The Pnong are animists who often live in fear of the spirits, performing ceremonies designed to appease them. The most-feared spirits are called jaks.

AFM has ministered to the Pnong since 2000.

About the People

Far up in the northeastern corner of Cambodia, in Mondulkiri province near the Vietnam border, there are broad, sweeping, forest-covered hills with waterfalls and rivers in the deep valleys. Scattered throughout this woodland area are the Pnong people, who typically live in thatched bamboo, two-story longhouses with rounded ends. These farmers and foresters are known for taming elephants to haul trees and cargo. They practice labor-intensive slash-and-burn agriculture, following a 15- to 20-year cycle, using one site for up to five years before moving to a new location.

The Pnong are animists whose lives center around the worship of many nature spirits and performing ceremonies designed to appease and manipulate them.

About the Project

In the mid-1950s, the Pnong people heard of Jesus and invited missionaries to come and teach them. Mission agencies were unable to answer the call at that time, and the tribe sent another request in the mid-1960s. Then regional hostilities broke out, leading up to the Vietnam War. The Ho Chi Minh Trail ran through Pnong territory, so many fled the bombings and became refugees in Vietnam, where some were finally able to learn the gospel. Now, there are about a thousand Christians among the Pnong.

The Pnong are usually short of food for three to five months a year between harvests. During this time, they forage in the forest, hunt, fish or gather resin to sell. Major tracts of land have been logged, sold or otherwise removed from the traditional owners of the Bunong community, leading to a decrease in basic resources.

Until recently, the Pnong language was only spoken, not written. Many Pnong do not speak the trade language, Khmer, very well. Their ability to interact with the broader society is limited, preventing the adoption of innovations and ideas from the outside. The majority of Pnong people lack math skills and are often cheated in the marketplace. Also, as outside influences encroach with alarming speed and impact, the Pnong people are ill-equipped to adapt.

Most of all, the Pnong are grasping for stability and hope that can only be found in Christ. There is not yet a complete Pnong Bible translation, but one is underway.

People-Group Facts

  • Population: 30,000
  • Trade Language: Khmer
  • Heart Language: Pnong
  • Religion: Animism

    Serving this Project

    • Serena Whitcome

      Student Missionary from 2022–2023

    • Yonathan Suarez

      Student Missionary from 2022–2023

    • Michael Bussard

      Student Missionary from 2021–2022

    • Ashley Holloway

      Student missionary for 2021-2022

    • Amy Reyes

      Short-term missionary for 2021

    • Ester Rocha de Souza

      AFM-Brazil Short-term missionary for 2020

    • Tamiris Vieira Rasquini

      AFM-Brazil Short-term missionary for 2020

    • Hannah Nicholaides

      Student missionary for 2020-2022.

    • Cristian & Solange Jara

      AFM-Brazil Team Missionaries for 2020.

    • Vanessa Santana Santos

      AFM Brazil Short-Term Missionary for 2020

    • Katie LeBlanc

      Student Missionary for 2020-2021

    • Serena Van Fossen

      Student Missionary for 2021

    • Jared Ratcliff

      Student Missionary for 2020

    • William Guisler

      AFM-Brazil Short-term missionary for 2020

    • Virginia da Silva Witte

      AFM-Brazil Short-term missionary for 2021-2022.

    • Rueben Edgecumbe

      Short-Term Missionary for 2018

    • Conan Lizzi

      Student Missionary for 2016-2017

    • Anthony Nelson

      Student Missionary for 2016-2017

    • Vannida Kim

      Student Missionary for 2016-2017

    • Mariëtte Diedericks

      AFM-SAT Short-Term Missionary for 2021

    • Camilyn Clayville

      Student Missionary for 2015-2016

    • Deon & Rene Theunissen

      Career Missionaries since 2014.

    • Jonathan & Veronica Nicholaides

      Career Missionaries since 2013

    • Daniel & Cara Greenfield

      Career Missionaries since 2007.

    Project Update

    Entered area in 2000.

    • Groups — 2
    • Members — 20

    Previously served here

    • Daisy Blu

      Student missionary for 2020-2021.

    • Lindsay Rodgers

      Student Missionary for 2020

    • Ellen Candida Alve Campos

      AFM-Brazil Short-term missionary for 2019.

    • Ryan Schmid

      Student Missionary for 2019-2020

    • Karissa Ziegler

      Student Missionary for 2019-2020

    • Aline Piologro Gama

      Short-Term Missionary for 2019

    • Claudia Oliveira

      Short-Term Missionary for 2018

    • Jader Oliveira

      Short-Term Missionary for 2018

    • Michael Babienco

      Short-Term Missionary for 2018-2019

    • Giancarlo Ferrari

      Short-Term Missionary for 2017

    •  Conan Lizzi

      Student Missionary for 2016-2017

    • Anthony Nelson

      Student Missionary for 2016-2017

    • Bonnie Hover

      Short-Term Missionary for 2016-2017

    • Vannida Kim

      Student Missionary for 2016-2017

    • Camilyn Clayville

      Student Missionary for 2015-2016

    • Devin Lily

      Student Missionary from 2015-2016

    • Maryke Reynhardt

      Served as a Student Missionary from 2014 – 2016. AFM-SAT missionary from 2016 – 2017. Currently AFM SAT Administrator

    • Greg & Molly Timmins

      Career Missionaries from 2006-2011; returning in 2015.

    • Braden & Johanna Pewitt

      Career Missionaries from 2000-2011.