Anglican Church of Cambodia helps people suffering in lockdown

Anglican Church of Cambodia helps people suffering in lockdown

Newsletter, April 22, 2021

It’s the evening of the 8th day of lockdown in Phnom Penh.
This dear country has fought hard against Covid, and until February 20, it was winning, with no reported deaths due to Covid and less than 500 recorded cases. However, that streak was broken after a group bribed their way out of mandatory hotel quarantine and spread the virus widely.

Schools, churches, and public gatherings were promptly sent online again, after just a few months of meeting in person with extensive social distancing + masking requirements. As the situation proved steadily more difficult to control, progressively tighter restrictions were instituted, culminating in strict lockdown of the entire city. At this point, we may send one household member out of our apartment for groceries 3 times per week. Certainly, this is challenging.

For the poor, though, it is truly devastating. The day laborers whose jobs are temporarily eliminated have lost the income that buys their families’ daily food supply. Access is further complicated by market closures and government roadblocks. Children in homes without even a smartphone have no option to study remotely, and their education is jeopardized. Yet again, the marginalized suffer the most. Realizing all this, Gregory has worked very hard to connect the resources of the church with needs in the community, and thankfully we have been able to offer relief to 162 families so far.

Our hearts are so grieved. Please pray with us for Cambodia and especially for the poor. Lord, have mercy.

The Rev. Gregory and Dr. Heidi Whitaker are SAMS Missionaries sent by Church of the Resurrection, Wheaton, IL. They serve in Phnom Phen, Cambodia. Gregory and Heidi hope to see the Anglican Church of Cambodia continue to grow and expand and eventually develop into a diocese with churches, education, and work among the poor. They aim to see Cambodian Christian physicians growing in their practice of medicine, in their faith, and in being missional in their contexts. 

Note from Kate Ulrich, SAMS Communications Coordinator: In April, SAMS World Relief Fund provided a grant to the Whitakers and the Anglican Church of Cambodia of $3,000. The money is being used for food distribution among those suffering due to this outbreak. We invite you to provide further relief by giving to the the Whitakers’ Special Project Account . 100% of your gift will be committed to ministering to Cambodians. The SAMS World Relief Fund over the past year has granted more than $80,000 over 5 continents to come alongside the global Anglican church in mercy ministry. Thank you for your partnership in caring for our brothers and sisters around the world while sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.

Home in Cambodia again!

Home in Cambodia again!

Thanks be to God!
We are safely back in Cambodia, with one day remaining in our third 14 day quarantine in 5 months.  Let’s just say that we don’t recommend movement between countries during a pandemic!  While the summer had many encouragements, it was disappointing for us to miss out on connecting with supporters and churches.

The Lord gave us grace through a host of logistics to return to Phnom Penh.  First, we were able to obtain new visas through a church/business connection.  Second, the Cambodian government has rightly instituted a rigorous screening and entry process (the national case count is under 300, with no reported Covid-19 deaths, and they are committed to preserving that).  Here’s the short version: proof of insurance, cash deposit, pre-flight Covid tests, medical certificates, round two of testing in the airport on arrival, hotel quarantine while awaiting results, and round three of testing prior to the end of at-home quarantine.  We’re so thankful for all those who helped us through both sides of the process, from writing testing orders to dropping groceries at the door of our sublet.

Five days ago, just when we were about to get bored (ok, not really), the government announced that churches are allowed to reopen.  We arrived just in time!  After 6 months of online worship, this is welcome news, but it comes with a long list of mandated restrictions, including limiting attendance to adults only.  There’s much to negotiate, but we thank God for open doors to begin worshipping together and rejoice in the figuring out new ways to connect the CCOP church family.

Despite its low case numbers, Cambodia has been deeply affected by Covid-19, with the near shutdown of tourism and a dramatic decrease in garment factory work.  Our friends and church members who work in anti-trafficking tell us that they are seeing pronounced spikes in trafficking, particularly of children, due to increased economic hardship in impoverished families. Lord, have mercy.