John 1:23 NIV John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.'”
John 3:30 NIV “He must become greater; I must become less.”
2013: 90 Years of Evangelical Christianity in Cambodia
In 1923, a missionary with the Christian and Missionary Alliance introduced Thaa Haas “Grandfather Haas” to Jesus Christ. Despite severe opposition, there were 2000 Evangelical Christians in 1965. By 1975, there were 10,000 believers. Between 1975 and 1979, during the Khmer Rouge reign of terror, many of the Christians were killed. Many of the Cambodians were forced to flee to the refugee camps in Thailand. Many of the current Christian leaders accepted Christ during the early 1980s. History is made up of the real lives of real people. Darryl has learned so much by serving alongside of Rev. Heng Cheng, the co- founder and President of Trinity Institute of Cambodia and Rev. Em Sok, the founding director of Tahas Bible Institute (named for Thaa Haas), who have been faithfully walking with the Lord for more than 30 years now. In 1990, there were 10 evangelical churches, now there are 2,000 and 12,000 more are needed. According to Operation World, there are now approximately 240,000 Evangelical Christians in Cambodia, or 1.6% of the population.
The Next Chapter: Preparing the Way for Cambodian Missionaries
Even though the number and percentage of Christians in Cambodia is only 1.6% and more than 12,000 more churches are needed, the Body of Christ is growing in strength and maturity. It is time to prepare the Cambodian Christian leaders to take over the main responsibility for evangelizing their own country and then prepare to launch foreign missionaries from Cambodia to other unreached places in the world.
Many nations that received foreign missionaries in the past are now sending missionaries. There are more than 400 Korean missionaries in Cambodia, including more than 30 with doctoral degrees. There are more than 200 missionaries from the Philippines. Even though only 1% of Japan is Christian, the churches there are launching more and more foreign missionaries. There are also missionaries from Africa and Latin America. Some missionaries from these nations are going to Europe to relight the fire of faith there.
In order to launch missionaries to other countries, Cambodian churches will need to be mature spiritually, numerically, and financially. By encouraging Cambodia’s church to prepare to launch missionaries they will become mature and independent in the process. Just as teens need to know that one day they will be expected to become adults, Cambodia’s Church needs to know that it needs to prepare for full maturity and independence as equal co-laborers in Christ’s service.
Darryl believes that within the next 10 to 30 years, Cambodians will be ready to be sent out as missionaries. First they can reach their own nation. Then, they can branch out to neighboring countries. Finally, they can go global. Cambodians are gifted at language acquisition and cultural adaptation. Cambodia has diplomatic relations with many nations that are closed to missionaries from the US due to political or historical factors.
Equipping Local Leaders to Take Leadership
“It hurts me when foreigners think that Cambodians can’t do things.”
Darryl taught an intensive 40 lecture-hour Christian Apologetics course at Cambodia Bible Institute from December 11-21. His class was made up of 8 Cambodian and Vietnamese pastors and church leaders. Darryl taught these topics:
- God’s Existence: Evidence for Creation and the Weakness of the Theory of Evolution
- Bible’s Inspiration: Historical, Archaeological, Scientific, and Prophetic confirmation that the Bible alone is God’s Word.
- Jesus is Lord: Historical, Archaeological, and Prophetic Evidence that confirms that the New Testament’s writings about the birth, life, death, and resurrection are true.
- God’s Character: Evil, Suffering, Hell, Jesus the Only Way, and other objections that people raise.
- Christian Unity: The importance of correctly identifying and uniting with other true believers (John 17:23).
- Discernment: The importance of being able to defend God’s Word against false teaching, cults, and how to evangelize people from other religions.
This was the first time that these students had ever encountered the evidence for the truth of Christianity. It encouraged them to share their faith outside of their own churches with confidence. Darryl also encouraged these pastors to train others to be tent-maker missionaries to their own families, workplaces, and communities.
Sopheap, one of Darryl’s Evidence and Evangelism students at Trinity Institute of Cambodia has, completely on his own initiative, started teaching the evidence that he learned in Darryl’s class to around nine non-Christian Cambodian university students. He has also started taking classes at Cambodia Bible Institute. Sopheap and Darryl had lunch together one day at Gateway Cafe. Darryl shared with Sopheap how he was happy that he could teach people who would teach others instead of trying to teach everyone by himself. Darryl also shared that even though he can supply a lot of facts, evidence, and information, that Cambodians are better equipped to communicate the Truth to other Cambodians.
They also talked about how that, leaders like Sopheap need to be prepared to take the responsibility and leadership for the ministries in Cambodia. In this conversation, Sopheap made the comment, “It hurts me when foreigners think that Cambodians can’t do things.” This statement made it clear to Darryl that a new generation of Cambodians are rising up. This new generation is not looking for foreign funding and leadership. They are looking for foreign partners who will help them develop their skills and knowledge so that they can be equal partners in ministry in Cambodia and beyond. This is a very encouraging sign!!
Kayo: Ministering to JapaneseLiving in Cambodia through Music
There are many Japanese living and working in Cambodia. A few are missionaries but the vast majority are foreign-aid workers, sponsored by the Japanese government. In the future, we expect that there will be more and more Japanese business people. Many of these people are lonely and are seeking spiritual food more than they would in the comfort of their own countries. Kayo’s love for music has helped her to make friends with other Japanese. She is searching and praying about ways to reach out and to minister to them more effectively. Even though there are International Churches in English, many Japanese also need fellowship, encouragement, and Biblical truth in their own language.
Happy New Year!
May God’s love, grace, and presence become greater in your life in 2013. We thank God for making you just the way you are.
In Christ’s Love,
Darryl, Kayo, and Benjamin