A Journey To Cambodia
When we were first presented with the opportunity to move to Cambodia, it seemed impossible. How could we leave our lives in America? Both of us were entrenched in our careers, our community, and our responsibilities.
In 2012, we received a prayer email from Cambodia that talked about the need for jobs for women in Siem Reap. The NGO, a nonprofit entity, was looking for a married Christian couple to become general managers of a training center that would help women gain new skills and employment and heal from trauma.
We knew that if we did not take a leap of faith and accept the offer to move to Cambodia, we would regret it for the rest of our lives. We believed that God had taken all the skills, talents, and abilities He had ever given us and created this opportunity in Cambodia—an opportunity that we never would have imagined had it not been laid at our feet.
We realized that God was taking us out of our comfort zones in the United States to be “replugged” in Cambodia in a way that allowed us to apply our talents, skills, and passion where they were most needed.
A Look Back At Our Beginning
With a background in piano performance and orchestrating, Melissa was one of the music directors for the Crystal Cathedral, in Garden Grove, California, back in 2001. We first met when Matthew visited the cathedral as a guest musical artist.
After getting married and moving to Eugene in 2003, Melissa taught as an adjunct professor at Northwest Christian University (now Bushnell University), applying her talents and skills as a music professor for 10 years. During that time, she founded the university’s community choir. She also had a passion for sweet confections—ultimately starting her own business, The Sassy Cupcake. Matthew was the design manager and a co-owner of Wipf and Stock Publishers in Eugene, Oregon.
Once we understood what we were being called to do, we shared our plans with our friends and family, worked on fundraising, resigned from our jobs, sold almost everything we owned, handed over The Sassy Cupcake to a new owner, and found a loving home for our pups.
Our Ministry Work Continues
Having now lived in Cambodia for more than a decade, we can tell you that the experience has been both challenging and amazing. And we are thankful we’ve had the privilege to collaborate with so many amazing Cambodians.
The ministry work that we’re doing is still centered in Cambodia, focused on anti-trafficking. Instead of focusing on one organization, we are advising and troubleshooting with multiple NGO leadership teams both in Cambodia and the United States.
We are working on several translation projects of anti-trafficking prevention material to be distributed countrywide. Matthew has time set aside for discipling and mentorship of some Cambodian men, and to develop trainings focused on needs within anti-trafficking organizations.
Melissa is focusing her time and efforts working with Khmer church musicians and their music teams. She is also providing private, scholarship-based music lessons for Cambodians.
We watch with great anticipation, seeing Christ continue to move in Cambodia, and together, with His church, envision an end to human exploitation and the continued transformation of those recovering from trauma.