BATTAMBANG – This is the story of Crossing Cambodia, an missionary work that began in an unusual way and that operates in an unusual way. You will want to read about it.
An Unusual Beginning
Founder Gregory Holz says, “I’ve lived in Cambodia since 2007 and started an NGO to reach out and support street children in 2013. Now my whole life revolves around getting them through school and letting them be kids.”
There’s nothing that sounds unusual about that. It’s how it happened that is unusual. In the middle of a Maundy Thursday service in Battambang, Cambodia, in 2011, someone brought some raggedy street children, asking if anyone in the church could help them.
The church, of course, agreed to help. But first, the staff needed to learn what they could do that would do more than treat the effects of poverty. Nonetheless, the church leaders began an immediate outreach whilst they also conferred and prayed over a long-term plan.
In the short-term, the people from the church went into the slums of Battambang a couple of days a week, to gather children together, feed them, bathe them, and teach them about Jesus. The Lord led the church to form Crossing Cambodia as a separate entity and empower the new NGO to serve the Lord more effectively among the street children.
The Unusual Method
Like other street kids around the world, these come from slums, abandoned buildings, and communities of homeless families. Without loving intervention, their tomorrows will be the same as today, which is the same as yesterday. Help for today and hope for tomorrow must come from some other source. That source is Jesus. He uses Crossing Cambodia to bring that help and hope in the form of His great mercy and grace in Battambang.
As you might expect, food, clothing, and schooling play a role in Crossing Cambodia’s ministry. It’s how they do it that is unusual.
- Believers head out in the early morning to round up the kids to bring them to the main office location, dragging them out of bed, if necessary.
- At the main office, the children are fed breakfast, bathed, and “properly dressed” in their uniform before being taken to school.
- The children are picked up at school at midday and brought to the office again, where they are fed a nutritious lunch.
- After lunch, separate groups of children (four to six per group) are tutored in English, complete their homework, play sports, and study their Bibles.
- While all of this has been transpiring, the Crossing Cambodia team has washed and mended all the children’s clothing. When it is time to return home around 4:30 p.m., the kids change back into their own freshly-cleaned clothing.
Each small group of children works with a full-time advocate. Each advocate takes care to understand the needs of the children in his or her group based upon direct evidence of academic progress and awareness of the child’s situation at home.
One More Unusual Thing
Another thing that is unusual about Crossing Cambodia is its commitment of how to meet the challenge before it. Call it a motto if you wish, but it is more like a credo.
TRUSTING GOD TO CHANGE THE WORLD.
Crossing Cambodia is helping street kids to have a better future. Each day’s work is a step of faith taken with the expectation that the change in the kids’ lives will come from the Lord.