Cambodia

9 04 2013

A fertile forest-covered Asian nation of 16 million people, on the Mekong River – and bordered by Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.

Sadly, whenever Cambodia is mentioned, many immediately recall images of the brutal leader, Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge and ‘The Killing Fields’.

However, this – like all nations – is an amazing place, with a history of survival from deep suffering, poverty, corruption and difficulty.

Cambodia

Cambodia

  Capital: Phnom Penh – 2 million people

images-2

Cambodia 2

Operation World says: “One of the world’s poorest countries and heavily dependent on foreign aid. Years of war and genocide followed by venal and corrupt governments have hindered development and kept most of the population poor; 38% live below the poverty line. Significant progress is being made in economic development, but the rural poor are being left behind. Agriculture, garments and tourism are the biggest earners, with offshore oil/gas deposits promising future income. Illegal logging and the sex trade enriches a small number of wickd men, but causes suffering to many.”   [* Public debt is 63% of GDP]

images-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Religion:

Buddhist 83.34%   (12.5 million)

Ethnoreligionist 4.8%

Christian 3.13%   (471, 162)

Chinese 2.85%

Muslim 2.3%

Other 0.26%

Hindu 0.22%

“Buddhism has been the national religion since the 15th Century.  The Khmer Rouge sought to eradicate all religions; 90% of Buddhist monks and most Christians perished. Since 1979 there have been periods of more tolerance, and since 1990 Christians have been allowed to worship openly, but a few limitations on mission activity have been legislated as well” (OM. p. 185)

Christian Churches: (interesting the great strength of the Pentecostal/Charismatic brands)

Foursquare Gospel Church (“the biggest!” at 62,000 and 135,000 affiliates – wow);

Others, include Catholic Church, River of Life, Assemblies of God, Methodist, Baptist, Khmer Evangelical church,Seventh Day Adventist, Harvest-time Ministries, New Life Fellowship, Cambodia for Christ.

Prayer Points:

1. Give thanks for the unprecedented – and unexpected – church growth over the last 20 years.

2. Pray for healing of hearts and lives:

“the scars of the terrible genocide of 1975-1979 remain evident.  Nearly two million were killed over 60,000 lost life or limb to landmines and most of the population over age 30 need deep healing from the trauma of their losses and suffering”.

Pray for Justice to be seen to be done; International tribunals are having difficulty in bringing government and judiciary on board with the justice process, and the culture of corruption and impunity holds sway. The Khmer Rouge trials should assist greatly.

3. Spiritual Darkness persists – ubiquitous ‘spirit-shrines, Buddhist opposition to any ideological rival, moral collapse, structural-sin, pray for light. Jesus said: “I am the Light of the World”.

4. Pray for a break in structural-sin seen in bad patterns of (i) Land Grabbing, (ii) Child labour, sex trade victims (100,000) – 20% of tourists exploit this trade, homeless children and orphans, HIV, (iii) drug trafficking and drug abuse has increased greatly – not good for any future in any nation, but especially here.

5. Give thanks for the triumph of Christ and His Church in Cambodia. It has ‘survived against all odds’. As Jesus said, ‘I will build  my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it’. CMA missionary workers laboured for 47 years, from 1923 until they saw a breakthrough. Then the Church was nearly extinguished through the slaughter of the 1970’s. During the 1990’s however, churches spread well to all 19 provinces. And so we pray for continued freedom of religion, freedom from the past’s terrible sin and hatred, for children and young people to be discipled to follow Jesus and know the power of his love to heal and re-establish a nation, for a great vision to be realised where the 11,000 villages without a church may have one established.

6. For Mature Leadership for the churches – this is the greatest challenge. For Bible schools, existing Pastors, Unity among churches, foreign Christian workers t come and help.

7. Christian ministry to physical needs is a major concern. Murder of the educated and those with skills, makes expatriate input essential. ‘Rehabilitation, orphanages, reconstruction, health care, projects for agriculture, fisheries, water management, education are all areas that can benefit. But not merely making ‘rice Christians’ with handouts! This is resented by the Buddhists. 

