… 38 years ago …


“…. still other Christians flocked to lean-tos, old warehouses, or the shade of spreading trees.  But in every place there was an unmistakable sense of single minded urgency, a nationwide crisis of salvation, allied with deep and sincere devotion to Christ.  Theirs was a disciplined, innovative and rugged kind of piety, born out of the daily necessity to look to God alone for the wherewithal for life itself, and for strength and perseverance to endure one day at a time.

No one who witnessed these things could ever forget the compelling fragrance of Christ among those who in such self forgetful ways ministered to those multitude who for many reason were being moved to seek God. The memory is overworked, dedicated mostly young men and women, tirelessly and patiently exhorting their alienated people to repent and believe the gospel.  They seemed to be totally unmindful of themselves or of the foreboding and constant dull rumble of gunfire beyond the city which grew louder and louder with the passing months.  There was something in their bearing which betrayed an allegiance elsewhere.  Their minds were not set on earthly things.  There was about them the awesomeness of something which is indestructible.  Each was possessed by a peace and yet a pressing sense of vocation.  Graceful and slender young women, poised and confident, dressed in traditional crisp white blouses and black floor length sarongs, the red bound Scriptures clasped in their hands, burred here and there in bands of fours and fives, busy with business of the gospel of Christ crucified.

The perspiration shining on his animated face, arms extended, voice stringing above the city’s incessant noise and commotion, declaring the way of salvation to  and attentive crowd ….”

Excerpt from an article JOHN PILGER wrote of stricken society he found in Cambodia in 1979.  4 years after Year Zero.

… Year Zero had begun shortly after sunrise on April 17, 1975 when Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge guerrillas entered the capital, Phnom Penh. They wore black and marched in single file along the wide boulevards. At one o’clock, they ordered the city abandoned. The sick and wounded were forced at gunpoint from their hospital beds; families were separated; the old and disabled fell beside the road. “Don’t take anything with you,” the men in black ordered. “You will be coming back tomorrow.”

Tomorrow never came. An age of slavery began. Anybody who owned cars and such “luxuries”, anybody who lived in a city or town or had a modern skill, anybody who knew or worked with foreigners, was in grave danger; some were already under sentence of death. Out of the Royal Cambodian Ballet company of 500 dancers, perhaps 30 survived. Doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers were starved, or worked to death, or murdered. “

Fall of PP

Her history is never too far from my lips as a prefix to what fuels an industry of selling human beings for such despicable purposes.  I approached every April 17 with awe and wonder, with hesitation and respect, with throbbing pain and tears.  It’s a country who celebrates Khmer New Year every April.  It’s a country who, year after year, have today’s date ironed on their calendar in memory of a horrific history nearly 4 decades ago.  It’s a country who is still reaping the result of a brutal regime.  It’s a country who is trying to rebuild from its decimated structure. It’s a country who has a blurry line of division between very expensive sports cars flaunting on one side of the road and very ramshackle building that is rickety to one soft touch.  It’s a country with layers of traumas and healings, of victims and perpetrators, all intermingled on one another.

Personally, this is a country that I see my Lord Jesus more vividly alive than anywhere else.  This is a country that He takes captive of my thought and prayers and faith in Him than anything on earth.  This is a country that He shows His wounds and scars like no sorrow could compare.  This is a country that He used to call us out to live outside of comforts, walking against the current in every aspects of our lives.  This is a country that He would wake me up in wee small hour to pray for a face I have never met, yet the sorrow heaps in me heavily that I, at times, am afraid of my own family’s safety.  This is a country that He, time and time again, shows me that He calls me not because of my attempt to be winsome, but His attempt to win my total allegiance to His sovereignty and Lordship.  One writer puts this so vividly smelly, “I was a wretch. I was a starving ragged stinking prodigal wretch, still dripping with piggish muck, when he ran to kiss me. It was my desperate condition that awakened his compassion.”

To me, Cambodia is a country that is in such desperate condition that awakens His compassion in me that there is no other roads to walk but to enter into this narrow gate of pouring love and hope despite my own piggish muck dripping off from my clothes.  It’s through walking on this journey, the piggish muck will be washed away and become pristinely radiant, awash in His saving grace.  To heal the wounds of Cambodia, only our God’s wounds can speak.

Father Lord, For only there is one, You, who bear wounds by which Cambodia could be healed and saved.  Today is a day of mourning for a country whose wounds are insurmountable, but today is also a day of celebrating for Your grace is thicker than the blood that was shed.

Jesus’ wounds

If and when the doors are locked, thou drawst near.

Show your hands, that sign of thine.

We know today what wounds are.

Have no fear.

Show us your scars, we know the countersign.

The others gods were strong, thou was weak.

They rode, thou stumble to your throne.

But to our wounds, Only God’s wounds can speak.

Not a god has wounds, but thou alone.

Psalm 91:3-16 … He will cover You with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  You will not fear the terror of night; not the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.  You will not observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra, you will trample the great lion and the serpent.  Because he loves me, says the LORD.  I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me. and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him MY SALVATION.”

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