Cambodia (MNN) — A Cambodian proverb says, “Fear not the future, weep not for the past.” This proverb is appropriate for a country whose recent history is riddled with tragedy and who still feels the reverberations of this history today.
Following the Vietnam War, Cambodia was overtaken by Communist guerilla forces known as the Khmer Rouge in 1975. Over the next four years, approximately 1.5 million Cambodians were executed or died from malnutrition, disease, and overwork.
John Pudaite, president and CEO of Bibles For The World (BFTW) says, “What a lot of Americans don’t realize is that after America pulled out of the Vietnam War in 1975, the wars continued in that part of the world for another nearly 15 years between Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, [and] those countries down there in Southeast Asia.”
Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1979 and established the People’s Republic of Kampuchea. Eventually, Cambodia regained independence in the 1990s, but not without deep scars.
“When I first went in there in late 1998, it was still like a war zone,” says Pudaite. “There was one paved road in the entire capital of Phnom Penh between the airport and the king’s palace. Everything else was just rubble. I don’t think at that time there were many buildings over two or three stories.”
BFTW started ministry in Cambodia in the late 1990s. “At the time, there was a handful of Christians; literally a few thousand Christians. We got involved in helping provide Scripture for those believers and providing them with Scripture for evangelism.”
Cambodia still has a special place in BFTW’s heart today. That’s why BFTW is launching a new project later this year to encourage a Gospel movement in the nation.
“One of the key events is going to be that Franklin Graham is going to be holding a festival there — Love Phnom Penh Festival. We’re looking at coming alongside that festival and helping provide Scriptures for those who make decisions for Christ at the evening programs, and also for doing Scripture distribution in and around that program.”
Pudaite says BFTW’s hope with this project is to come alongside the local Church. He recently visited Cambodia to connect with local believers. “After this trip, it was interesting to see there has been growth in the Body of Christ there. But we’re still looking at Christians being…only about two percent of that country. Cambodia, of course, is a predominantly Buddhist nation…. [We] just see a Body of Christ there that really needs some strength, some support.”
While Cambodians strive to “fear not the future, weep not for the past,” as the proverb says, Cambodian Christians know that true fearlessness and healing comes from a hope that goes beyond circumstances — hope offered by Jesus Christ.
Please pray for the Love Phnom Penh Festival and BFTW’s ministry to stir a spiritual revival in Cambodia. Ask God to strengthen our Cambodian Christian brothers and sisters and give them boldness to share Jesus’s hope with others.
“We’ll be continuing to lift this up in prayer as we start to move on a renewed outreach to the people of Southeast Asia with the Word of God.”
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