For the first time, on Thursday Aug. 22, the New Community United Methodist Church will host Rev. Joseph Chan and his wife, Marilyn, of Cambodia, for a lunch and presentation on their Cambodian ministries.
Chan and his Marilyn lived in Cambodia in the late 1970s where they were unfortunate victims of the brutal Khmer Rouge government. Following two years of forced 18-20 hour work days, with little to no food, the couple fled to Thailand in hopes of escaping the tyrannical government that killed thousands of people.
While staying in a Thailand refugee camp the couple found faith in God and converted from Buddhism to Christianity. They returned to Cambodia later to help revitalize the community from which they were once born.
Now days the couple are both missionaries with the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church where they serve in Phnom Penh, There they spend their time teaching local pastors and church leaders how to overcome hardships in the community like poverty and political oppression. The couple offers up their time to provide pastoral care and support to anyone who needs the help.
As a main focus for their teachings Marilyn tends to focus on women development, which is something not taught in many countries outside the U.S. Her responsibilities include introducing and organizing what she calls "livelihood projects" including pig, fish and vegetable farming, silk weaving, sewing and hammock making. She seeks missionaries that encourage women's empowerment in the areas of emotional health and spiritual growth.
"I believe this is a call from God to serve Christ by sharing the truth by building trust, hope, and love," Chan said. "I joyfully and faithfully accept it."
Meanwhile on his return to Cambodia, as part of the Cambodia Mission Initiative of the Board of Ministries, Joseph was able to connect to different countries using his new found Christian religion.
"I was able to forge bridges between Christians in the US and Cambodian people and their leadership," Chan said.
The couples intinatary includes an 11 day visit to the states including a stop in Oakhurst. The couple plans to visit more than 15 cities to give advice and information about their ever-growing faith. They will begin their mission to the states in Alameda on Aug. 14 and end in Point Pleasant on Aug. 25. In between the couple will visit towns all over California and Nevada including Fresno, Clovis, Tulare, Reno and Oakland.
The public is encouraged to join the lunch/discussion which will be held at the New Community United Methodist Church, 49223 Road 426 in Oakhurst. The presentation begins at 12 p.m. with lunch following shortly after.