Interesting people we met in Cambodia

Using their gifts to serve God and man

By Goldie Chong

Esther Ding

We met up with Esther Ding for breakfast in our hotel on our first day in Cambodia on 31 Aug. Esther has just celebrated her 20th year of ministry in Baray, a village about 3 hours’ bumpy ride from Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. She was first sent as a missionary to plant churches by DUMC in Malaysia.

Through her faithful labour of love and with the strong support from her mother church, twenty over churches were planted. But she eventually recognized the importance of helping the Cambodian believers to be independent and self- supporting. She then took the step to get out of her comfort zone, set out on her own to create work for her converts by starting a handicraft shop, tourist homestay, restaurant, student hostel, and lately a primary school.

She has just launched her autobiography which she is using to raise funds for the school. She firmly believes and practices sustainability for the livelihood of her converts under her care. We have visited her place several times, once with Tek’s Singaporean sophisticated siblings who were shocked when they were told that the anticipated sauna and massage was the rock and roll ride in the 3- hour car ride and the ‘resort’ accommodation was three double-beds in one big room with three fans.

For privacy there was mosquito netting around each bed. To make up for everything, the food from her restaurant was delicious, especially the sumptuous breakfast with homemade kaya. It is an experience never to be forgotten. Khmer homestay has since been upgraded with air-con rooms.

On another visit to Baray we brought an agriculturist Patrick Loo from Seremban to teach her farmers how to improve their crops. Patrick who recently retired from Rio Tinto where he specialized in fertilizers is keen to share his expertise in the third world. Because of her record of improving the lot of the poor, Esther has been given honorary citizenship in Cambodia which enables her to buy land and further improve their living conditions. In Baray children ask her: “Are you Jesus?” END

EstherEsther Ding (center) launching her book

esther ding's book photo
Esther Ding’s Autobiography

Soksan & Linat
This talented young couple is so passionate about helping improve families through their publication Light Times which they founded, published and edited that they gave up stable jobs and mortgaged their home to fulfil their calling. Because of our common interest in families and magazines we exchange ideas regularly. Our conference last year on “Marriage” & “Workplace Ministry” was sponsored by Light Times. Linat oversees the marketing of Light Times besides capitalizing on her gifting as a lecturer and facilitator of motivational talks to women. It was through them that we were introduced to Marilyn and Joseph Chan, another remarkable couple. END

                                            Linat, Soksan , Joseph, Tek, Goldie & May

Marilyn & Joseph Chan

Now in their 70s, they suffered through the Pol Pot atrocities, Joseph having escaped death because he was useful to the regime as a man of many talents, e.g. his fishing skill provided food for his hungry Khmer Rouge guards. Escaping the killing fields they walked to a refugee camp near the Thai border and were eventually selected and settled in US. They took up theological training and were eventually sent as missionaries by the US Global Board of the United Methodist church back to Cambodia.

Joseph is ordained and focuses on evangelization and church growth. Marilyn is responsible for “livelihood projects” including pig farming, silk weaving, basket weaving, vegetable farming,
sewing, fishing farming, etc. empowering women physically and emotionally.

Joseph & Marilyn chan's book

Their humanitarian and community work have been so numerous and outstanding that a book has been written about them.

They have donated a 7 hectare piece of land in Seam Reap to the Methodist Mission to build a centre for training in agriculture, pig, chicken, fish farming and dormitories for the students. We have connected Patrick Loo to them and prayerfully something good will eventuate. END
 Photo Left: Joseph & Marilyn’s book

Ong Teong Hoon

The OngsA few years ago when our brother-in-law Lim Hua Min the chairman of Phillip Capital Group heard we were going to Cambodia, he connected us with his representative in Kredit Micro-Finance, his micro-finance company in Phnom Penh. Ong Teong Hoon told us that when he retired and played golf every day for three months, though improving his handicap, he was bored to tears.

When he was offered the job in Phillip Securities in Singapore, he took it without hesitation without even discussing salary. Subsequently when he was asked to go to Cambodia to look after the micro-finance operation, he readily accepted the posting. He and his chairman are in alignment about ethical practices, the need for sustainability, i.e. must be profitable and a percentage of profits to be ploughed back into the community. In 2014 they bought over an existing commercial bank and went into banking, giving birth to Phillip Bank Cambodia.

Contribution to the community

Their partner in this micro-finance institution is World Relief, an international Christian NGO which has ministries among farmers, children, HIV patients/families, etc. They are ministered to in cell groups of which there are over a thousand with mainly locals in charge.

When Ong shared his story with our team over lunch we were impressed with how a retiree can have a fulfilling second career, doing what he has been trained for but with a different meaningful purpose to benefit others.

He states his personal mission statement,

I am using my 25 years’ experience in the banking industry to help Christian mission projects to be run on Christian ethical values as well as no- nonsense efficient business principles. I believe all projects must aim for sustainability and eventually be self supporting.

Hence in Ong we meet a new breed of business- missionaries – utilizing their gifts and experiences to spread the good news in the marketplace.  . END

Debbie Choy

Originating from Hong Kong and USA, Debbie serves girls and women who are abused and oppressed by providing spiritual and emotional counselling, healing, educational and vocational training to rebuild their lives. In 2010, Debbie Choy was sent out as a missionary to start a ministry for young female victims of human trafficking in Cambodia, a country which has one of the highest rates of human trafficking.

She has set up a school and centre Pleroma Home for Girls with social workers and volunteers to teach the girls English and drama and make handicraft products. A primary school in Phnom Penh Debbie Choywill start classes in October 2015 to provide educational opportunity for girls from poor families with the goal of raising general literacy and educational levels to put an end to the vicious cycle of poverty and illiteracy. END
Photo Left: Debbie Choy

See her website: Fullness in Christ fellowship



One Comment

  1. September 2015: Feedback from readers for ArticleInteresting people we met in Cambodia

    Kong Teik & Goldie

    Always find something interesting in your blog. The story on Ong Teong Hoon is the stuff of a providential God putting the pieces together, a testimony of his working things out as we commit to acts prompted by our faith. Sorry I missed your meeting with Geo but will pop in to visit your Saturday meet at G’fun in the near future. Praying for you both to continue to bear fruit in your ripe old age some distance away yet. Remember that our life span is 120 years as God appointed. Genesis 6:3.

    Steve Oh ~ Perth (

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