Suddenly I am at the halfway mark of my three-month stay here in Cambodia. There are many things I could share and focus on—the smiles of the students at the Rainbow Hostel in Phnom Penh; the life education and ‘daily bread’ projects at Phum Krus Life Centre, that are helping to serve the village; the […]
Suddenly I am at the halfway mark of my three-month stay here in Cambodia. There are many things I could share and focus on—the smiles of the students at the Rainbow Hostel in Phnom Penh; the life education and ‘daily bread’ projects at Phum Krus Life Centre, that are helping to serve the village; the faith and dedication of the pastors and lay workers; the support of the LCA, the Lutheran Church in Singapore and other overseas partners for the Cambodian land purchase project; the personal struggles of being a sojourner in a foreign land; the confronting sights of a developing country.
As a young theologian, I find these and many other thought-bites vying for reflection. But it has been the privilege of seeing Christ’s body, the church, being raised among these people, that has taken me by surprise. Despite their placement in the back row of the global theatre, we can learn a lot from the Cambodians.
Our Lord has orchestrated a special gathering at the Rainbow Hostel in Phnom Penh; a Memorandum of Understanding is being signed by two Lutheran churches in Cambodia. I’m struck by the significance of this action. I have been fretting about doctrinal differences along synodical lines and painfully deliberating my own possible impositions upon a culture. Meanwhile these Cambodian churches have quietly opened up a channel to meet and to cooperate for the glory of our Lord. In contrast to the troubling trend of churches divorcing each other, here a unified Lutheran church in Cambodia has perhaps begun.
However, the two Lutheran churches and the wider church in Cambodia, still face difficulties and challenges. Spiritual oppression is both visible and invisible in this land of many gods, where most people practise a blend of Buddhism and Hinduism. But just as Psalm 23:5 speaks of a table being prepared in the presence of enemies, God doesn’t simply wipe out evil; rather he prepares to dwell in its presence and persist among it.
I see this most clearly in the chapel of the City Church at the Rainbow Hostel; not 15 metres outside on the footpath, is a spirit house, replete with a Buddha. In this context I can understand acutely the psalmist’s praise for the saving grace of our Lord’s dwelling place, and the goodness that pursues us.
I praise the Lord for gathering his church together and finding a dwelling place here. It is certainly a mercy for the people of Cambodia. And I praise him for providing for this church through the good people in the Lutheran Church of Australia, Lutheran Church in Singapore and other partner bodies in the wider church, who have showered the good oil on his people in Cambodia.
Together with the saints in Cambodia I look forward to that heavenly table where we can feast together with the saints of all time, and dwell with our Lord in his house forever.
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