Joseph Hwa
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“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8


Cambodia 2021- located in the southern portion of South East Asia, bordered by Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos. It is a nation with a rich yet scarred history. A people known for their friendliness and hospitality, yet living with the not so distant memories of genocide. Predominantly Buddhist, they are a beautiful people with warm hearts and a passionate hope to be relevant in the current world and its future… According to the Joshua Project, 43.2% of the people groups in Cambodia are unreached. And according to a Cambodian based organization there is still 10,000 villages without a church. Yet, Christianity is fast growing and the Lord has the door wide open for the Gospel to be preached. Click here to read an article from Christianity Today on recent news and religious freedom in Cambodia; it’s a ‘modern-day miracle.’ 

Church planting has always been a passion that has driven me in ministry. Seeing Paul’s blazing example of transforming lives through the power of the Holy Spirit and planting churches in the least evangelized areas of the world – and reading of the breathtaking revivals and church planting movements in the last century – these have always stoked a fire in my heart ever since I first began to follow Jesus! (Philippians 3:17 “Brethren join in following my example…”)

God has called me to serve with New Life Fellowship – one of the most prolific church planting movements in Cambodian, and by God’s grace the most influential. God has called me to the province of Tbong Khmum, bordering Vietnam and with very few churches and fewer Christians.


In 2006 I met Jesus in a powerful and transformative way when I found myself in prison facing a life sentence. Even though I was attending the University of Southern California, the pain from my past drove me to associate with the Chinese gangs. But here in prison the seeds of the Gospel began to sprout as the soil of my heart was broken up. Jesus used those 11 years in prison to transform my life in a way that only He could through His loving kindness and grace. The Calling: I visited a brother in Christ in Cambodia in 2019 who had moved from the US and married a Cambodian sister. I flew into the capital city of Phnom Penh and took a van which seats about 12 people – packed with about 20 – to the oceanside province of Kep (pronounced “Kipe”). For about 4 days we explored the beautiful landscape, visited the fresh oceanside market, and worshiped in the local church. We spent the last day back in Phnom Penh walking the Mekong River and eating at the famed night market. As the plane took off the runway, there was a flood of emotions – as if I were leaving a people and place I had known and loved for years. The people of Cambodia were some of the most amazing I have met – poor yet so full of generosity, strangers yet so willing to enter into relationship. Reflecting back, they reminded me of orphans reaching out for belonging and significance – just how the Gospel reveals us to be without Jesus. I can imagine the Father’s heart for them (John 14:18 “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”)…  Two encounters I had stand out. One was with a group of 4 Buddhist boys in the van on the way back to the capital. Dressed in traditional orange Buddhist robes, they were boys who lived in the temple and were being groomed for service as monks. We spent an hour sharing our testimonies and doing our best to communicate the Gospel in ways that they could understand. All listened, yet one of the boys was really hearing – as if he longed for the life and love we spoke about. As they got off at their destination it tore my heart to leave them. Another was the pastor of the local church in Kep. In his mid 20’s he had gone through seminary training and was newly planting this church. We had several conversations and spent many hours together. The impression I had when I left was that his heart was longing for help, for love, for brothers and sisters from the worldwide church to know he was there – not forgotten. Ever since then God has been calling my heart back – something I would never have thought or imagined!



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