The historical markers couldn’t be more symbolic. Here we were in the shadow of Angkor Wat conducting lessons in moral values that were largely derived from Christian theology to the descendants of that ancient Buddhist Empire. The park surrounding Angkor Wat was deliberately chosen, not by us, but by the recipients of our training who wished to break away from the barren and demoralising teaching of the past to give their communities new hope for the future.

And hope was what this training was all about. Hope that the communities of Cambodia would be able to meet not only the health challenges that they face, but the social and psychological and more importantly the spiritual changes that lie ahead. Those who work on the front lines of community work know that this holistic approach to community development is needed. We know as Christians that only cultural transformation can bring this about. And this has to happen at the personal level first.

Today’s lesson’s focused on developing this personal relationship with our ‘students’, most of whom are doctors, running clinics in various parts of the country. They have given up a week in their very busy schedules, not to have a vacation in the countryside, or at the beach, but to spend it listening to us teach them things that they hope will be useful as they try to meet the health needs of Cambodia. We have been encouraged by their response to what we have said and are praying that these series of lessons are going to be mulitplied in the near future.