There were 680 registered guests, representing 488 schools, 127,240 students, 5,240 teachers and the government of Banteay Meanchey Province, Cambodia. They stood together in the theater of Meanchey University. Hosted jointly by SEAPC, the Provincial Government, and the Ministry of Education, the meeting had been called for each District Superintendent to share their plan to stem the flow of children leaving school and going illegally to Thailand where they become the phantom faces we see in flesh trade videos.
Having completed the national anthem, the lieutenant governor leaned over to me and said, “How ‘bout we cut the usual lengthy speeches, just say hello, and cut this meeting from two days to one?”
Now that is the kind of leadership I enjoy — let’s cut the talk and get the work done.
We endured a rather verbose national government representative and then the lieutenant governor made his welcome and assuring comments toward SEAPC and our involvement in bringing technology centers to public schools in the province.
My comments were brief. The national motto of Cambodia is “Nation, Religion, King.” I pointed out to the assembly that I spoke neither for the nation, nor for the king, so I must be there to speak for God. I shared that He loves them so much that He gave His only Son, that whoever would believe in Him would not perish. This is now the second time I have shared the good news with these 680. Then I asked if we could stand and bow our heads and if I might pray for them. They stood and we prayed, inviting the Holy Spirit to Banteay Meanchey and closed with a hearty “amen” from all in attendance.
Returning to my seat, my eyes met those of the lieutenant governor. “Good, pastor,” he said. “Thank you.”
The agreement of church and state to bring Christian workers and materials into public schools is so refreshing. Each eye-to-eye agreement dissolves layers of misconception. We were there to formalize memorandums of understanding between SEAPC and each school district for the establishment of a technology training center at their desired location within each district.
Nine districts, nine locations, nine buildings, all at the same time. They provide the land and 50 workers/builders, and we provide the materials and the trainers/contractors. Our investment is $125,000 per location, $1,125,000 for the total project. The short term fruit is 450 skilled workers certified by SEAPC, the school, and the government, which raises their income from $1 per day as unskilled labor to $10 per day as skilled labor.
The long term result is curriculum development and distribution, beginning with My Precious Book, a children’s bi-lingual Bible storybook which we will use to teach reading at the elementary level (93,000 students) and English at the secondary schools (33,000 students).
These buildings become educational centers as the students to whom SEAPC has provided scholarships return to Banteay Meanchey as trainers. We have developed a Christ-centered, Holy Spirit-filled training process for teachers as all levels. We also become a central leadership development facility for local church leadership development.
With an agreement reached, MOU’s signed, dinner served, we now enter into “Do it Land.”
The giving of Team 217 (217 people giving $100 per month for 18 months) will facilitate the translation, printing, and distribution of My Precious Book, and the other curricula we need. This team is making it possible to mobilize the young fruit of our orphan care, Love Cambodia, and our scholarship recipients to go to work within these districts.
The $1.125 million is coming. The first payment to the contractor is due as you read this. Yippie, faith is fun.
Please pray for these kids. If a child enrolls in these schools, there is a 90 percent probability that they will not graduate from high school. The senior class is less than 10 percent of the size of the first grade class. These are the children who, heavily recruited at age 13, are featured in the horrible videos we see of slavery. Jesus will change this place as we participate with Him. And they all said, “amen.”
~ Mark Geppert