The Church of God has two great works in progress in Siem Reap, Cambodia: People for Care and Learning, under the local leadership of J.D. and Angie Woodside, and a Church mission plant led by Pastor Israel and Debbie Minay.
By Tony Richie
From December 9-16, 2019 I was blessed to be part of a team led by Bishop Ronnie Hepperly, Church of God superintendent for the region, working together with both groups providing training in church planting, discipleship, and evangelism as well as doctrinal instruction in the Church of God Declaration of Faith. Our team also included Ryan Massey, a businessman from RIO Church in Townsend, Tennessee with a passionate commitment to the mission of Christ to the world. To say the least, our time with sisters and brothers in Siem Reap was an enriching experience and, I believe, productive for all involved.
J.D. Woodside is a capable and personable leader, and a pleasure to partner with for this city where the gospel is at work. People for Care and Learning provides much-needed humanitarian and educational services in a Christ-centered context. The second in a series of encounters at PCL led by Bishop Hepperly, our time in the classroom with about 30 student-leaders quickly revealed the depth of developing indigenous leaders at PCL. Their insight and passion for Christ, for gospel truth, and for Christian ministry is inspiring and refreshing. It is quite evident that they are carrying the work of Christ to the next level in a country where 95% of the population practice Theravada Buddhism.
Israel Minay, a lifelong missionary with a contagious passion for those who have not heard the gospel, is committed to long term ministry in Siem Reap. And the church plant is experiencing exciting growth as Pastor Minay skillfully focuses on developing indigenous pastors and believers who in turn minister to others. After a morning of evangelism training, his congregation spent an afternoon sharing the gospel in the city. They reported that 50% of the people they witnessed to immediately converted to Jesus Christ!
As a member of the Church of God International Church Planting Task Force, Bishop Ronnie Hepperly has developed an amazingly effective approach for translating the message of the gospel across cultural boundaries which includes both instructive initial encounters and follow up sustainability. As a lead pastor myself at New Harvest Church of God as well as a member of the Tennessee World Missions Board and a Lecturer in Theology at Pentecostal Theological Seminary, I was impressed with the effective teamwork of Hepperly, Woodside, and Minay in making it happen for Christ in this teeming Asian city. Above all, I was blessed by the beautiful spirit of our Cambodian sisters and brothers in Christ in Siem Reap. Please, let us pray for them and for their ministry.
Tony Richie is a professor at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary and pastor of the New Harvest Church of God.