SALT Lay Training
Cambodia banned Christianity until 1988. Despite the ban, God was reaching His Cambodian people in the refugee camps in Thailand. Many thousands turned to Christ and received salvation. Many of these moved to a third country, but others returned to Cambodia to begin a new life. In preparation for the repatriation of refugees in 1992/93, the Seventh-day Adventist church developed a program of training Cambodian Laymen to become evangelists on their return to Cambodia. By the time repatriation took place, the Cambodian government had granted religious freedom to the Cambodian people opening the door for the evangelizing of Cambodia.
The Cambodian soil was ripe for the Gospel, resulting in rapid growth of the church in a very short time. While a miracle and a blessing this growth also created a problem. The Cambodian people are primarily Buddhist/Animist. The gulf between the traditional Cambodian religious practice and Christianity is vast. The new Christians had an incredible steep learning curve in order to become solid Christians and the number of trained Bible teachers was limited.
In 1995, Tim Maddocks heard Godâ€™s call to establish a Lay Training center to which Seventh-day Adventist Christians could come to live and practice a Christ-like lifestyle while learning the deeper truths of Godâ€™s word. Wat Preah Yesu, located in Siem Reap, Cambodia is the result of this call. The first lay-training program began in July 1998 with 20 students. The model adopted for training was one of servitude and simplicity, where whole families would come to train together for four months. Training focuses strongly on helping the Layperson to know God and experience living in Godâ€™s presence as well as doctrine and evangelistic methods. Training is conducted by Tim Maddocks, Cambodian Adventist Mission Departmental Leaders and Union departmental Leaders. In addition the laypeople receive a basic health course designed and taught by Wendy Maddocks (or volunteer health professionals), to help them minister to the sick as Christ commanded.
The 12 training programs now conducted have seen more than 400 people participate. These people have provided a pool of lay evangelists to fill Pioneer Church Planting positions. The result is that God has opened every province in Cambodia to His last day message. This fruit of the laymen trained in the program are the new students joining the present lay training programs.
The Laypeople attending the training, have there their living expenses and study materials paid for by SALT Ministries. It costs SALT Ministries about USD 300 per student to attend the four-month course. Teachers and students sit on the floor, modeling the kind of training that is sustainable in the villages when the laypeople return to their homes. The diet is a vegetarian diet, of locally available foods, cooked by the students themselves and eaten communally. Accommodation is communal for singles and in small houses for families.
God has worked powerfully through these training programs to plant His love deep in the hearts of the Lay people who have attended, helping to provide for stability and growth in His Cambodian church. The programs are operated in faith, depending on God to provide the spiritual inspiration, and the financial resources for training. In keeping with SALT Ministriesâ€™ mandates, trainings are started in faith that God will provide. We Praise His name that He has never failed us!