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Ratanak and a few of the university students he ministers with

One man’s heart to help young students find safe and affordable housing in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, has turned into a budding ministry. Resonate Global Mission missionaries Gil and Joyce Suh are helping this grassroots ministry grow and thrive.

God’s Heart for Students

Many young adults from Cambodia’s rural provinces move to the crowded capital to attend university. Their families might scrape together what money they can, but it’s not much. Students need to find a job and a place to live, but they’re unfamiliar with the towering skyscrapers and busy streets of the city. They don’t know where to look.

Living in the capital, Meas Ratanak heard stories of students being scammed or moving into unsafe apartments. It unsettled him. He had no extra cash to lend, but he did have time and connections from his work with a local non-profit. He helped students find safe, affordable housing and jobs so they could support themselves.

When Resonate Global Mission missionary Gil Suh met Ratanak through a friend, Ratanak caught Gil’s attention.

“Why are you helping these students?” Gil asked.

“I don’t know,” said Ratanak. “God put it on my heart.”

As is common in rural Cambodia, many of the students Ratanak is assisting come from families who practice Buddhism. They know very little about Jesus, if they know anything about him at all. Ratanak sensed that these students—who were stressed, overwhelmed, and anxious about the future—needed hope. He started sharing the gospel with them and launched Bible studies where they could come together and learn about the grace, hope, and love found in Christ.

Gil was amazed. As a local Cambodian in Phnom Penh, Ratanak is uniquely positioned to minster to these students—and God was working powerfully through him. Gil asked Ratanak how Resonate could help.

Encouragement and Support

Ratanak asked Gil for encouragement and support. Ratanak has a pastoral heart, but he’s never had ministry training. When students ask difficult questions about Christianity, he’s not always sure what to say or do. So, Gil started mentoring Ratanak and providing much-needed support.

“This ministry is so difficult, and [I spend] a lot of time helping them,” said Ratanak.

He said meeting with Gil gives him the encouragement and support he needs to keep going. Gil trains Ratanak how to lead a Bible study, how to minister with students, and what topics to dive into when studying the Bible with young Christians or people who are learning about Christianity. He serves as a soundboard for Ratanak when students ask hard questions. 

Finding Faith

Ratanak said he’s watched the students grow in their understanding and faith in Christ. “[The students] can understand clearly about God’s love and his salvation,” said Ratanak. “They start to change their heart and attitude with hope for the future.”

One student, Sivmuy, was not a Christian before moving to Phnom Penh. But when she met Ratanak, she started going to the Bible study and experienced hope and grace through the message of the gospel. She decided to follow Christ. Ratanak connected her with a church, and she’s grown so much that she’s able to be a leader for others in her congregation and community.

Some students have yet to commit their lives to Christ, but they’re grappling with how to tell their Buddhist families that they might be Christians. Ratanak knows just how important family is to these students and is able to offer encouragement and guidance.

"I have a vision that God will bless Cambodia through these students when they become professionals in the future," said Ratanak.

Thank you for supporting Resonate missionaries Gil and Joyce Suh, who equip and empower Ratanak in leadership. Your support has reverberating effects when people work and meet together in ministry—young adults are finding hope in Christ!

This story was originally published on crcna.org.

Country: 
Cambodia
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