Two Christian Reformed Church agencies have sent a letter to pastors and others, asking churches to give an offering and muster volunteers to help the Cambodian CRC in West Valley, Utah, recover from a fire that gutted its building in October.
The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) and Christian Reformed Home Missions (CRHM), together with churches in Utah, are asking U.S. congregations to take a special offering before May 2008.
The goal is raise up to $100,000 to demolish the burned shell of the church’s structure – an old house used for council meetings and Sunday school—and to pay for cleanup and construction of a new office building.
“We are so thankful for all of the prayers and support we are getting,” says Dee So, secretary of the congregation that meets for Sunday services at the First CRC in nearby Salt Lake City. “It is such a blessing that people are coming forward.”
Three young people have been charged with setting the fire that destroyed the house on the night of Oct. 24. The church had no insurance on the structure.
The Cambodian CRC, in partnership with congregations in the Salt Lake area, had been renovating the old house on about an acre of land along a busy highway in suburban West Valley City.
Before the fire church members, with the help of CRC youth groups from Utah and surrounding states, had torn out and moved walls, rewired the electrical system, and renovated spaces where the congregation could meet for classes, fellowship and prayer, says Pastor Charlie Phim, who started the church in 1984.
The Cambodian CRC hopes eventually to raise $500,000 to build a new sanctuary. “We are hopeful that we can do more fundraising,” says Phim. “We want to be able to eventually build a church for all of the Asian people of this area.”
Growth of the church, which has less than 100 members, has been slow because many of the Southeast Asians who settled in Utah grew up Buddhist, Phim says. But he says a new generation of young people is eager to learn about Jesus Christ.
Ny Ly, a Cambodian CRC member, came to the U.S. by way of Thailand to escape the Khmer Rouge in 1974. “We were realizing our dreams,” Ly says. “We are depending on God to find some way for us.”
If you or your congregation would like to volunteer to help with demolition or the construction of a new office building, please contact CRWRC Disaster Response Services at 1-800-848-5818,
To give a donation toward the demolition and restoration of the burned office building, please send offerings, designated “Cambodian CRC of Utah,” to CRWRC, 2850 Kalamazoo Avenue, SE, Grand Rapids, Mich., 49560. CRWRC will use any excess funds for other domestic disaster response projects.
For more information about volunteering with CRWRC Disaster Response Services, go to www.crwrc.org and choose Get Involved.