Within 48 hours of saying yes to this unexpected assignment, the flights were booked, and I was given a crash course on what the IMPACT team would be doing in Cambodia.

God can call us unexpectedly to the unlikeliest of places, no matter how prepared or unprepared you feel yourself to be.

I learned this recently when I was asked to step in at the last minute to help lead the Cambodia IMPACT trip due to the illness of one of the assigned leaders.

Within 48 hours of saying yes to this unexpected assignment, the flights were booked, and I was given a crash course on what the IMPACT team would be doing in Cambodia, along with what my responsibilities and duties would be. The rest of the team had gone through weeks of training leading up to this, and here I was, literally about to go through a trial by fire with zero preparation. Like I said… God can call us unexpectedly to the unlikeliest of places, no matter how prepared or unprepared you feel yourself to be.

Every IMPACT trip starts with traveling to the designated location, and the transit time helped me get acquainted with the students on the team. They were from different grades and backgrounds, with unique personalities and skills, but all with one common goal of sacrificially taking time out of their mid-semester break to answer the call to serve.

I learned that this was Dalat’s first time partnering with the Cambodian arm of the ministry Operation Mobilization (OM). To be frank, prior to this trip, I had not given much thought to Cambodia and its people. A cursory Google search revealed it to be a country of roughly 15 million Khmer people, with an estimated 83% of the population being Buddhist. What Google failed to show me was the striking economic inequality the people live in, which the team and I were about to see once we touched ground and got to work.

OM had planned and organized our week of ministry activities. Our days started early, with breakfast and a time of devotion before going over the plan for the day. Most days, we had long drives to the provinces outside the capital, where we engaged in outreach that included presenting skits with a gospel message, organizing games, leading arts and crafts sessions, and distributing food supplies to both parents and children alike. Throughout the week of planned service activities, the team got to see firsthand the many impoverished communities both within Phnom Penh and surrounding communities. It was quite eye-opening to see things such as a luxury car dealership located right across the train tracks from where a slum community is located, or even a well-known municipal rubbish dump where both adults and children alike search through the mountain of refuse for recyclables to be sold.

All that I have experienced on this trip has led me to believe that it was no small coincidence that God purposefully led me here, as well as the students on our team. In that week of seeing and serving, God showed us that there is a need to go out and serve His people.

Despite feeling unprepared for the week, I believe that God truly guided and enabled me to do the things I thought I wasn’t capable of. I also got to see the team go above and beyond in their service, willing to step in and step up to whatever was required of them, whether that was to help load sacks of rice onto vans, hand out packed food to the neighborhood children, or spend hours perfecting a skit on the story of Easter to share the gospel.

It takes great courage to answer God’s direct call to serve, and I have no doubt that the students on the team have proven that greatly. I am looking forward to next week’s IMPACT-focused chapel and the different stories that will be shared. As I close my recollections, I leave you with the questions I pondered throughout my trip:

Where is God calling you today, and how will you answer Him?

Photos by: Ailee Chan, Sophia Coker, Aileen Kim, and author
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