8. Prayer for the less-reached peoples, among the Buddhist majority, the Cham – almost entirely Muslim, Fojihed Muslims – with magic and superstition, the tribal peoples – 18 major southeast Asian people groups remain ignorant of hearing the gospel, ask for new witnesses to go.

9. Literature, the JESUS film, Audio, Video and radio resources all are appreciated – pray for their success in reaching Cambodians, with the living Word of the Living Christ Jesus. Praise the Lord for what we see happening in this nation, and pray for a greater awakening.

Advertisements




The Mystery of Lawlessness

29 01 2011

January, 2011: Egpyt suddenly breaks out in lawlessnesss. The Police can not be seen on the streets. And the army steps in to keep some sort of order. The government is strangely absent for comment. Wow.

Whenever we look at aspects of anarchy and intense political unrest, issuing in some degree of violence, then we are in a good moment to reflect upon the biblical phrase, which says:  “the mystery of lawlessness is already at work” (2 Thessalonians 2:7).

Lawlessness, or iniquity, or sin, is certainly a mystery. Why humanity embraces sin, lawlessness, and rebellion, has no good answer. The bible speaks of many mysteries. Mysteries from a biblical standpoint are insights, that become possible to comprehend, only when one thinks from the logic of the cross of Christ. Mysteries,  are only clearly seen, as one knows Jesus Christ, and thinks in him, with thoughts that are Christo-logical.

I for one, am very thankful for the great work of the Police in Australia, and around the world, where stable government is working reasonably well.

The creation, and humanity generally, responds well to good authority. It is a great blessing to society, and to living with others in community life. It means that safety can be a reasonable expectation for a society.

I find it extremely difficult to view creation, as lacking an authority framework within it, to function. And the order and rule of human behaviour, somehow needs good authority.

The Lord is King – of all creation. Thank heavens for that! And as he exercises Lordship over rebellious elements of creation, including human creatures, and celestial ones, we have a blessed pattern in which to find our bearings, and to know what we too, should do,

May you be blessed in doing your part, especially as it pertains to the restraint of lawlessness. May we know the power of Jesus Christ’s Risen Lordship over nations – leading them to find real life, through Christ.

It would be a frightening world, were there no restraint upon ‘lawlessness’.  May we anicipate good things, as we give attention and careful thought to such matters as true law, and true government, for the benefit of others!

In many countries, governments have failed to constrain evil satisfactorily. Whenever society has capitulated to the powers of evil, to angry violent human beings, and wherever lawlessness reigns, humanity experiences de-humanization and degradation and shame.

Jesus came into the world to destroy the works of the devil, and that would include lawlessness.  Jesus came to re-humanise humanity. May we who respond to his Lordship, not be afraid to ‘bite the bullett’ and to take the tough decisions needed, so that society can reflect the truth of humanity, living together with one another.





A Distinct Bugle Sound

28 11 2009

As a kid, I used to really enjoy the cowboy movies, we were shown on TV; especially the ones where the US cavalry, heard of the impending problems on the frontier, and to the sound of music … came charging over the hill, to the rescue – just in time! US flag held aloft, bayonets at the ready, and a fine stream of horses and riders… (back in the days before it was politically correct, to hate all things US).

Like the urgent call of the fire siren, to the CFS volunteers in a country town, so the call of a bugle was once used to awaken the troops – to do battle.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he asks the question: “..if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?” (1Cor. 14:8). Speaking in tongues, a lovely, yet somewhat minor matter, had become the big focus for some, rather than the clear Word of the Gospel, proclaimed to the nations. The Gospel is a bugle blast!  It is a clarion call. It is a trumpeted song of resurrection joy!  It makes great, grand sense of the seemingly sad and sombre notes, that cry forth, in the crucifixion.

The bugle. Yes. For what reason?

Ah, the battle!  The life of faith is undoubtedly, a battle. There is a clash of two kingdoms. The kingdom of the Son of God’s love, and the kingdom of the deceptive, evil one.

