Khmer is not an easy language,” Kate Shellnutt told me after her reporting trip to Cambodia for this month’s cover story. “English transliteration doesn’t really resemble the Khmer pronunciation.” And the words for hello, thank you, and yeah only get you so far when attempting to give directions. Still, her tuk-tuk driver smiled, nodded, and indicated that he knew where she wanted to go. And then, every day, “he’d just take me somewhere Christian: a church, a Christian daycare, a Christian NGO,” she said. “He had picked up that I kept going to Christian places for my reporting. He’d point to the sign and be like, ‘Here it is! Christian!’ I kept having to say, actually it’s not this church or this NGO, and had to get someone to explain to him.”
But the driver understood that those churches and ministries were all one big thing. Soon enough, Kate understood it, too. “I attend a Christian and Missionary Alliance church in Augusta, Georgia, and (as I mention in the article) the CMA is a big deal in Cambodia because of its long missionary history and its evangelism at the refugee camps. Several times, I’d ask a Cambodian where they went to church or how they came to Christ. When they’d say, ‘CMA,’ it was so special to say, ‘Me too!’ and have that moment of connection with people half a world away. I didn’t meet too many American NGO workers—maybe 12 to 15 total—but two of them had connections with my former church back in Houston and we had mutual friends!”
A world of hundreds of millions of Christians can seem remarkably small at times. The nerves and sinews of the Body of Christ ...1
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