Dear Christ Church,
This week Cliff & Christine Warner and Drew Smith will worship with brothers and sisters on the other side of the globe in Cambodia. The purpose of this trip, our third short-term to Cambodia, is to serve the church by creating space for renewal, rest, and equipping over the course of two different retreats. We also hope to listen well, deepen relationships, and seek the Lord together for His direction as we continue to develop this long-term global partnership with the Anglican Church of Cambodia.
Cambodia is an overwhelmingly Buddhist nation, fewer than 2% Christian. The story of the evangelical church here, beginning with Protestant missionary outreach in 1923, is one of slow growth marked by periods of severe suffering. At one point, following the brutal reign of the Khmer Rouge, which exterminated some 1.7 million Cambodians, the church was all but extinguished – only about 200 Christians remained in the entire country. But from that mustard seed, the kingdom continues to grow in Cambodian soil.
The Anglican Church in Cambodia is anchored by the Church of Christ our Peace (CCOP) in Phnom Penh. The Khmer congregation of CCOP is a small flock pastored by the nation’s only ordained Anglican priest, Rev. Tit Hieng. Rev. Hieng, a former government bodyguard who grew up under Pol Pot’s regime and didn’t attend school until he was 18, is a passionate evangelist. He loves to gather large crowds in the countryside for open-air meetings, where he preaches the gospel boldly. In addition to pastoring CCOP, Rev. Hieng also mentors several lay pastors who lead small rural churches. Next week, all of these pastors will gather from around Cambodia for a time of renewal and training, with Christ Church assisting our sister congregation, Restoration Anglican (Arlington, VA), for this retreat. Pray with us that the Cambodian pastors will be refreshed and encouraged as they minister in circumstances of extreme poverty, spiritual darkness, and cultural hostility.
The Christ Church team also will lead a silent retreat for members of CCOP International, which is the English-speaking congregation in Phnom Penh. The majority of CCOP’s 180 parishioners are missionaries and NGO workers — women like Kimberly, Becki and Rachel who work to protect, and sometimes rescue, children in an area once known as the “pedophile capital of the world,” where crushing poverty, broken family structures, and lack of educational opportunity place children in grave danger of being trafficked. Please pray that these women, and other CCOP members who labor in similarly oppressive contexts, will be refreshed and renewed by the feast set before them in God’s presence at the silent retreat.
It is our joy to partner with both Cambodian leaders and long-term missionaries as we pray that the mustard seed of the Kingdom will grow into a mighty tree whose branches give shade and a nesting place to the entire nation of Cambodia.
Watch for a Cambodia prayer insert in your bulletin this Sunday at church!
Grace & Peace,