Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles became the first leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to meet with Cambodia’s prime minister and announced a more than $2 million donation for a cardiac hospital there, ChurchofJesusChrist.org and the Church’s Cambodian Newsroom reported.
Also during Elder Renlund’s January ministry in the southeast Asian nation, he met with members of the Church and visited the site where the Church’s Phnom Penh Cambodia Temple is being built.
This year is the 30th anniversary of the Church receiving legal recognition by the Cambodian government on March 4, 1994.
Elder Renlund, a former cardiologist, met with Prime Minister Hun Manet and told him the Church of Jesus Christ is donating nearly U.S. $2.2 million to add a cardiac center to a hospital in Siem Reap, about 318 kilometers, or nearly 200 miles, north of Phnom Penh, as the Church works to bring better health care to the country’s provinces. This will help people like the prime minister’s own uncle who died in another province from an acute coronary syndrome, ChurchofJesusChrist.org reported.
“We’re creating a situation where emergency cardiac care can be given with a heart attack so that people can get less damage to their heart when they have a heart attack, preserve the heart-muscle function so they don’t develop heart failure or that they don’t die,” said Elder Renlund. “Right now when that happens, people have to be transported hours and hours to Phnom Penh to get that kind of care.”
Local Church leaders are some of the collaborators with government and health care officials in the Cambodia Health Improvement Effort, which started in 2018. Projects have included renovating and upgrading province hospitals and equipping and training doctors.
Elder Renlund called Manet “a remarkable individual.”
“He’s very capable and has a vision for the country to help people and lift them. It’s just a really remarkable vision. And it’s very clear he’s charged his government ministers to do that,” Elder Renlund said. “The work that we’ve done with helping with humanitarian things — including elevating the level of health care in some places — aligns completely with what the government wants to do.”
Elder Renlund also met with minister of the Cambodia Ministry of Cults and Religions, Chay Borin, and the secretary of state, Chhat Sochhet.
The Renlunds also toured the Samdech Euv Samdech Me Referral Hospital in Phnom Penh, where senior missionaries are working with hospital leaders and health care workers to provide equipment and help increase the level of care at the hospital.
“This is what happens as the Church goes about following the Savior’s example of doing good. And this is just one small example of a major effort throughout the world. And it is just a thrill and an honor to see this part of the Lord’s work roll forward,” Elder Renlund shared in a video on Instagram, Facebook and X (formerly known as Twitter).
Elder Renlund and his wife, Sister Ruth Renlund, spoke to Latter-day Saints from two Cambodian stakes and one district on Sunday, Jan. 21, reported ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Elder Renlund shared his gratitude for the religious freedom granted by the Cambodian government that allowed the Saints to gather. And he encouraged the Cambodian Saints to remain true to God.
“We learn that if we are faithful members of the Church, God will bless the country in which we live,” Elder Renlund said. “If you want to be a patriot in Cambodia, be a faithful member of the Church — because your faith and faithfulness will pull blessings from heaven.”
Sister Renlund encouraged them to prepare to go to the temple as the Phnom Penh Cambodia Temple is being constructed.
“This is a great time to prepare to make covenants with God, to come closer to Him and to be blessed by making those covenants,” Sister Renlund said.
Elder Renlund also met with young single adults on Jan. 22 and missionaries serving in Phnom Penh on Jan. 23.
There are more than 16,000 members of the Church in Cambodia across 10 wards and 18 branches.
The Renlunds visited the construction site of the Phnom Penh Cambodia Temple on Monday, Jan. 22. The first house of the Lord in the country was announced during the October 2018 general conference by Church President Russell M. Nelson, and construction began with the groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 18, 2021.
On Tuesday, Jan. 23, the Renlunds toured the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, one of 300 such sites known as the Killing Fields. Choeung Ek contains mass graves of victims of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge communist regime, which killed some 3 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979.
Elder Renlund pondered this question as they walked through Choeung Ek: Does the Atonement of Jesus Christ cover even this?
“The answer is yes — it’s an infinite Atonement,” Elder Renlund said. Paraphrasing “Preach My Gospel”: he added, “Everything that is unfair about life can and will be made right by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
“For these victims here and their families, somehow in the eternities Jesus Christ, because He did what He did and He has that power, will somehow compensate even for this and make it right. And that’s really the message of the gospel.”
It was a sharp contrast to the Latter-day Saint temple construction site from the previous day.
“There are some that say, ‘If there were a God, wouldn’t He have done something about this?’ And the answer is that He has,” Elder Renlund said. “He has restored his gospel. He’s restored the sealing authority so that one can do something for these victims as one chooses to. And that’s part of making this right. The temple brings the hope and joy and resolution and even reconciliation of this into the lives of people and their families. The contrast of this heavy, heavy, horrible feeling that we right now have is a contrast with the joy and peace and comfort that can come in the temple.”