HUCH YADA IS STUDYING Sociology at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. He stays at Joy Methodist Hostel, one of several hostels run by the coalition of churches under the Methodist Church in Cambodia (MCC) banner. He is from Kampong Thom Province, about 200km from Phnom Penh, and without proper accommodation, this 21-year-old runs the risk of not being able to study at all.
His other alternative? To depend on the goodwill of relatives or friends, or worse, volunteer for a job in exchange for a place to stay. This would mean an environment that may be less secure and safe for a young vulnerable teenager, not to mention the possibility of living in a non-conducive environment for studying and homework.
Often, to be able to aﬀord paying for accommodation in a hostel, the student would have to take on a part-time job. After some time, they may end up dropping out of school altogether. Many of them come from poor families, and without the benefit of completing school or college, the cycle of poverty may be perpetuated.
MCC churches have now stepped up their response to this predicament through opening aﬀordable, safe and secure student hostels in Phnom Penh and provincial towns over the past three to four years. The newest hostel, Joy Methodist Hostel, was dedicated on January 5 this year, and is located near several universities, including the Royal University of Law and Economics.
All student hostels are run autonomously by the MCC churches. Joy Methodist Hostel is supported by the Holy Mountain Methodist Church (HMCC). The Rev Yin Chhoeung, Pastor of HMCC, and the Rev Song Jin Sup, MCC Missions Superintendent, led the dedication service. The service was also attended by special guests from Singapore, including Mrs Lucy Yeo from Foochow Methodist Church (FMC) and Dr Seet Ai Mee from Aldersgate Methodist Church.
FMC supports the hostel ministry in Cambodia.
Other guests included three students who shared about how they came to know and accept Jesus Christ as Saviour after coming to live at Joy Methodist Hostel.
The occasion was a joyous one, as reflected in the banner to mark the occasion, which reminded all that “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10b).
The new hostel can accommodate 24 students. Houseparents Sreng and Thida, both graduates of Cambodia Methodist Bible School, provide spiritual guidance and supervision for the students. The hostelites regularly attend worship services and youth activities at HMMC.
Students pay a token sum of US$5 to US$10. In addition, they bring a bag of rice (about 50 kg) from their home village as a contribution. Students do not have to be believers to be accepted into a hostel. They just need to be willing to abide by the rules and regulations, and attend all structured programmes like Bible Study.
Youths who later accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour then join a church, and participate in church activities. Youths who are already believers in their village can get a recommendation from their pastor to stay at the hostels.
These hostels are an outreach project. In the more established hostels, the youths are grouped into bands and they go out to do outreach in the neighbourhood where the hostel is located. Some even travel to their home village to do outreach, bringing home not only their added skills and knowledge, but also the precious good news of the Gospel.
GIVE * to the hostel ministry in Cambodia if you can. Contact the Rev Teresa Wilborn at teresa. firstname.lastname@example.org
PRAY * that the students living in the Methodist hostels will find Jesus and grow in the Lord.
The Rev Philip Lim is the Executive Director of the Methodist Missions Society (MMS). The Rev Teresa Wilborn is the Assistant Director of Community Development in the MMS.