Phum Krus is a small village in Cambodia, about a two-hour drive from the capital, Phnom Penh. The drive to Phum Krus means leaving the main highway to travel on uneven dirt roads and avoiding puddles made by recent thunderstorms. Village life greets you on arrival with cows chewing their cud near humble homes, the […]
Phum Krus is a small village in Cambodia, about a two-hour drive from the capital, Phnom Penh. The drive to Phum Krus means leaving the main highway to travel on uneven dirt roads and avoiding puddles made by recent thunderstorms. Village life greets you on arrival with cows chewing their cud near humble homes, the sounds of roosters and chickens and, with few vehicles, local people strolling between homes. There is a slower pace of life here. It is a community that is interconnected in their reliance on each other. Phum Krus is surrounded by productive farming land, the rice fields move in the warm tropical breeze, framed by gentle hills. This is my community. It is where I was born and where I grew to know God’s gracious love.
The community is well aware of the Lutheran Church in Cambodia (LCC), as a congregation has been established in our Buddhist village and they are following it with patient and curious interest. The presence of Christianity in Cambodia is still considered by some to be a foreign religion which is spoiling culture. But Cambodians are learning to adapt to the changes in life which practising Christianity brings.
In the village of Phum Krus, the church is sharing the gospel among our loved ones. We know it can be challenging to bring non-believers to Sunday services, so we take the church out to the community. Eight small groups from the church meet each week for two hours, led by staff and volunteer elders. Before leading a group, the elders are trained in Lutheran theology and taught how to share their faith. They learn how to be Jesus’ witness and, through the church, how to show the love and grace of God to their society.
These groups meet to connect with one another, to pray, sing, and reflect on a Bible study. Cambodian Christians have been through a lot of suffering; these groups encourage them to focus on the joy they have in Christ, even when they are rejected by their Buddhist friends and family. They learn how God provides a way for them to live in hope, knowing how his value of them, strengthens them in faith.
Once a year, each of the small groups meet together at the Gathering, inviting around 10-15 non-Christians from the community to join in. Prayer, songs, group discussion and sharing, games and food are all part of the event. Participants are invited to share their hardships, thoughts and experiences. They are encouraged to be open and vulnerable. They learn about caring for their spiritual and emotional through meditating on God’s Word.
The most recent Gathering focused on what it means to be a Christian family. We studied what the Bible says about being the kind of parent God wants them to be, so that their non-Christian children will witness God’s light. We looked at how to be a respectful Christian son or daughter, so as to be a positive witness to Buddhist parents who ask their children to participate in practices such as ancestor worship.
When I see people from my village smile with God’s hope and realise how meaningful their life is when lived in God’s presence, even amidst their suffering, my heart is filled with joy. One of the songs we sang at the Gathering is translated ‘God is our refuge’. This song is about God as our strength. Even when we are walking in darkness and the veil of hardness and death seems to be covering us, God is always present.
Within this strong Buddhist community, guiding Christians to be respectful of people who don’t believe in the Trinitarian God can be challenging. But I see God’s love impacting their lives with love, joy and hope and that gives me hope as I lead the church.
Many of our partner churches are working in new territory for the kingdom of God; therefore, spiritual attack is their everyday reality. As a member of a congregation, school, or family, or a couple or individual, you are invited to commit to praying for our partners in mission. For regular prayer point updates, go to www.lca.org.au/international-mission/act-now/pray
Read more stories about our partner church in Cambodia at www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/international-partners/cambodia/