Discipling a Generation

A 6 hour bus ride from Phnom Penh to Battambang through the ‘rice bowl’ of Cambodia brought to mind Jesus’ words: “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few”. We’d heard some exciting reports about what God was doing through the youth-centred ministries of the University of the Nations Battambang and decided to check it out for ourselves. Together with students from our Media2Go seminar, we had the opportunity to capture a few stories from this hotspot where God is at work.

The 4 young people we profiled were all born a decade after the Khmer Rouge genocide of the late 1970s. They represent a new generation which is rising from the ashes of that horrific era. Today, about 80% of Cambodia’s population is under the age of 30.  The spiritual direction that this generation takes will have a huge impact on the depth of healing and transformation that occurs in a nation once known to the world as ‘The Killing Fields’.  This is a pivotal time in Cambodia’s history.

Excited by a vision to ‘reach a nation in one generation’, a DTS outreach team from Kona, Hawaii, came to Battambang in 2005 to pioneer a YWAM base. It began with a youth centre to teach Bible, English and life skills, and today trains and disciples up to 400 young people daily.  Each of the 4 young Cambodians we focused on came through the centre’s doors with their own stories of pain, loss, and struggle.  Each one encountered people who loved them, encouraged them, walked with them, and exemplified Jesus to them.

Today, they are all ‘bearing fruit’; discipling others with the unique gifts God’s given them in the areas of Bible and English teaching, dance, leadership, and even café management. As our students listened and documented the stories, they were impacted much more than anticipated by the warmth, gentleness, and passionate commitment to Christ that these Khmer young people showed.

‘Behab: A Reconciled Generation’ by Jillana Rathjen (Canada) tells the story of a life transformed through the work of the ‘youth centred’ ministries of the University of the Nations Battambang. The scene is tastefully set by an exploration of text/music interplay, catapulting us into the story of a young Cambodian man named Bihab. Jillana captured Bihab’s personality wonderfully, and she was able to navigate her subject through sensitive territory in an honouring manner.  By the end of this film, you too may be left with a sense of hopeful anticipation, and a quiet urge to bust a move.

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