Fort Worth Assemblies of God evangelist Michael D. Evans fled after two days of a scheduled five-day crusade in Phnom Penh because of threats to his life.
International ministry director Greg Mauro says 180,000 attended the opening two stadium rallies November 23 and 24 in the first publicly advertised crusade in Cambodia since the end of the Vietnam War. There are an estimated 5,000 evangelical Christians in the nation of 8 million, which is 87 percent Buddhist.
Mauro says police told him 10 Khmer Rouge members had entered the stadium November 25 with explosives, intending to blow up Evans and his seven-member team. The Marxist Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, murdering more than 2 million people.
Police evacuated the stadium before the service began, and Evans retreated to his hotel. The Phnom Penh Post reported that many rural Cambodians had sold possessions to pay for a trip to the crusade. "Realizing that 'miracle' cures would not be visited on everyone in the stadium, they resorted to physical violence," the paper said. "Youths tore down Evans's signs, kicking and beating his portrait with sticks and stones."
Meanwhile, Mauro says, an unruly mob of 300 assembled outside the hotel, yelling, "We want to kill Mike Evans." Police secretly escorted Evans and his crew to a flight for Bangkok, saying they could not guarantee his safety.
Police arrested 30 suspects at the stadium, including several with handguns and grenades. Mauro suspects the hotel throng had been inspired by the Khmer Rouge in an effort to embarrass the government.
But some Christian leaders suggest those who gathered were disgruntled because they had seen or heard Evans's radio and television commercials promoting miraculous healings.
"People were ...1