more open to hearing the Gospel, they face more distractions and worldly lures than ever. From the beginning, we have been heavily involved in children’s ministry. This work was also Myung Sub’s passion; many children joined weekly Bible clubs and Sunday school to hear the Gospel.

Contrary to what we had anticipated, we faced many challenges. After sorting through some heartbreaking issues, the church was left with only a few members. We are thankful for and encouraged by the remaining little flock, young in faith yet eager to know and follow their great Shepherd.

God at work through His Word
Besides church ministry, we also devote our time to translating Emmaus correspondence courses for personal and small group Bible studies. Currently, four courses are available in Khmer, and many more drafts are ready to be edited. The courses are carefully chosen and specific to the Cambodian church’s needs.

We have also been translating children’s Bibletime lessons from Bible Educational Services (BES). In a country where almost half the population is under 20 years old, there is a great need for age-appropriate resources that can help young people understand God and His Word at a crucial time in their lives. When the Bibletime lessons are published, they will be a blessing and a help to many Cambodian Christians and their families.

Considering the extensive workload, our literature ministry team is small. We need more workers to speed up the process of producing these resources. We are praying that God will send us more faithful men and women who are equipped with the skills and passion to help people grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

God at work in the COVID-19 pandemic
As in other countries, Cambodian schools have been closed for a long time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Large gatherings are banned, and people are suffering due to job loss and the economic crisis. To continue spreading the Gospel during these challenging times, we are producing the book and movie of King of Glory, by Paul Bramsen (Missionary Prayer Handbook Day 27), which presents God’s plan of salvation. We aim to finish the movie first and make it available on the internet since Cambodians now have access, even in the most remote areas.

As part of the Emmaus ministry, we typically have Bible seminars a couple of times per year. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we organized online Bible seminars for youths, young adults, and married couples. Topics included biblical manhood and womanhood and God-honoring relationships and marriages. We were happy to see many people from different churches and denominations joining, eager to learn what the Bible has to say about these important matters.

God at work through prayers
The first Protestant missionary came to Cambodia in the 1920s. Despite religious freedom and tireless efforts in evangelism and aid work, Christians still make up less than 1 percent of the population. The spiritual darkness is still very real. Please pray for Cambodia. Pray that God will continue to turn what were killing fields into living fields. 

PRAYER REQUESTS:
• Pray that Cambodian Christians will remain faithful, without compromise in the face of persecution and prejudice.

• Pray that Cambodian church leaders will be grounded in the Word and gain biblical discernment.

• Pray that Prek Takov Church and others around Cambodia will grow as bodies of Christ and be salt and light in their communities.

• Pray that God will give our team wisdom while translating Emmaus correspondence courses, BES Bibletime lessons, and other Christian literature.

• Pray that God will send us more helpers.

• Pray for safety, spiritual vitality, and endurance since the work is difficult and takes years to see any genuine fruit.

• Pray that God will protect Cambodia during the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Insun and Youmi Park serve in Cambodia.

(1) Historically, Cambodia has been associated with “killing fields,” where the Communist regime brutally massacred and buried more than one million people during its 1975–1979 rule. Now, the Parks see God’s hand in turning the nation into a “living field.”

Originally published in Missions magazine, May 2022. For more content, sign up for a free subscription (US) to Missions at CMML.us/magazine/subscribe.