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By Andrea Johnson

“We don’t want to think of ourselves as a small congregation that is generous, but rather a congregation that is serving a generous and mighty God.”

Last spring as I was gathering stories of generosity for our biennial convention report, I came across a statement I will never forget. It came from Rev. Somkong Vong, pastor of Lifesong Church of the Open Bible in Des Moines, Iowa. One would expect this little church to struggle from time to time and require some ongoing assistance. It was founded around 21 years ago by Mike and Dara Rasavanh, former refugees from Asia. Instead Lifesong excels at generosity at every level.

Lifesong’s congregation helps support a local high school, neighboring local organizations, and new refugees from Myanmar. They even allow the new refugees to use the church’s facilities to grow their own congregation. Perhaps the most impressive impact made by Lifesong Church of the Open Bible, though, is the Lifesong Learning Center in Tamada Village in Cambodia. Lifesong has led the effort in the village to build a learning center that includes a pre-school program, an after-school English education program for local youth, discipleship training, a well (providing water for the whole community), and an area for local youth to play and grow in a safe environment, protected from the lure of human trafficking.

This small church has accomplished these feats of generosity with few financial resources and a large amount of creativity. They host fundraiser meals (such as pork chop lunch and pho), potlucks, and other events. Within the congregation is an unspoken “all-hands-on-deck” attitude. Even family members who do not attend the church contribute to these efforts. Two of Lifesong’s members, Ly and Sarin Mak, fled to the U.S. in the late ’70s to escape the Killing Fields in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. Now they have returned to Cambodia as missionaries to help establish and run the Lifesong Learning Center. By the time this issue is printed, Lifesong’s former pastors, Mike and Dara Rasavanh, will be in Thailand serving as missionaries.

Pastor Somkong Vong leads these generous efforts even though she is currently battling cancer. Her statement that stuck with me? “We don’t want to think of ourselves as a small congregation that is generous, but rather a congregation that is serving a generous and mighty God.”

How generous and mighty is your God?

About The Author

Andrea Johnson
Managing Editor

In her spare time you will most likely find Andrea Johnson with family or friends, or outdoors hiking. She and her husband, Dennis, are blessed with four children and five grandchildren.