Missionary uses connection with children to reach Cambodia community
A Nazarene missionary to Cambodia used her ability to connect with children to earn the community’s trust and an outlet to share God’s love.
When Cambodia’s initial COVID-19 quarantine period came to an end, missionary Shannon Smith ventured outside of her house and into a new neighborhood. After a few exploratory walks, she started meeting families with many children. She decided to start walking every day at 5 p.m., and the children were eager to play with her.
“We started by running down the street or playing frisbee,” Smith said. “I really loved the hour every day that I was able to talk to people in the neighborhood and play with the kids there.”
Eventually, she brought more items to play with, packing an entire suitcase full of toys, games, and mats. The mats were laid on the ground and provided a portable play area.
Smith engaged with the community this way for several months until one day in June, she arrived to find one of the housing areas completely torn down. This was a place many of the families had lived. All she could do was keep those families in prayer.
“I was so upset because I didn’t even get to say goodbye to the kids who were living there,” Smith said. “I asked those who were left how to find them, but they all just told me they had moved far away.”
Then a few weeks ago, when she went to play with the kids in that area, Shannon ran into the mother of one of the families who had suddenly disappeared.
“She told me that the kids really missed me and she let me follow her to where they are living now,” Smith said.
These families live wherever the work is. Smith learned that the families had been working only a 15- minute walk from her house. She went home that day with a heart full of gratitude to God for reuniting her with the kids and their families.
“When I moved to this new neighborhood at the start of 2020, I knew God must have a plan for moving me to this area,” Smith said. “I prayed for families and kids that I could meet, get to know, teach, and share the love of Christ with.”
When she originally prayed this prayer, she had the impression that God was going to give her two groups of families and kids to love, and now He has.
“God is so good, and I am forever grateful for every opportunity He gives me to share His hope and love with these beautiful Khmer children and their families.”