The McPhails' burden is to help start and encourage a strong Bible-believing and indigenous church-planting movement throughout the area through church planting and training leaders by the grace of God.
Their family arrived with a burden for pioneer church planting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in the fall of 2000. For two years, while studying the language and culture, they were a part of a church-planting team in Phnom Penh and in villages to the south of the city.
In the fall of 2002, after they made several survey trips around Cambodia, the Lord led them to begin work in Pursat province. Pursat is a western-central province with mostly rice paddies to the east and mountains to the west. Its 450,000 people are almost entirely unevangelized with far less than 1% of the population claiming any form of Christianity as its faith. The city of Pursat has a population of about 70,000. It appears that the McPhails are the first foreign missionaries to ever have lived and labored in that province. They have been privileged to have as their co-laborers the Seawright family, who joined their ministry there in 2005 and worked with them until early 2010. In 2010 the Lord led the Michael Carlyle family to work with the McPhails in Pursat province.
Though there were several opportunities of discipling some professed Christians, including two families involved in church planting, visible fruit from evangelism was not forthcoming until March of 2006. By the end of 2006, the Lord had given them the joy of leading a number of people to Christ. The Inheritance in Christ Church in Pursat city has continued in the Lord. In 2010 two deacons were elected to serve at ICC. One of these, Put Vorak Kunthy, was ordained and asked to become the pastor in 2011. ICC is now a fully indigenous ministry.
Michael and Julie Carlyle continued to encourage the ministry of ICC in Pursat and a church plant in the Ta Lo district for another couple of years after the McPhails relocated their ministry.
The McPhails relocated to the northeastern province of Oddar Meanchey, bordering Thailand, in 2014. Oddar Meanchey was still under the direct political control of the remaining Khmer Rouge forces until 2005. Since then the area there, which was little more than wilderness and a constant war zone for decades, has been rapidly developing. Once again, the Lord gave them the privilege of laboring where foreign missionaries never lived.
Since it is a new province, it has drawn many people from all over Cambodia to live and work there. Cambodians who are originally from the area speak a somewhat different dialect than most of Cambodia. Casinos dominate the border crossings of O'Smach and Anlong Veng. Casinos are illegal in Thailand and other countries in Asia, so Cambodia capitalizes on the vice, particularly on its borders.
While living in the small city of Samroang, they sought to ground the few existing groups of professed believers there in the Gospel and disciple men as God opened doors, which He did.
Ongoing health issues forced the McPhails to reconsider their modus operandi, so they moved to the city of Siem Reap in 2016 in order to seek physical recovery and God’s direction. The Lord led them to pray about coming alongside other missionaries who are pursuing the same goals of ministry. As of August 2016, the McPhails will be laboring alongside other missionaries, the Michael Freeze family, in the Svay Rieng province. The Freezes are striving to start a church there. Svay Rieng borders Vietnam in southeastern Cambodia.
During the decades of conflict with the Vietnam War, the Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia, and the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia, Svay Rieng province served as the military highway for American, South Vietnamese, Vietcong, Khmer Rouge, and other military factions. Svay Rieng also has a casino boom-town on the Vietnamese border about a 30-minute drive from Svay Rieng town.
God has begun to work in Cambodia, and the Lord has been raising up laborers for this harvest field, but this is still a pioneer work. There are precious few qualified Cambodian pastors, and churches are usually quite small. A movement of indigenous Cambodian churches is still in the future, but the seed of the Gospel is being sown like never before!
To view Forrest and Jennifer McPhail's photo gallery, click the picture below.