Marilyn Sovann Chan is a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church serving in Phnom Penh, Cambodia since 1998 as women and music ministry coordinator of the Methodist Mission in Cambodia.
She promotes the organizational development of Methodist women in Cambodia by seeking opportunities for exposure and training related to local and international women’s groups. Her responsibilities relate to a group of “livelihood projects,” including pig farming, silk weaving, bamboo basket weaving, vegetable farming, sewing, fish farming, and hammock making. She seeks mission partners that encourage women’s empowerment in the areas of physical and emotional health and spiritual growth.
The Methodist Mission in Cambodia is jointly sponsored by five Methodist mission agencies based in North America, Europe, and Asia. It is moving toward the achievement of an autonomous Cambodian Methodist Church.
Born in the Kralanh District in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia, Marilyn was the third of seven daughters and completed high school in Phnom Penh in 1974. The following year, her family was forced from their home and enslaved by the Khmer Rouge. After living and working in the jungle for four years, Marilyn, together with her husband, Joseph, also a missionary, escaped to Thailand following the Vietnamese overthrow of Cambodia. After meeting a group of Christians in their refugee camp, Marilyn became a Christian and was baptized in December of 1979. While still in the refugee camp, she became active in Bible study, worship, and faith-sharing with others, and volunteered as a clerk in the CARE feeding center.
Marilyn came to the United States in 1982, where she lived in New York City and Richmond, Virginia before settling in Stockton, California with Joseph. Resuming her education, Marilyn earned an Associate of Arts degree and certificate in early childhood education from Delta College in 1990, and a Bachelor of Science degree in theology from San Jose Christian College in 1991. She worked as a bilingual aide in the Stockton Unified School District and was a Sunday school teacher for Cambodian children at Central United Methodist Church in Stockton. She has also completed the United Methodist Local Pastor’s Training Course and the Disciple Bible Study I (Trainer’s Course).
In 1995, Marilyn was a member of a fact-finding team organized by the General Board of Global Ministries and sent into Cambodia to explore the possibility of establishing United Methodist congregations in that country. Of her current ministry, Marilyn says: “Daily I thank God for choosing me to serve. I believe this is a call from God to serve Christ by sharing the truth by building trust, hope, and love. I joyfully and faithfully accept it.”
Marilyn and Joseph have three children: a son, Nyda, and two daughters, Sodani and Christina. Marilyn is a member of Central United Methodist Church in Stockton.
: California-Nevada Annual Conference
, Louisiana Annual Conference
, New York Annual Conference
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