We come to church every Saturday or Sunday to worship and listen to God’s word. But for the Christians in Cambodia and Batam, it might mean walking for over an hour under the blazing sun to get to church. Or it might mean constant negotiations with the local government for church services to run as per normal.
For both Rev Hieng and Rev Henok who are leading the churches in Cambodia and Batam respectively, they shared candidly about their struggles to become a follower of Christ and heeding God’s call to enter into full-time ministry. But even as a shepherd now, the battles continue. This includes strife among fellow church members as well as their home country’s economic development competing for the hearts and minds of younger church members.
We give thanks for Rev Hieng’s and Rev Henok’s faithful service and we pray that they will have perseverance to ride out the various storms with God’s help. On our part, we must also remember that this freedom to worship God in Singapore is a gift from Him, a most precious gift indeed. As you read on to hear from the pastors in Cambodia and Batam and their work in the respective churches, let’s remember them in prayer today.
Rev Henok Hariyanto, 40 years old, Married
Church: Riau Islands, Batam, Church of Good Shepherd
Bible Verse: Colossians 3:23-24: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
Prayer: Pray for God’s peace and love to reign among church members, and for the external community to experience God’s love through them. Pray for Rev Henok Hariyanto and his team to strength to do God’s work and fixing their eyes on the Lord as they serve.
When and how did you receive Christ and how did you become a pastor in Batam? Was being pastor part of your career plan?
I do not remember exactly when I received Christ as my Lord and Saviour, as it was a gradual process in my life. It is not part of my career plan to be a pastor but it is God’s calling in my life since I was about 14 years old. But I ignored it even after I left my hometown in Java and came to Batam to work in a company in 1996. I continued rejecting the calling for the next 5 years, but the Lord kept reminding me during those five years until I kept crying and could no longer ignore the calling. Finally, I resigned from my job in 2001 and responded to God’s calling.
2. How has the church in Batam evolved over the last few years and which aspect was the most heartening to you?
The church has evolved because the Lord has made it grow and blessed the ministries that we have been doing through evangelism, visitation, community work, cell group, prayer meetings, children ministry, Sunday services, etc. The aspect that was heartening to me is to see people coming to accept Christ as their Lord and Saviour and got baptised as well as grow in the Lord.
3. What are the challenges of running a church in Batam? Which is the most fulfilling aspect?
One of internal challenges that I am facing in running a church is disunity among the church members. We are also facing external challenges such as the external community who is against the church and the government regulations that make it difficult for establishing and running the church. But the most fulfilling aspect is that when we continue to focus on God’s calling to serve Him, He never leaves us alone and He enables us to overcome both internal and external challenges.
4. What are your dreams and hopes for the church in Batam?
Reverend Tit Hieng, 53, Married with three children
Church: Church of the Lord Jesus Christ Our Peace (CCOP), Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Bible verse: Palms 103:2-4 Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his bene ts— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.
Prayer: Pray for the church in Cambodia to resist worldly temptations as the country undergoes transformation; for Rev Hieng and his team to press on and to continue raising a new generation of Christians.
Our dreams and hope for the church in Batam is to be a parish (self-supporting church). It means that the Lord Himself will continue to grow the church qualitatively and quantitatively: adding the number of people who believe in Christ as their Lord and Saviour, growing members to be mature disciples of Christ as well as blessing the church to be financially self-supporting.
1) When and how did you receive Christ and how did you become a pastor in Cambodia? Was being a pastor part of your career plan?
In 1992, my cousins and my Aunt staying in the United States visited me and they shared the gospel with me. But at that time, I didn’t understand what they were talking about as I was still living in the dark. Only a year later, I started to read the bible, some bible tracts, and prayed a simple prayer. Only then the Holy Spirit started working in me and opened my eyes to know Him. My life was changed from the addiction of smoking, gambling, drinking, and other sins.
I started having a new life and was born again in the Lord. I started to have hope, peace, and joy in my life. The Holy Spirit led me to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ our Peace where I attended bible study with the rst Anglican missionary, Rev. Don Cormack. Soon thereafter, I was baptised by him.
Being a pastor wasn’t part of my career plan. When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and started attending bible school, I just wanted to know more about Him and I have never thought about being a Pastor. But after graduating in 1998 from the Phnom Penh Bible School, I have served the Lord full-time in church ever since.
2) How has the church in Cambodia evolved over the last few years and which aspect was the most heartening to you?
The Anglican Church of Cambodia started as one congregation in Phnom Penh city and subsequently, God led us to plant another six Churches in the provinces but the attendance the provincial churches always fluctuate.
Nonetheless, the word of God from Philippians 1:6 always encourage me, and I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion on the day of Jesus Christ. Galatians 6:9-10 encourages me as well: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone and especially to those who are of the household of faith”.
I thank God that we try to raise up and train the local Pastor to lead the Churches and I also thank God for all the partnership from the Anglican Church of Singapore who support the Anglican Church of Cambodia.
3) What are the challenges of running a church in Cambodia? What is the most fulfilling aspect?
There are a lot challenges running a church in Cambodia. The Church grows but not in depth because the Church is still young and has not mature yet. Most of the Church members in the countryside are illiterate, making it hard for them to be a mature Christian. Most of the young people in the countryside are jobless and will leave their hometown to find a job in the city or in another country. The country is developing, but the Church seems to be “cooling”. There are a lot of Churches which doesn’t have the re of the Holy Spirit to do the witnessing. It is getting harder and harder to bring people to Christ and very hard to find the right person to serve the Lord. The most ful lling aspect is training the younger generation to serve the Lord.
4) What are your dreams and hopes for the church in Cambodia?
I really want to see the Churches in Cambodia changing from the inside out, and seeing mature Christians who have faith, hope and love, unity in the body of Christ to serve the Lord together. As for the Anglican Church, we want to see the Church in Cambodia become self- supporting, self-governing and self-propagating.