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The Amazing Impact Story of a New Cambodian Ministry Partner

May 8, 2024 |  By Sue Morris

Wendy knelt and tearfully hugged the sign at the new well in Cambodian village. The well was an unexpected gift to her, as it was dedicated to her father, who had recently passed away.

“Oh, my father would be very happy about this because he loved the poor and the needy,” Wendy announced to the crowd who were there for the dedication.

She had come to Cambodia to bless the Hug Cambodia Ministry (HCM), HCM’s leader Petros, and the villagers the team would visit. To her amazement, she received the blessing of having her father honored at the dedication. Marlou Barredo, a regional director for Southeast Asia at Advancing Native Missions, had arranged the prior construction of the well and its dedication to be a blessing to her friend, Wendy, who had recently lost her father.

The blessing continued as Wendy watched Petros and her husband share the Gospel with the villagers attending the well and toilet dedications and multiplied when she saw many respond that they wanted to accept Jesus as their Savior. Many responded positively to the Gospel in each village. They also celebrated the refreshing, clean water and better sanitary conditions. To Wendy’s joy, she was able to pump water and see the delight of the children splashing fresh water on their faces. When she returned home, Wendy advocated for more wells with her family and friends. So far, she has raised additional funds for four wells.

Christian Missions in Asia-Cambodia

Wendy’s experience in that village is just the beginning of how God has been working through Hug Cambodia Ministry and Petros partnering with ANM during the past year. Marlou Barredo and her husband, Bo Barredo, Co-Founder and Global Ambassador for ANM, attended a conference a year ago in Laos, where they first met Petros and urged him to partner with ANM. He did, and together, they have planted several churches in Cambodia. Petros also does a prison ministry and has a school for children. In the year since HCM became a partner with ANM, Petros and his team have accomplished many projects to help share the Gospel with indigenous people who have never heard of Jesus before.

Success or Failure of a New Ministry Partner

Marlou went as the Regional Director to assess the work HCM has completed since partnering with ANM. She was happy to report that HCM, under the leadership of Petros, has accomplished many projects to help share the Gospel with unreached people. Aside from reaching other minority tribes, he is mainly working with the Khmer people group, which is the majority people group in Cambodia and is mostly unreached. According to the Joshua project only .40% are Christians.

Petros previously shared with Marlou that his dream for the past ten years has been to have a ministry center where he could train more pastors to plant churches in villages of unreached people. He also wanted a missionary lodging home where missionaries could stay during training. With Bo and Marlou advocating, they raised funds, and both buildings were built. Petros was a contractor before becoming a Christian, so he has the skills to construct buildings efficiently, soundly, and at a low cost. In the past, he and his congregation built his church and home using his skills and their labor. He was able to erect both buildings at a minimal cost because pastors and church members did the labor. Even the children contributed by carrying gravel and sand in buckets.

Petros was excited to share that they plan to use the ministry center for the children’s school, prayer meetings, and fellowship meetings. The children had been meeting in the church, but the ministry center will be a better facility and the school will be able to accept more children. It is exciting to know that Petros’ training sessions and the children’s school will use the building.

Wells and Toilets Dedicated

Petros also requested funds to dig wells where fresh, clean water had not been available and to build community toilets to help with sanitation in villages. The wells and toilets are a practical way to show the villagers that the God Petros shares about loves them and is concerned about their needs. Again, with Bo and Marlou advocating, ANM sent funds, the wells were dug, and toilets were constructed. Twenty water wells and 13 community toilets have been completed so far. The dedication of two wells and three toilets took place during the visit of Bo and Marlou and their mission team last March.

Children Receive Blessings

As if this were not enough, the team from ANM decided to raise funds to give school supplies to the more than 100 children who attended Petros’ church and school. Most of the children have parents working in nearby Thailand as construction workers. The children live with their grandparents or older siblings. The parents receive little pay, so the school supplies given by the team were greatly needed. The free feeding program the school offers helps the children to get the proper nutrition. The team also gave gifts and snacks to the children in each village where a well or toilet was dedicated.

Three Hundred Christian Convicts Receive Gifts

Petros planned for the team to visit the prison where he ministers to the 300 young convicts who are now Christians because of his ministry. Again, funds were sent ahead of time to purchase soap, shampoo, large towels, and a Bible for each inmate who had accepted the Lord. It was exciting to learn that more than a third of the 800 prisoners had been saved and were being discipled. One lady inmate asked about churches in the city where she will live after being released in a month. It was encouraging to realize she wants to continue growing in her faith, and it confirmed the sincerity of the inmates who have accepted Jesus as their Savior.

Training the Saved Prisoners

Petros shared with Marlou that he has a group of saved prisoners with whom he meets regularly. He believes that they have the potential and the dedication to study God’s Word and become leaders of the rest of the born-again prisoners. Petros meets with 28 male inmates, and his wife Hannah meets with two to four female inmates to disciple them. He desires to go to the prison regularly, but he needs travel funds since the prison is a half-hour drive away. Petros also likes to take a sack of rice to provide for the needs of the prisoners as the government does not supply enough food for them.

A Short-Term Mission Trip to Encourage

Marlou, Bo, Pastor Lindsay Ellis, his wife Wendy Ellis, Pastor David and Vandee Ropkhop of Laos, and Jerry Harding of Operation Barnabas International (OBI) were the short-term missions team that visited Petros and HCM in Cambodia for the well and toilet dedication. They also went to encourage and equip missionaries and bless villagers. Marlou led the team to Cambodia with the intention of dedicating some of the community toilets and wells funded by ANM. The wells and public toilets meet the basic needs of the villagers, show the love of God, and open the door for the missionaries to share the Gospel, which Petros and the ANM team did at every dedication. Many villagers raised their hands to receive Jesus as their Savior. The team was also in Cambodia to hold an Operation Barnabas International (OBI) conference, with Jerry Harding leading, to encourage 44 HCM pastors and their wives.

Ten-Year Dream Fulfilled

In April of 2024, Petros will hold his first-ever training for pastors and missionaries. There are 27 people registered to stay at the missionary lodge and attend training at the new training center. With training, the pastors and missionaries will be prepared to reach more villages with the Gospel and plant churches to reach the Khmer people and other unreached groups. Petros continues to work and dream of new ways to reach those who have never heard the name of Jesus. Marlou was pleased with the progress he has made in his partnership with ANM.

She commented, “You know, Brother Petros really has a special place in the heart of God. God truly loves this young man because he had his dreams fulfilled and made to come true all at the same time instead of by phases.”

You Can Help

You can support missionaries like Petros, who are going to the next village to share the Gospel for the first time with Khmer and other tribes. There are still 7,000 unreached people groups waiting to hear about Jesus. Will you help send a missionary by giving today?

Send funds today to spread the Gospel to the next village.