“Never forget that Jesus Christ was a man born into King David’s family and that He was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach. And because I preach this Good News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word of God cannot be chained.” 2 Timothy 2:8,9
By Dianne Kushniryk
Statistics place the number of Christians in Cambodia at about 1.3 per cent of the population so that means in the capital city of Phnom Phen (population about 2.5 million) there are about 30,000. In 1975 before the Khmer Rouge outlawed all religion there were an estimated 10,000 believers, by 1979 there were only 200 left alive. Of the 33 pastors who had served, there were only six remaining. More than 400 churches have been planted in Cambodia since. (Figures courtesy of Church Behind the Wire by Barnabas Mam).
Although the city offers some good size assemblies, there are also storefront churches nestled between cellphone stores and neighbourhood taverns. In the provinces, most people congregate in local government buildings or in home churches.
Since we were scheduled to meet with them on a Saturday the men were conspicuously absent (either in the fields or at jobs).
The villagers greeted us with a choir of children from their Sunday school and youth group and sent us off with hugs and waves. In between they sat hungry for the Word and grateful for our prayers. The religion of their country allows only for resignation among the hardship of life but their Jesus offers hope, He offers “deliverance, not from something but in that something”.
Their joy at knowing Him, their boldness at proclaiming Him and their thirst for Him makes me humble and leaves me yearning to be like them.
“For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like His Son….you must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…but the most important piece of clothing you wear is love.” (Romans 8:29, Colossians 3:12,14)
Dianne Kushniryk is a Christian essayist who has been published in the Rimbey Review and the Red Deer Advocate. She now writes almost exclusively for her church, Rimbey New Life Fellowship.