We usually nominate the enemies, in our battle, as 1. the world, 2. the flesh, and 3. the devil.  However, a more complete list really comprises of: 1. sin, 2. death, 3. the wrath of God, 4. the law, 5. the conscience, 6. satan, 7. world powers, 8. the world, 9. the flesh, and 10. the idols (see G.C. Bingham, The Things We Firmly Believe, NCPI, p. 115).

People of faith are engaged in a battle, a battle to stand firm in the freedom we have already received. Human beings are being called into freedom, through the gospel, or good news of Christ Jesus. Christians are kept in freedom by that same gospel. However, it really needs to be a clear gospel, a distinct sound. And this needs to be the case, even as we are engaged in the great mysteries, revealed to us.

Clarity. Clarity. Clarity. These three are needed amidst the information overload of our age. Especially, we need gospel clarity. To this end, many rightly turn to modern day teacher, John Piper. I do too.

Recently, however, I reviewed one of John Piper’s small talks: What is the Gospel? I appreciated his words, and work, but felt that they lacked something. I would like to make an important point, therefore. Here is his summary:

The Gospel is

  1. A Plan From Eternity
  2. An Event in History
  3. An Achievement between the Son and Father
  4. A Free offer to the world of these things
  5. Application of this Achievement – Forgiven, Justified (do not stop here, he adds, for many do!)
  6. To Bring us to God (Reconciliation for Fellowship)  (What-Is-The-Gospel—John-Piper).               The wonderful point he makes, is that we are to know, love and enjoy the Triune God. So true. But here in point 7, is a further addition, which connects the benefits of the Gospel, to the setting in which we will always find ourselves, namely – the Creation!
  7. To equip us to participate in running the Universe, together with God, eternally.

In all his writings, and especially in his stories, Geoffrey Bingham taught the significance of Salvation in relation to the Creation, and to the New [renewed] Creation. Only recently, theologians were discussing what was, or is, the priority of God – the story of salvation, or the work of creation, in order to bring humanity into fellowship, eternally.  I think the confusion comes, or the question arises, because we seldom ever glimpse the wonder of creation, from the outset, when all the angels sang and shouted for joy (Job 38:7). As a result, we fail to anticipate the role of humanity in relation to creation, into the future. We, as it were, stop short at fellowship and communion.

The real goal of the plan, is to form ‘a peer community’, together with Jesus the Son, Redeemer, who enjoy one another, in relationship, and in the ongoing action of the creation.

One of the Lord’s dear servants, Geoffrey Bingham, has put it like this: ‘God’s purpose in having a church is to train people up to be able to run the universe, with him, for eternity’.

Now, I believe, this is …. A Distinct Bugle Sound.





Creation and Redemption

2 03 2009

Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth (Psalm 66:1).

Trumpeting elephants. Screeching seagulls. Busy blue tongue lizards. Crunchy Fuji apples. Do you enjoy the world? If we observe the creation around us– of which we are a unique part – we will discover what a marvellous place it really is. It has such a rich, riotous variety.

Did you know there are some 380,000 different species of plant life known to botanists? There are 21,000 species of fish, 4,000 of amphibians, 5,200 of reptiles, 8,700 species of birds, and 4,000 of animals. Not to mention protozoa, sponges, jellyfish, worms, snails, insects, spiders and more. Earth alone is made up of 100 known elements, like carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, calcium and zinc. There are rocks, metals, liquids, gases – and so it goes on. And think – 10,000 million galaxies of stars, beyond this planet. The atmosphere changes continually, with rain, wind, light and heat. There is the moon and the sun, day and night, mountains, plains and valleys, high tide and low, electrical storms and swirling hurricanes. Seasons. Yet so much of creation is unseen, microscopic, or hidden in the depths of caves and oceans.

What about all the people? – 6 billion of us. Contemplate that! There are 5000 different languages. Noise – soft and loud, and silence. Music – with rhythm, melody and harmony – played on percussion, wind, strings and keyboard instruments. We have fabulous foods to delight in – sweet or bitter, soft, medium and hard. There are aromas that please, and smells that don’t!

