Spiritual darkness persists in Cambodia, from the many spirit shrines, the powerful grip of Buddhism that opposes Truth, and the widespread loss of morals. Only prayer will lift it. The enemy of souls makes people suffer under terrible abuses and oppressive poverty. The drug and sex trades hold power over many people. Criminals exploit the high number of unprotected children and young people. Land grabs by people with wealth and power enrich a few at the expense of the majority. Pray for the light of the gospel to shine on individual lives and all social structures in Cambodia. Christians can make a difference in the areas of justice, rehabilitation, orphanages, healthcare, and development. Cambodia also needs outside help with projects in agriculture, fisheries, water management, and education.
The Cambodian Church has survived against all odds. Beginning in 1923, CMA missionaries laboured for 47 years before breakthrough began. Then the Church was nearly extinguished during the slaughter of the 1970s; 90% of Christians died or fled to Thai refugee camps - where a great harvest was reaped for the Kingdom. During the 1990s, churches spread to all 19 provinces. Pray for:
- Continued freedom of religion. The constitution guarantees it, but the government has re-affirmed the ban on door-to-door evangelism and on public distribution of tracts. The use of financial inducements for purposes of conversion by some religious groups has forced responsible Christian groups to reconsider their methods and avoid such negative associations. Pray for continued freedom to wisely and appropriately spread the good news.
- Freedom and deliverance from past sin, hatred, suffering and abuse through the blood of Jesus. Deep healing is required for many who suffered acute trauma. Many of the former Khmer Rouge have become believers; receiving God's forgiveness for past crimes is essential.
- Children and young people to be effectively discipled in the churches and shown how to live in healthy family structures; few are equipped for this. But this generation must begin to lead the Cambodian Church now.
- Future growth and vision. Mission Kampuchea 2021 is a shared vision by the national Churches to see a church in every village and people group in Cambodia by 2021. Currently, an estimated 11,000 villages are without a church.
Mature leadership for the churches is the greatest challenge. The loss of so many educated people in the Khmer Rouge slaughter, combined with the dysfunctional society, pushed many new Christians quickly into leadership before they were ready. Pray for:
- The Bible schools - Phnom Penh Bible School, Cambodia For Christ (CFC) Ministry Training College, AoG and Methodists are just a few among several Bible schools. Residential, full-time academic programmes can be a difficult model to successfully translate into the Cambodian context of life and ministry.
- Existing pastors. Their lack of training, their need to provide for themselves and the overwhelming practical needs of the faithful are huge challenges. Numerous leadership training courses are available that offer on-the-job development for Christian leaders. Pray for wisdom, holiness, power in the Spirit and ways to build up their fledgling congregations spiritually, relationally and economically.
- Unity. That any religious group can register directly with the Ministry of Religion, plus the existence of 13 Protestant umbrella groups, indicate the fragmentation of this rather small national Church. Divisiveness has been a problem in the short history of the Church here. The Evangelical Fellowship of Cambodia represents about 80% of the Christian community; it is increasingly able to cooperate with other notable networks, such as the Cambodian Christian Evangelical Alliance, Cambodian Christian Federation and the Cambodian Baptist Convention. Pray for a greater sense of unity and for more partnerships that are effective.
Foreign Christian workers can contribute in many ways to the myriad challenges facing the Cambodian Church. Pray for more long-term expatriate workers who learn the language, identify with the culture and serve for the long haul. Ministries can easily fall into the trap of "short-termism" and burdensome mission trips. Training and discipling the burgeoning Cambodian Church to finish the task are just as vital as the essential humanitarian work being done, and much pioneer evangelism remains unfinished. There is great freedom for ministry when it is done in a culturally appropriate and sensitive manner.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.