How Leading by Faith is Changing Cultural Norms
Come with me across the world to Cambodia, where we can bear witness to the leadership Jesus modeled to us as followers of God’s word. Miss Koam Trok is a 42 year old woman living in the Rohal Village located in Ta Siem commune is pioneering a path for women in her community. Prior to Food for the Hungry (FH) Cambodia entering the community she was a church leader, but lacked the basic training and understanding of proper hygiene, sanitation, agriculture, and biblical worldviews. Koam, a natural born leader, did not hesitate when FH stepped into the community to offer services. She took advantage of all the opportunities to FH Cambodia had to offer and participated in bible studies, agriculture classes, and raised her awareness of health and disaster risk reduction.
Let us pause and consider how Jesus led the way for us.
We have been taught to walk like Jesus but what does that look like? Jesus was a spirit-led leader which was reflected in the way He served with humility. Jesus shared responsibility and authority with those He called to lead. He was a risk taker. He built a team to carry out a vision worldwide. As we know, He was perfect in all of His ways. Let us read about His leadership in John 13:13-17.
” You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an examples that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
Why is this so important?
Cambodian gender roles are very clear in that women do not fill positions of leadership. In fact, women are taught from a young age that they are to be silent, and they can only do physical labor after sunset and must be hidden. Why is this so important to know?
In developing knowledge regarding holistic ministry and development, Koam was a frontier in gathering a group of church members in her community. They pulled together to help build a house for one of the church members, in broad daylight. In addition, she facilitated a resource drive to gather goods for a widow in the community that lost everything after her home burned down. Koam has single handedly prepared meals for her congregation. She has set the standard for servant leadership in the Rohal Village. As one community member states, ” Koam serves from the bottom of her heart without complaining.”
Taking Notes and Leading by Faith
It looks like Koam has been taking notes and putting them into action in the ways our great leader Jesus Christ did. She began as a church leader but she didn’t stop there. Koam amplified her behaviors to match the level of gifting the Lord called her to exemplify. She is a risk taker, in bending the gender roles and being a role model of what a strong woman of faith looks like. Koam is respected and valued not only by the women, but by the men in the community and FH staff. There is no doubt that she will continue to develop personally and share her knowledge with the younger generations.
It is no small feat to break down innate cultural barriers the way Koam has been able to do. Her leadership is unmatched. With the support from FH Cambodia she now has the resources to flourish and build up those around her. You can support other ground breaking visionaries like Koam.