By the Rev. Seungsoo “RJ” Jun
Did you know the Virginia Annual Conference played a role in the launch of Cambodia churches forming a Provisional Methodist Conference?
As shared by the Rev. Glenn Rowley, former conference Director of Justice and Missional Excellence Office, in the November 2018 Advocate magazine, “The Virginia Conference began our international partnership with the Methodist Mission in Cambodia in 2013 with a primary goal of supporting their growth into a Provisional Methodist Conference.”
Through Partnerships of Hope (POH), formerly knowns as Initiatives of Hope (IOH), led by the Rev. Dr. Clarence Brown, the Virginia Conference has been partnering and focusing our missional effort with Brazil, Cambodia, Mozambique, and now the Native Americans.
The Virginia Conference has supported Cambodia and promoted General Board of Global Ministries Missionary Clara Biswas since 2012. Biswas was sent to Cambodia as a Community Worker in 2001. Years before Cambodia was recognized as part of IOH, Aldersgate UMC, Alexandria, and their United Methodist Women (UMW), supported Clara since 2004.
Biswas severs as a director of Street Children Ministry in Phnim Penh, Cambodia. In her ministry, she works with children, families at the dumpsites, two orphanages, displaced families in resettlement areas, and HIV victims. She has also worked to raise funds for educational and vocational scholarships for the children to attend school and training facilities.
Food for Poor Children and Orphans: Children in resettlement areas outside Phnom Penh were without adequate food and water until Biswas began a feeding program of vegetable soup and rice. It is perhaps the one nutrient rich meal of the day that they can count on.
She also ensures these children have opportunity to attend Sunday School. At Christmas time, Biswas works with a local pastor to put on a Christmas program at the orphanages, the dumpsite, and the resettlement areas. This is a special time for all the street children as they learn and relearn the Christmas story, act out the Christmas pageant, and sing the familiar songs of the holy season. Biswas tries to give each of them a T-shirt and a meal. She also works with the pastor to put on Easter pageants so the children understand the story of the resurrection and the hope they have as children of God.
Of all the missionaries in Cambodia at the beginning (2000-2001), only Biswas, Andrew Lee, and Helen Camarce remain, and Virginia Conference is proud to be the main conference, along with the Louisiana Conference and West and East Ohio Conferences, for the mission to Cambodia.
Would you like to learn more about the mission in Cambodia?
#StillinMission Episode 27 with Global Ministries will feature Biwas, along with three other missionaries, to share their story in mission. Register at: https://gbgm.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0kduCgqzsiHtNWjG56pwKUJg_bKuR0dKQf.
Date: February 4, 2021 at 7 p.m.
Would you like to sponsor Clara Biwas?
Local churches can help by sending funds to the conference marked for Advance #14921A, which is Clara’s project number. Funds go directly to that ministry. Another way of helping is through Alternative Giving Christmas programs.
Would you/ your church like to be involved in mission to Cambodia and South East Asia?
Please contact the Serving Ministries office (Serving@vaumc.org), and we will connect you with Juanita Csontos, Cambodia Committee Coordinator, Partnerships of Hope.
-The Rev. Seungsoo “RJ” Jun is the conference Associate Director of Serving Ministries.