Cambodians Usher in a Miraculous Moment for Christianity
Image: Claire Eggers

Dozens of pastors crowded around Hun Sen with smartphones extended, snapping selfies to commemorate the Cambodian prime minister’s first-ever meeting with local Christians.

The government session with 2,500 church leaders last summer was a significant gesture in an overwhelmingly Buddhist nation where Christians were martyred and forced underground only a few decades ago.

Hun’s meeting “was a historic event that never happened before,” said Tep Samnang, executive director of the Evangelical Fellowship of Cambodia (EFC), an interdenominational network representing most of the country’s believers. “It’s a sign that [the government] accepts the Christian community more publicly.”

While persecution still percolates in other Southeast Asian countries, Cambodian Christians enjoy a promising sense of openness from leaders and neighbors.

“You are at peace, and I appeal to all religions in Cambodia not to harass you or your sects,” Hun told the pastors gathered in a luxe city hall in Koh Pich, the fast-developing “Diamond Island” in the center of the capital, Phnom Penh. Though Christians were not allowed to pray or share remarks during the meeting, Tep said, “at least it’s a spark to keep the fire burning.”

Christians remain a small-but-growing 2.5 percent of the 16 million people living in the former communist nation, where gold-trimmed temple rooftops twirl over both city skylines and rural landscapes. The temples serve as gathering places for dozens of nationally observed Buddhist festivals throughout the year.

But Cambodia finally has a generation of church leaders with the training and freedom to evangelize on a nationwide scale—and these ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

June
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
From Issue:
Read These Next
Also in this IssueEugene Peterson: The Pursuit of Happiness Is a Dead-End Street
Eugene Peterson: The Pursuit of Happiness Is a Dead-End Street Subscriber Access Only
How Ecclesiastes shows a better way to joyful living than chasing pleasure
RecommendedFundamentalists, Modernists, and the Rest of the Story
Fundamentalists, Modernists, and the Rest of the Story
Early 20th-century evangelical history was more than two camps lobbing grenades at each other.
TrendingThe Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
The Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
How the former FBI director’s interest in Reinhold Niebuhr shaped his approach to political power.
Editor's PickSasse: Adolescence Is a Gift, but Extended Adolescence Is a Trap
Ben Sasse: Adolescence Is a Gift, but Extended Adolescence Is a Trap
The Nebraska senator wants parents to get serious about shepherding kids into responsible adulthood.
Christianity Today
Cambodians Usher in a Miraculous Moment for Christianity
hide thisJune June

In the Magazine

June 2017

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.