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

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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]

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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.

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Bangladesh

15 09 2012

Several weeks ago, I met two doctors in Australia, from Bangladesh. They have moved here for their safety, their future, and for the sake of their young son. While they wait to upgrade their qualifications, they have applied for and accepted very menial tasks in a factory here. In a most enlightening conversation, I learned that they are Hindu people. I also learned that they had been subjected to severe pressure, and aggressive behaviour from members of the Muslim community in Bangladesh. Since they are now in the minority, they find themselves bullied for money and favours. They said, that life would be far worse for them, if they were not a general and a specialist doctor (medical practitioners)respectively. Being doctors, they were privileged to live well, in the upper echelon of society. However, for Hindu people in lesser jobs and place in society, life is most difficult amidst the now strongly Muslim nation. Although they come from a family of medical doctors, they feared for the future of their son in Bangladesh. Unless he too, qualified as a doctor, life ahead looked to be very difficult indeed for him. It was unsafe. People were aggressively dishonest. Law and order was breaking down badly. A car left on the road would simply be stolen. Unlike in Australia, where cars are left there unattended overnight all the time. Few, by comparison, are ever stolen. This shift to Australia, was very difficult—away from the people, and the land they loved. But alas, pressure, pressure, pressure. By contrast, they said that the only pressure in Australia, was for money to live and pay expenses. The couple said that they did not know any Christians back in Bangladesh—perhaps one they thought, on recollection.

Of the 165 million people, 14.6 million live in the capital, Dhaka.

89% are Muslim, 9% Hindu, and Christiansen: a mere 0.66% off the population. Even less were Buddhist or other faiths.

Prominent in our minds in Australia, are the bodies of the weak, starving masses shown on our TV’s some years ago, during times of great hunger and war. We give thanks to the Lord, that there has been some progress in recent years in the fight against poverty. May it continue.

Micro-credit has helped many people to begin to re-establish a fruitful, useful life once again.

Religion: “Bangladesh was a secular state from 1971-1988. However, in 1988 Islam became the official state religion. Officially there is religious freedom, but this is being steadily eroded by Islamist pressure and a legal system lacking safeguards for ethnic or religious minorities. Islamists are a strong and growing minority.”

Bangladesh was part of Pakistan for 24 years. Independence came in 1971 after a bitter civil war; there has been political instability thereafter, with assassinations, 18 military coups and a nine-year military dictatorship which ended in 1991. One of the Islamic world’s only democracies is rendered ineffective by unrest and personal animosity between two women, who have led the two main political parties. Military and Islamist groups remain influential and ready to pick up the pieces should the state fail. Often rated among the world’s most corrupt nations. Many have been the floods and cyclones.

Among the world’s poorest nations… Nearly half the population lives on less that $1 per day.

A solid social foundation for progress is lacking. Education levels are low. There is very little in the way of infrastructure. There are very few natural resources. Most people work in agriculture or textiles for “scandalously low wages”. Overpopulation creates many problems. There is a frightening vulnerability to changes in climate and economy. Floods, swollen rivers, rising food prices, monsoons, and so much money needing to be spent on food, makes improvement and security issues, seem a long way off.

Prayer points. Please pray:

  • For the preaching of the gospel to bring many to know Jesus Christ.
  • For honesty (corruption is endemic and deeply rooted). in government.
  • For more than political lip service to democracy, showing Christ to those caught up in favour of Sharia Law.
  • For a deep change so that Islamists will not merely dominate people’s lives.
  • For the churches, that have been “growing faster than the population rate“. Wow.
  • For the people-movement tribal churches among the Santal, Munda, Khasi, Garo, Maramei, Ralte, Mizo, Poi.
  • For the churches among the lower caste Hindu section of the community, who love the good news of Jesus!
  • For the Outreach to new people continue to succeed.
  • For means by which believers and churches may be self-sustaining.
  • For leadership for the churches.
  • For the Key Interdenominational residential schools (College of Christian Theology Bangladesh, and the Christian Discipleship Centre).
  • For the Denominational Bible Schools and Seminaries—AoG, GFA, ABWE, Free Baptist, Anglican, Adventist, Lutheran and Church of Bangladesh.
  • For Indigenous Bible Schools offering training in local community outreach, tailored to the needs of culturally Muslim followers of Jesus.
  • For the NGO’s – over 20,000 registered which almost seem like a “second government”.
  • For the Bengali people—by far the largest unreached people in the world, numbering around 240 million globally. Of these, 140 million are in Bangladesh alone, and are often bound to ‘folk Islam’ a blend of Sufi and Hindu.
  • For Hindu Bengali people, where there are 228 Hindu people groups/ or castes of which 204 are classified as least-reached/unreached. “Only among 14 groups has there been any significant response. The upper castes have remained resistant to the gospel.”
  • For the tribal peoples who’s very existence is threatened as the population explodes and pushes further into their lands.
  • For the Bihari Muslims (Urdu speaking) who are unwanted by Pakistan and stigmatized as traitors in Bangladesh for their role in the 1971 war. Most still live in dozens of former refugee camps.
  • For the Rohingya Muslims. As many as 250,000 of them have fled persecution from the Buddhist Myanmar government, and are huddled in refugee camps facing starvation—they have never been given the gospel.
  • For more evangelism and church planting.
  • For at risk people—the poor children. So many hundreds of thousands pushed into being child labourers, and millions of them forced into being sex workers—a living hell.
  • For Christian business investors seeking to show mercy—they are welcomed by this country.
  • For Scripture to reach those who want it. It is in huge demand. Pray for those working on the production of literature, and in media outreach.
  • For those millions who are illiterate to hear the Word through others, who tell the stories of Jesus, and the work of His Cross, for the nations of the World in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Risen, reigning Lord Jesus, we pray for the people of Bangladesh to hear of your presence now, and your resurrection victory over poverty, death, evil, cruelty, and godlessness, and may they receive with joy your Holy Spirit, and be assured of salvation amidst the terribly difficult problems they endure. O Holy God, Father of orphans, humble friend to the oppressed, may your grace flow out upon this nation, that they may grow and live to your glory, your future, your plan and your joy—even now. O Lord, we groan as we ponder such a large mess amidst such a mass of humanity, where every person matters to you. O Father! Amen.








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