What about human inventions? Levers, wheels, boats, planes, cars, gadgets, homes, beds, radio, TV, DVD, MP3, power stations. There are hundreds of sports, games and vocations – jobs to do. There is art, writing, reading, research, joke telling, stories, notes, sermons and speeches, books, films, and computers. There is medicine, poison, and pain killing. There is surgery, massage and makeup. There are crafts to do, academic learning, ABC’s for babies, thinking, and pondering. All sorts of feelings: loving and longing, hoping and waiting, disappointment and fulfilment, healing. Disease, deformity and injury we know all too well! Birth, childhood, growth, romance, marriage, friendship, maturity, aging, and death are all different. Eternal life. Prayer. Purpose.

Being “at home” within the creation is what life is all about. How could we ever be bored? Well, there is sin and its terrible, shocking effects! But there is also Redemption.

It is so lovely to come home to the Father, through His Son, in forgiveness. Worship is due to our Creator, and our Redeemer, for both creation and redemption. Jesus Christ our saving Lord, is risen from death, for all creation – life is forever wonderful. Come Holy Spirit.

Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth.





Rose Coloured Glasses

1 02 2009

Looking at the world through rose-coloured glasses. It’s something we all do. From time to time, each of us view the human scene, the cosmic scene, daily life, as if all things were basically going well.

It has been said, that “an optimist, has a misty optic”.  They are not truly viewing the evil, the harm, the damage, the terror, the horror, the unfairness, the inequality and deprivation, and acts of depravity, being wrought, in our midst, on a daily, yearly basis. 

January 29 2009. “A father allegedly threw his four-year-old daughter off a bridge in front of the girl’s two young brothers and scores of motorists during rush hour in Melbourne today. Witnesses said Arthur Phillip Freeman, 35, suddenly stopped his family car – which also had his two young sons inside – and, with young Darcey Iris in his arms, walked to the side of the West Gate Bridge, just after 9am. He then allegedly dropped his young daughter over the railing and into the water, 190ft (58m) below.” (Times Online). 

The girl died. The Father was arrested. The Premier made a statement. And the community was, and continues to be shocked and horrified. 

We respond by vowing to make the bridge safer. We recognise for a few moments, that we do have a community mental health problem. Perhaps, if we were to be more honest in our assessment, we might together confess, that we really do have a community mental-health epidemic. A nightmare. 

Can we ever compute the effects of the evil, and hatred, and anger in one human heart? What about the anger simmering in one home, one suburb, one city, one nation, one global community? 

Now, it is not good to be a pessimist. It is not good to be bitter, and always critical of life and people. However, let us admit that our society, our nation, our human race (although capable of mighty and noble things) has a problem that needs deep treatment. 

When the Apostle Paul says, ‘For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified’, he is really saying that he views life no longer through ‘coloured glasses’ of any shade, but through the events of the cross of Christ.

Is that our viewing lense?

Is that your viewing lense?  

Yes…. is it my viewing lense?

We all need to face life squarely.

That will mean, being faced by the love of God in Christ Jesus. Christ crucified is God’s judgment and ‘no’ to evil humanity. It is also his redemptive love for the world. Only the Spirit of God can bring this to us, down in our hearts – and in our community life.

This will mean being faced with our own hearts, and our own need of the Saviour. Our world surely needs more than deep repair of the human heart. It needs the cross of Christ Jesus. We need Jesus, to take up our evil into his cross. We need Jesus to know our sins forgiven. We need Jesus to heal our hearts of all this deep damage. We need Jesus, to have one to trust in all of life. We need the mercy, which is given in Jesus. 

Lord have mercy! Christ have mercy!

May our community return to the sanity, of faith in Christ who deals with all evil, and heals al hearts, that come to him in faith. He is Risen. He was crucified for all.

O Lord, we lay down our false, rose–coloured glasses.

The community needs profound repair. Lord have mercy!





Sin is Irrational

17 05 2007

Sin is irrational.
There is no good logic to it.
It is self destructive. It is other-person destructive.
It has cosmic ramifications.
It is rebellion.
It achieves nothing of enduring quality.

And yet we do it. We all do.

…except that One, who – gladly- was not irrational.

Thank you Father, for sending us your Son, the truly rational, truly wonderful One.








%d bloggers like this: