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This picture of young people leading worship in Cambodia during a recent Justice Journey is especially meaningful, thanks to some wise words given to us in 2007.  

"Your churches from the West are destroying our churches and causing division with our pastors!" emphasized Reverend Heng Cheng  (President of the Evangelical Fellowship of Cambodia). 

The story he shared with us before making this sobering statement painted a picture we will never forget. Here is the Coles notes version:

  • During the war, Rev Heng Cheng found himself near death along a riverbank – not having eaten in many weeks.
  • He was rescued by Vietnamese soldiers if I got the story right, and brought back to a Vietnamese camp where he rested.
  • When he had enough energy to speak after a few days, he demanded to the Vietnamese medic, “why didn’t you feed me more than just a few grains of rice when you brought me here…I was so hungry.”
  • “If you gave you any more rice, you would have surely died, as you did not have the capacity to digest the food," the medic instructed.

It was at this point that Rev Heng Cheng leaned in and confidently schooled us, “my condition is the same as our Cambodian pastors. They do not have the capacity to manage all the money the West is sending them and it is destroying our churches and causing division with our pastors."

He strongly recommended that we do not partner directly with churches or orphanages, but instead develop long-term committed relationships with networks to minimize damage and increase potential impact. We took his wise words seriously and the rest is history. The four networks that we started with in 2007 have all multiplied their impact, as we continue to have strong enduring relationships with these groups and have added a few more to our portfolio.  The four groups are: (1) Big Brothers and Sisters of Cambodia, which evolved into Alongsiders, (2) Evangelical Fellowship of Cambodia – Kingdom Equipped Youth turned into Mission Dove, (3) Timothy’s All Project - which has run its course, but we still work closely with its Director, Raju, and (4) Chab Dai Coalition, which brings together more than 50 organizations that are dedicated to ending modern-day slavery. 

We are so happy that Rev Heng Cheng inspired us to invest relationally into movements/leaders over the long haul in Cambodia as these networks have expanded significantly in Cambodia and around the world.  

Want to learn more about how Tenth lives out Love and Justice in Vancouver and around the world? Sign up for the Love and Justice Course in May, when we will be going deeper into the lives of the early church in the Book of Acts, the epistles, and Pauline letters.  Register here

We will be premiering some new films from our recent Cambodia Justice Journey in May when we will be rolling out a Cambodia campaign. Stay tuned! 

Learn more about Alongsiders here.  

Read more of Reverend Heng Cheng's story here.

The picture above was taken by Joel Krahn during a 2023 Justice Journey at an Alongsiders camp at  Shalom Valley.