CRM / Novo is a band of creative missionaries; determined, innovative, and responsive to the Spirit. We are sent to multiply movements of the gospel and to mobilize the church for mission. In everything we do, our hearts look forward to the day when all will be made new. Novo, it means ‘to make new.’
One of the stories that exemplifies this vision to multiply movements in creative ways, featured in CRM / Novo’s introduction video (see below), is a gospel movement in Asia: In Cambodia, when our staff saw that children living on the street loved to worship, they started a worship school. Now these youth have become musicians and leaders, bringing hope to the places they call home.
CRM / Novo shared a special video about this worship movement on the streets of Cambodia in 2017, but the movement didn’t stop there. It has expanded to other cities and flowed into a new youth church plant, where some of these youth are leaders.
Watch the Original Video Here...
How the Movement Has Expanded
In the video, CRM / Novo staff Alice shares that 70% of Cambodians are under the age of 25. “These kids are the future leaders.” Investing in them is investing in the future of Cambodia. Here are some of the exciting ways these kids have impacted their nation in just a couple of years.
A Church and Youth Center to Disciple the Future Leaders
When CRM / Novo staff started the School of Worship seven years ago, they didn’t anticipate how much these kids would grow and hunger for deeper discipleship and community. Those initial kids (10–12 year-olds) have grown as disciples and leaders. They’ve also grown up.
Teenagers in Cambodia face intense pressures, especially those that live in poverty or on the street. There are few positive activities for these teens to get involved in. However, there are ample opportunities to spend time in pornography shops.
Every month the joyful sounds of worship would draw older teens to the Hard Places Community Center, which housed the School of Worship. “Can I learn?” they would ask. But they had to be turned away because of their age; Hard Places Community is designed especially for younger children, who are uniquely vulnerable to harm on the streets, and doesn’t have the resources and staff to accommodate older teens. These teens needed their own place to belong and find refuge. They needed a youth center and a church community.
Our CRM / Novo staff Alice saw the need and started praying, as did many other people.
An answer came from an unexpected place: another organization that focuses on church planting asked if they could partner in the city somehow. They felt a growing burden for Phnom Penh! Staff at Hard Places Community responded to their inquiry with excitement: “Yes, please come! We need a church plant here. We’re too busy to plant a church, but we need a church here.” So they sent in trained interns to plant a church.
The School of Worship partnered with them. Vibol, a teenager featured in the CRM / Novo video, has become the worship pastor for the church. Another youth from the soccer program (also founded by and overseen by CRM / Novo)stepped up as a youth pastor. The church leaders excel at inviting the Cambodian youth into larger leadership roles as soon as they display responsibility and commitment. The youth not only have a community to be part of, but a place to grow in maturity and leadership in the body of Christ!
The church quickly outgrew the space at Hard Places Community. The School of Worship and church plant began to pray. And as they prayed, things began to get really clear. We’re better together. Let’s do this together.
They found a building together that would meet the needs of the growing youth church and also house a youth center and the School of Worship. This was a place that would be just for teens in the same way that Hard Places Community was just for kids—their special place.
An Expanded Impact in the Capital City
The new center is in the Art District, near an art museum and the Art University—perfect for a school where kids are learning to play musical instruments! It is on the outer edge of the vulnerable neighborhood where Hard Places Community is located. As a result, the youth church has started to draw a big mix of kids—those with really broken backgrounds, and those with intact lower-middle-class families from the surrounding areas. Because of this new location, the youth church and the School of Worship have a bigger influence than ever before! People are coming from all around the area, and God is adding numbers to the youth—including some youth that had left the School of Worship and are now coming back!
The new center overlooks the Royal Palace, an area where the School of Worship has done intense intercession for the safety of kids in the past. Alice senses that God is giving the School of Worship a new level of authority to push back the darkness in the city. The School of Worship has become more strategic in everything they do, including strategic prayer walks through this key area of the city each week.
A Local House of Prayer
The church and School of Worship have a joint vision to launch a 24-7 House of Prayer. They’ve begun meeting for two hours each morning for worship and intercession. Two days a week, youth from the School of Worship lead the intercession, praying specifically for the young people of Cambodia.
A New School of Worship
Last year, CRM / Novo staff Alice took a group of kids from the School of Worship in Phnom Penh to another large city in Cambodia, Siem Riep, to plant a new School of Worship there. That school is being led by local teenagers. A group of staff and students from the original School of Worship in Phnom Penh travel to Siem Riep regularly throughout the year, developing the youth leaders in the new School of Worship. Every week, the teens leading the Siem Riep school go out into the slums to worship with the kids there. They are impacting a few hundred kids every week through their music and intercession.
Reflecting on the way the movement has deepened and expanded, Alice speaks with conviction: “Everything we’re seeing happen right now is related to lifting the darkness through worship.” Worship is a key strategy God gave to bring transformation in Cambodia. Worship has opened doors to new collaboration between organizations, especially through many groups partnering with the House of Prayer. Worship has created opportunities for more of Cambodia’s most vulnerable kids and youth to encounter Jesus in powerful ways, and more youth are giving their lives to Jesus as a result. Now they are the ones leading the charge to bring hope and healing to their nation.
Alice Collier lives and serves in Phnom Penh with her husband and their three children. She helped to birth a school of worship among street children and is a champion for the children’s prayer movement in Cambodia.