Refuge for the Poor (RTP) is a non-profit ministry that provides safe communities and loving discipleship that break the cycle of poverty and sex-trafficking among the poor of Cambodia.

Vitchika, one of the first sponsored students, is now graduated, married and raising a daughter while she and her husband work at a school.

Breaking the cycle of poverty

These sisters are now pre-teens and continue to be cared for in our dormitory

Cycles are often self-reinforcing: a child is forced to quit school in order to work in the field or in the factories and sweat shops to aid in the family’s hopeful release from poverty. Without an education, the grown child then can only find manual labor work with poverty-level pay. When their own children arrive, there are more mouths to feed and once the little ones are old enough they, too, are forced to stop school and help make money for the family.

This is a simplified scenario and education isn’t the only answer, but in Cambodia, we’ve seen again and again how help at the right time and in the right way can break these chains!

Refuge for the Poor helps the very poor student by providing a safe community where they can be educated, learn about health, hygiene and visit an experienced doctor. (In Cambodia, “doctors” rarely have proper medical training or offer traditional medicines that are not able to cure what they claim to and often cause devastating harm.) We sponsor children for school (some are housed and some from their own homes).  RTP provides the food and clothing necessary for them to attend. Vocational training and life skills are taught.  We promote and teach leadership skills in order to prepare them for their careers.

Just as there are physical cycles of poverty, there are also spiritual cycles of poverty and Refuge for the Poor seeks to meet these heart needs, too. By modeling loving relationships, generosity and healthy community that all spring from a restored relationship with the Creator God through Jesus, we see people experience renewal and literal salvation. Breaking the cycle of bondage to idols and spiritual oppression frees not just the individual Cambodian but we hope the next generation and beyond can live life with a free and fruitful relationship with God.

Refuge Multiplication

Greg and Jane Drebes, who started Refuge for the Poor, have served as missionaries in Cambodia since 2006 (more than 12 years!). In that time, they have:

  • Built and cared for a University student dormitory
  • Raised up pastors and planted a church
  • Created two factory worker housing locations (connected with one of the churches) providing low-income rental rooms for the poor
  • Bought and reconstructed a building called A MOTHER’S HOME for single factory worker mothers and their children
  • Created a sponsorship program that currently meets the education and physical needs of approximately 60 children
  • Built and are ready to open a REFUGE CENTER for poor and vulnerable children, teens and young adults.

Greg and Jane’s love and compassion in the name of Jesus has helped to open many Cambodian hearts to hear the good news and become followers of Jesus. Their discipleship strategy is life-on-life with a constant reminder to these new followers of Jesus to pass on what they have learned to others. The beautiful, caring community that grows from these leaders and their disciples truly reminds one of the early church!