When we think of missionaries, we think of those who have been called overseas, but what about those who are called to their home country for ministry? What if that home country is one where Christianity is the minority religion? Titus Romdenh gives us a peek into his country, his story, and the challenges of his family’s call to Cambodia.
Story by Titus Romdenh
I did not have the privilege of growing up in a Christian home nor a Christian country. I was born into a family that has two religions—my father’s side is Catholic, and my mother’s side is Buddhist. So, since I was young, I went to both the Catholic Church and the Buddhist Temple (Pagoda), but I never went to the Protestant Church. That was until one day in 1999 when one of my friends invited me to go to the church, and I agreed to go with him. I remember that Sunday the pastor preached “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Immediately, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and convicted me that I am a sinner and that only the blood of Jesus Christ can redeem my soul and make my heart new again. There is no salvation or forgiveness in the Buddhist religion.
In early 2000, my pastor made an announcement about going to the Bible school. I had only been a Christian for a few months, and I did not even know what it meant to “follow God’s call” or “be in full-time ministry.” So, I prayed for six months to seek God’s will if He really wanted to use me in His ministry. Six months later, I went to Wesleyan Bible Institute (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). I faced many difficulties and challenges at WBI, but the Lord provided for my needs, sustained my physical and spiritual strength, and grew my faith. After graduating from WBI in 2004, I worked in the Bible school as a translator, English teacher, and Bible teacher for more than one year. In 2005, I was assigned to plant a new church in a new province (a rural area). I co-pastored that church until 2009. From 2009–2011, I was reassigned to restore and pastor a church that was dying. I pastored that church until the day I came to America in October 2011.
Evangelizing and sharing the Word of God with other people has been a part of my life since the very beginning of my new birth in Christ in 1999. I remember knocking at one house after another, walking from one rice field or one market to another, and talking with one motor taxi-driver and one monk after another, just to tell them about the love and salvation of Jesus Christ. The Lord had chosen me to be His servant long before I knew anything about Him (Jeremiah 1:5). By His grace, He has shaped, equipped, and transformed me to be a better servant of the gospel for present and future generations. My desire in this life is to serve Jesus Christ and bring more people into a knowledge of and relationship with Him.
In 2008, Jewel visited Cambodia for the first time. At the time, I was pastoring a church in a rural province that I had co-planted a few years earlier. She came with a team from Indiana Wesleyan University and visited my church. After believing for years that God had been calling her to Honduras, the Lord was softening her heart for Cambodia. To make a long and wonderful story much shorter, after 18 months of prayer, three trips to Cambodia, and many email exchanges, I proposed to Jewel in December 2010. We both knew that God was calling us into His ministry of evangelism and discipleship in Cambodia. After getting married in October 2011, we had plans to return to Cambodia quickly. However, the Lord did not open any doors for us. Instead, we felt like it was important for me to pursue U.S. citizenship while I was still holding a green card. (My green card would have expired once I was outside the States for a period longer than six months). During the two-year process of obtaining my U.S. citizenship, our daughter was born and I was able to obtain a BA in business management from IWU. In this period of waiting, from October 2011 to now, as we are anticipating moving to Cambodia in October 2017, the Lord has provided opportunities and relationships which have led to better empowering and equipping of our family for His ministry in Cambodia.
Humanly speaking, I do not want to go back to my country of Cambodia. I have established a very comfortable life in America. In Cambodia, poverty is prevalent, healthcare and education are threatened by corruption, and there are certainly safety concerns. Humanly speaking, I do not want to go back to Cambodia. However, spiritually speaking, God is calling, and I cannot ignore the call. Spiritually speaking, when God saved me from sin, He did not want me to just stay in my new, wonderful comfort zone (America). He wants my life and my hands to get dirty and be busy and be involved in spreading His grace (especially) to my own Cambodian people. Our ministry in Cambodia is called Urban Discipleship Planting. Our goal is to reach and disciple influential people and convert them to become Christ’s true followers.
After living in the United States for almost six years and becoming a citizen, there are many people who do not understand why I would choose to return to life in a third world country. My parents and brothers in Cambodia ask me, “Why would you leave your great life in America to come back to this country?!” My human nature questions it too, sometimes. I attend a great church, I married into a great family, and I have made great friends here. I love my life in suburbia Indiana with Jewel and our children. However, at the same time, I have never forgotten the call and the burden that God has put in me for my people in Cambodia. The Cambodian people are still living in darkness, hopelessness, and helplessness. The country is 95 percent Buddhist and less than 3 percent Christian. The Word of the Lord often reminds me: “The harvest (in Cambodia) is plentiful but the workers (in Cambodia) are few.” I am just so grateful to the Lord that He has put and kept in me a desire to return to my homeland and to work for His kingdom. I long to see the day Cambodia is not a Buddhist country anymore but a Christian country! When that day comes, may the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ be praised!
Titus is not alone in his passion to see the world changed for Christ. This is what World Gospel Mission is all about. WGM would love to help you find your calling to impact the world, whether it’s overseas or here in the U.S. To learn more or to find a ministry you can be a part of, visit wgm.org/serve.