Wilson, Mark and Debra

We are the Wilson Family, Debra, Zach, and Mark. Our family’s relationship to Cambodia stretches back to 1994 when Debra first traveled there from her base in Chiang Mai, Thailand on a survey trip for the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC). At that time, Debra was single and worked for Reformed Church in America (RCA) but was seconded to CRWRC. Deb returned to Cambodia in 1995 with Mark (her new husband). Deb pioneered the work of CRWRC in Cambodia while Mark took up a position with Food for the Hungry (FH). During her time in Asia, Deb’s roles included serving as the Mainland Southeast Asia Program Developer and Cambodia Country Director (for CRWRC), and Program Director (with FH) for the coalition of local and international churches and Christian organizations, We Love Thailand, in response to the Asian tsunami. During his time with Food for the Hungry in Cambodia, Mark served as Programmes Manager, Country Director, and S/SE Asia Regional Director. During Mark’s tenure as Country Director, FH Cambodia, together with its partners, brought physical and spiritual healing to poor Cambodian communities through programs such as Agriculture, Child Development, Water and Sanitation, and Church Leadership Development. Prior to our return to Cambodia in July 2011, we spent five years back in the US where Debra served as the Housing Director for Good Samaritan Ministries (among other things), and Mark completed four years of study at Western Theological Seminary with the Reformed Church in America. In June 2010, Mark was ordained and our family was commissioned for our return to Cambodia. Why Cambodia? Nearly 20 years of continual war and violence, including the genocide of the Pol Pot regime which resulted in the death of an estimated 2 million people, has reduced Cambodia to one of the poorest nations in the world. The majority of Cambodia’s rural population continues to suffer from most of the inter-related problems associated with poverty. Our family believes that God is calling us to use the gifts, abilities and experiences that He has given us to respond to the needs in Cambodia. For Debra, this means that she is working on language and helping our family get settled during this first year. After that, she is open to whatever needs she can respond to with a focus on assisting FH partners promoting community development and working towards poverty alleviation. Mark is walking together with current and future leaders of the Cambodian Church. More specifically, Food for the Hungry is partnering with the Reformed Church in America (RCA), the Phnom Penh Bible School (PPBS) and the Theological Education by Extension Association Cambodia (TEEAC). In these partnerships, Mark is assisting PPBS and TEEAC in designing and implementing curriculum that helps pastors, lay leaders and students discover, understand, and carry out holistic forms of ministry in their local communities and the wider Cambodian society. Mark is hoping to contribute to the equipping and empowering of the Cambodian Church to become, as our home church in Holland puts it, “Care for the hurting, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, build homes for the homeless, wipe away the tears of the grieving, and lift the burdens of the broken, walk with the wounded, visit the imprisoned, go to the outcasts, find the forgotten, stand against injustice, carry the weak, run to the lonely, share the gospel with the lost, counsel the confused, speak up for the voiceless, encourage the depressed, comfort the sick, and pray with the grieving.” Mark will also be tasked with assisting both organizations to identify and raise up capable Cambodian women and men to serve in these roles in the future. On the personal side, we enjoy spending time with our son Zachary. Deb also likes to garden, Mark likes photography and computers, and Zach loves to read, play board games and swim.