The country experienced political turmoil and mass genocide when Communist Khmer Rouge forces took over the capital city, Phnom Penh, in 1975. It is estimated that about 1.5 million Cambodians (20% of the population) were executed or died from starvation or forced labour during the Khmer Rouge rule under Pol Pot. In 1978, Vietnam invaded the country, which led to nearly 13 years of civil war. Today, Cambodia hosts a multiparty democracy under a constitutional monarchy.
Cambodia relies heavily on its garment industry, which makes up about 80% of the country’s exports. Another growing industry is tourism. Other industries include rice milling, fishing, lumber, rubber, cement, gem mining and textiles.
According to Operation World, about 83% of the population is Theravada Buddhist. The past 20 years have seen unprecedented church growth in Cambodia, with 3,13% of the population Christian (1,6% Evangelical).
OM Cambodia focuses on evangelism, church planting and the training of believers. Their discipleship programmes aim to establish the church in the region and to produce leaders for world missions.
The OM team consists of 22 local Khmer people and 3 international workers. About 5 international short-term teams are hosted each year. Since OM Cambodia started in 2006, three churches have been planted in Phnom Penh, Prek Svay village and Takeo province, with 150 adults and 200 children attending services regularly. The team is preparing for a fourth church plant in Kampong Speu province.
Daily devotions are conducted at various garment factories in Phnom Penh, and regular discipleship programmes are held in the communities of the church plants. OM Cambodia's church plant in Phnom Penh has sent out three Cambodians to world missions, and three more are preparing to join the mission field soon.
With 50% of the population under the age of 18 and a poor basic education system, OM Cambodia also runs a Christian kindergarten and primary school for 100 children in Battambang, as well as Sae Soon Children’s Home and live-in youth centre for 35 children and teenagers in Phnom Penh. Computer and language classes (English and Korean) are also being offered.
To encourage further education, OM Cambodia is also involved in translation work, including George Verwer’s books: ‘No Turning Back’ and ‘Out of the Comfort Zone’. Several other books have been translated and distributed to 24 Junior High and High Schools throughout the country. Several Christian movies have also been translated.
Mercy Teams International (MTI) runs Project Freedom and a vocational training centre in Phnom Penh; and a community church, education centre and rural women’s sewing project in a village 2-hours north of the capital.
Project Freedom offers counselling and psychotherapeutic resources to child victims of sexual and physical abuse. Project Freedom also works to help prevent abuse through training and education in the community. Project Wings is a vocational training centre designed to give young people from very poor backgrounds the opportunity to learn a technical skill e.g. IT, mechanics, welding and metal work, electrical and plumbing skills, carpentry and building, and hairdressing and sewing.
An education centre was established for preschool-aged children, and as a result of the love and care of staff members, a community church has since emerged. A sewing project offers rural women alternative employment and their children a safe place during working hours. The income made from products sold are used for salaries and re-invested into the project.