Worship in the Hard Places: Gospel Movement Among the Youth of Cambodia [Video]

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The Hard Places Community (HPC) in Phnom Penh was founded in 2008 to reach out to at-risk children in Cambodia.

In 2013, CRM staff member Alice Collier began partnering with HPC to start a School of Worship that would provide a safe place for children to experience the healing power of God’s love through worship.

Today, these Cambodian youth are forming the foundation of a new movement of prayer and worship that is changing the spiritual landscape of their country.

Watch this video to hear the rest of the story...

Alice: Psalm 8:2 says that God has ordained worship to come out of the mouths of little ones that will silence the enemy. And I really believe that their worship is loosening the ground and preparing the ground for revival. Not just in Cambodia, but all over Southeast Asia.

The mission of the School of Worship is to bring Cambodian street children into the presence of God, where they can encounter his love and be transformed. It’s a place where they can come in and learn to play guitar, keyboard, drums, and learn some songs—some Khmer worship songs—and really learn, “What is worship.”

Before I ever came to Cambodia, the Lord showed me a picture in prayer of a prayer and worship movement that flowed over the boundaries of Cambodia and into the surrounding nations. And I really believe that this component, this prayer and worship component, of a movement is really paving the way.

So this is already starting to happen inside this center, and inside this school of worship. So the next step is what happens when this hits the streets. You know, what happens when Jesus is walking down the street, and encountering the children on the street and the families on the street? I just keep hearing the heart of the Father say that, “The river rushes to the lowest places.” And we’re going to see his encounter in the lowest places in the city where the staff are going out on the streets, and now the children are going out on the streets. They’re out at night sharing the gospel with children, teaching them songs, teaching them how to pray because of what’s been stirred up in their hearts inside this building.

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Seanghiy is a Cambodian leader who I have seen God put his fire on. He’s faithful, he loves the Lord. He loves the kids—Seanghiy loves the kids. He really has a vision to see a move of God happen in this area that would transform this whole riverfront area.

Seanghiy: My name is Seanghiy. When I came to Christ, I learned about worship. Now I play guitar, and I like to sing and praise God. I believe God has called me in the area of worship, and playing music to praise him. Vibol is one of my former discipleship students. We love to hang out together. He is patient and gentle, and good at leading worship.

Alice: It’s fun to watch Vibol and Seanghiy hang out together like brothers. You can tell that they just really love each other, and they look out for each other, and that they have these similar life experiences where they’ve seen God move in amazing ways. So they really understand each other, and they understand the heart of the Father to transform other children as well.

Vibol: My name is Vibol. I am 17 years old, and I live in Phnom Penh. I feel God’s pleasure over me when I play with the kids, and spend time with them on the street. When I help them and protect them, I feel God’s blessing. In kid’s club, sometimes the kids will fight, and I tell them to be gentle, and I teach them about gentleness. I also feel such pain for the at-risk kids. When we do kids’ club, we play with them, sing with them, we pray with them, and we teach them Bible verses. When we teach them, they sit down and focus on what we teach. Sometimes they ask us questions like, “Who is God? What is his name?”

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Alice: I really feel that Cambodia is primed for a move of God right now, and that he is going to use these children. And the role of Hard Places in this is investing in the future leaders of this country. 70% of Cambodia is under the age of twenty-five, and so these kids are the future leaders. And if we get to pour into these children, we get to pour into the future of Cambodia.

Seanghiy: During night outreach, I go to see the parents of the kids. Many of them collect trash on the street, so I talk to them and help them collect trash. Sometimes I just listen to the parents and pray for them. Sometimes I chat with the kids and pray for them. Our main goal is to protect the kids, so if there is something suspicious, we try to get information and report it to the investigators.

Alice: As Vibol and Seanghiy spend time with the Lord, as they wait on him, as they ask him, “What’s your dream? What’s your heart? What do you want to see happen here?” I see that God is putting a bigger vision in their hearts.

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You know, it’s great to be here as a missionary, but I know that God has got to give the vision to the Cambodian people. And I see Seanghiy really stepping out in faith, in his prayers, and when he talks about what he sees something much bigger happening—a church plant in this area. He talks about how, yes, we are already seeing a shift because of prayer out on the riverfront. God is leading them to children who need to be protected. God is exposing the work of the enemy, and less violence and less darkness is happening out on the streets because of their prayers. But something even bigger than that, a gospel movement that would transform this area, and then begin to seep out into all of Cambodia.

Seanghiy: I believe God is real. He changed me, and lifted me up from the pit, and restored my life.

Vibol: I want the whole city to come to know Christ. I want them to hear more about Jesus. And I want them to learn how to worship him.

Seanghiy: I hope to see revival in Phnom Penh, and all the strongholds broken.

Vibol: God, I pray for the kids, that you would protect them, strengthen them, and give them wisdom. Lord, I pray that you would change their life, and that they would come to follow you. Please, God, protect them, and put your angels around them.

Seanghiy: I want to see our worship reaching the broken and the hopeless people. I want them to be free. The sick will be healed, the broken hearted will have hope, and they will all start to praise God.

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“Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” Psalm 8:2 (NIV)


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.