Mennonite Central Committee’s newest program for 18- to 20-year-olds offers six months of service, discipleship training and cross-cultural sharing in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Starting in January, Seek program participants from around the world will stay in the Southeast Asian country, considering together what it means to live, love and serve like Jesus.
Seek is rooted in an Anabaptist reading of Scripture and involves Bible study, prayer, lectures and conversation.
“On graduating from high school, young adults are faced with the decision of ‘What next?’ ” said Charles Conklin, MCC representative for Cambodia. “Seek offers the opportunity to prepare for that decision by taking a pause and centering on Jesus by engaging in intentional discipleship among the global church.”
A cohort of six to 10 participants will live in a dormitory with Cambodian Christian youth, an arrangement that lends itself to dialogue and worship.
Seekers will learn what it is like to belong to the country’s Christian minority. Cambodian Christians were persecuted by the Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s. Many Christians were killed or left the country. Until 1990, churches in the primarily Buddhist nation had to worship in secret.
Through visits to Anabaptist, Catholic and evangelical churches, Seekers will come to understand how the church provided healing and hope in the aftermath of atrocity.
MCC partner organizations in Cambodia need English speakers to help with their education and communications efforts. Seekers may serve as English teachers or help to write and edit locals’ stories. Other opportunities will include working with peace clubs, leading Sunday school activities and photographing the work of partners.
In early 2023, the nine participants in the first Seek cohort served in Palestine. They did service projects like leading English lessons at the Lajee Center, a grassroots organization in Bethlehem’s Aida Refugee Camp. They took Arabic language lessons at the home of James and Joan Alty, who were serving as MCC Jordan, Palestine and Israel representatives.
The Altys’ idea for creating a program that incorporates spiritual growth into service work started in 2019, while they completed a previous assignment in South Africa.
The application deadline for the 2024 Cambodia program is Sept. 30.