By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent
BATTAMBANG, Cambodia—Four college students from area Baptist Collegiate Ministries learned valuable lessons in mission opportunities in Battambang, Cambodia, this past July.
The students, from Morgan State University, Towson University, and the University of Maryland, College Park, joined Mike McQuitty, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware missionary for collegiate church planting, to help Baptist churches in Battambang, The urban area, located in the far northwest region of Cambodia, is the fourth most populous province in the Asian country.
There, the collegians led English camps and Bible studies for around 240 children at three different church sites. The students also shared the gospel with people in markets and their testimonies at the churches.
Charlene Thomas, a senior majoring in social work at Morgan State, called the experience “eye-opening.” She admitted, “It was sort of strange because it was more different than anything I have done before.”
She loved interacting with the children and getting to know them by name. “They were so attentive and obedient,” she noticed, adding that’s how she wants to be in her relationship with Jesus. “They didn’t have nearly as much as we do. They come from stick homes, but they never complained. They still loved to play.”
But what really weighed on her heart the most was that there were Christians “all the way across the world” who worshipped the same Jesus she did. “The Word of God is being preached all across the world,” she rejoiced.
Thomas said her mentor, Vickie Stewart, BCM/D’s collegiate minister at Morgan State, influenced her to take advantage of this opportunity, which “really helped me because I stepped out in faith and did something I have never done.” She added, “God strengthened me through the Spirit of the Lord to step out and do more things like this.”
Ariana Castro, a freshman at University of Maryland in College Park, also fell in love with the children. She was touched particularly when the children received snacks.
“They would put their hands together and bow and say, ‘Thank you, Teacher,’” she said, sharing she often was overcome with their politeness and obvious gratitude.
“It was incredible to see a completely different culture… to be so on fire for God when they don’t have nearly as much as we do,” Castro said.
[boxify cols=”8″ cols_use=”4″ box_spacing=”20″ padding=”20″ radius=”10″ border_color=”red” border_width=”1″ border_style=”dashed” background_color=”blue” background_opacity=”10″ position=”right”] Your Collegiate Ministers:
Anne Arundel Community College:
Peggy Peek, 443-820-3212, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bowie State University:
NaKhia Grays, 301-957-5654, email@example.com
Frostburg State University:
Ron Yost, 301-689-2588, firstname.lastname@example.org
Vickie Stewart, 443-452-8960, email@example.com
Adam Muhtaseb, 443-235-8811, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike McQuitty, 315-569-2630, email@example.com
University of Delaware:
Blake Hardcastle, 302-562-0151, firstname.lastname@example.org
University of MD, College Park:
Jessica Senasack, 301-405-8443, email@example.com
U.S. Naval Academy:
Justin Woods, 410-739-2500, firstname.lastname@example.org [/boxify]
The team ministered to three groups of children each day, rotating between English classes, Bible stories, recreation, crafts and snacks. Each day, the children learned key verses in both English and their native tongue.
“It was amazing to hear people sing, praise and worship in their language,” Castro said.
McQuitty said the children loved the college students, who displayed great compassion in a country that has experienced great heartache. During the 1970s, the Khmer Rouge, followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea in Cambodia, attempted social engineering, which resulted in genocide.
“Nearly two million, of eight million, were killed. Everybody lost somebody, a brother or sister, mom or dad,” said McQuitty. “It was really eye-opening for the students.”
But it is not without other challenges, too, he noted. Cambodians rely on a plurality of religious beliefs, though the official religion is Theravada Buddhism, which is practiced by approximately 95 percent of the Cambodian population.
For many, Jesus is just one more god they can add to their growing lists of gods, he said.
Nonetheless, McQuitty described the country as being open to Christianity, so the students had great freedom in sharing their faith and freely taught at church sites on property owned by churches. He’s thankful his team had the opportunity to help make a difference, which is at the core of his work among collegiate ministries across Maryland and Delaware.
Presently, there are campus ministries at nine area colleges and universities with new works being started at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County and at Stevenson University in Baltimore.
If you have students in college, please contact Mike McQuitty at email@example.com or Joye Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org so they can connect them to a collegiate minister. Learn more at https://bcmd.org/collegiate.