A story about Holistic Development in Takeo Province Cambodia.
Many people when they hear the term Church planting, immediately think about church buildings and Sunday services. But nothing could be further from the truth when we are talking about metamorphic church planters. Those that embrace the metamorphic way are focussed on holistic development – in other words, developing the whole community regardless of religious, ethnic or social background. The Story of Pastor Kin Khon and his wife Sin Theng from Takeo Province Cambodia is one of incredible transformation and holistic development. Both Khon and Theng were bought up as traditional Buddhists and became Christians when their son Surin shared the gospel with them not long after the Pol Pot regime was overthrown.
During the 1980’s all of Khon and Theng’s children began to follow Christ and today most of them are in ministry and committed to various expressions of holistic development. In the early 1990’s Khon planted a church in Takeo province Cambodia and as a family they began to outreach into the community. One of Khon’s challenges was the limitations of the church model that he had experienced. He knew he wanted to initiate holistic development, but how do you do this when you haven’t actually seen it in action before. His passion for his people and his community led him to accepting an invitation to come to Phnom Penh and attend the metamorphic community transformation program in 2003. He was invited by his son Surin who could see that his father would be equipped to fulfill what he had always dreamed of. What Kun discovered was that if he re-defined what church was and also what it existed to achieve, he could indeed create a holistic development focus in his community and eventually across his whole province.
Kun learnt important principles about how to build trust, how to engage the community in partnership and how to identify community challenges in consultation with village leaders. He then developed a plan to solve the challenges, no matter what they were.
As Kun meditated on the passage in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope”, it became clear to him what could be achieved. He now knew that God thought about his community, and not only that He had a plan for it. The plan was one of peace, of hope and for his community to have a great future. So, with this in mind Kun and Theng set about bringing transformation to Takeo province through holistic development.
The evidence of this newfound focus is obvious to everyone in Takeo today as 18 years later, water born disease is down miraculously with thousands of lives having been saved. As a result of clean water programs not only are lives being saved but also people are more productive. Clean water means adults spend more time in the fields in this rural area and children have fewer sick days from school. Young girls who traditionally fetched water now have time to not only go to school but also complete homework activities – adding to the knowledge bank of the future.
As you travel through the many villages in Takeo province you see wells in most communities as a result of Kun and Theng’s dilligence and their partnership with metamorphic. Most houses have water filters and access to a well just nearby.
Schools are being transformed also, as one by one, latrines and wash basins are being introduced, hygiene and sanitation education provide by Kuns team of church planters and metamorphic staff.
Then there is the economy. Kun has continuously launched new businesses, provided funds for entrepreneurs and trained and developed people to begin their own enterprises. Improved farming techniques, budgeting and business planning are making a major difference to the business outcomes in Takeo province as new businesses spring up all over the place. Now there is opportunity to create an income and life in the province without the need to move to the city.
Takeo province was once a dust bowl with some of the poorest people in Cambodia living there. It had potential but just needed a visionary to see it and then take action. Today it is a thriving region with opportunities created daily for the people to improve their futures. Many of these people are not only enjoying the Physical and emotional benefits of this holistic development story, but also the spiritual. Many residents have become Christians and as a result there is a new sense of peace and belonging.
The selflessness of Kun and Theng is admirable and the buy in from the communities amazing, as together they create a better future for all of the people of Takeo Province Cambodia.
This is transformation, this is wholistic development!
To read more about Kun and Theng and their church planting story – go to church planting stories.