From 28-29 January, the 100th anniversary of Protestant Christianity in Cambodia was celebrated during the Cambodia Gospel Centennial Celebration in Phnom Penh. This event was held for the first time in the history of Cambodia. Exhibitions, concerts and dances, children’s activities, food, prayer and gatherings filled the festival’s program, where thousands of Christians from throughout Cambodia came to lift up the name of Jesus.
DPM’s mission at this event was to pass the right message through DPM books to pastors and leaders to support their spiritual ministries. We prepared books such as the Self-Study Bible Course, Spiritual Warfare, What’s So Important About the Cross, By Grace Alone and Set Apart for God. In total we gave out 4,000 books over two days.
“I love these materials”
Mrs. Maria Chin, who is a Cambodian living in the United States, came to visit her hometown in the Battambang province. She has supported churches in Battambang, Svay Rieng and Prey Veng provinces. When she walked by our station and saw the books by Derek Prince, she said: “I know and love these materials! I use them in the U.S.”
She asked for five copies of each book to give out to her church partners in Cambodia and will also take some to Khmer Christians in the U.S. to let them know these materials are translated into the Khmer language. We introduced her to our website and Facebook pages for more of Derek’s Bible teaching which she can use for churches.
Pastor Pot Pheap, a teacher at the YWAM Bible School in Battambang brought along hundreds of students to join in the Centennial Celebration and they were very excited to receive our books.
Some of the teachers came to us for copies of Spiritual Warfare as they would like to use it in their curriculum at the YWAM Bible School. They shared about DPM’s ministry with the students and most of them follow Derek’s lessons for spiritual growth and teach this to many in the younger generation.
One man came and asked for Derek's books. He said that he used to study hrough Derek Prince's lessons during his studies at a Bible school in Indonesia, with the result that it changed his life and ministry.
Another man heard he was reading the book Spiritual Warfare and was interested. He lso studies at a Bible school in Indonesia, where most of the lessons are from Derek Prince. He would now like to use them in his ministries in Cambodia. He was excited to see these materials translated into the Khmer language.
Christianity in Cambodia
The history of Christianity in Cambodia is a story of triumph over adversity, in a nation with a Buddhist population of approximately 95 percent. Cambodia’s Christian population grew more than any country in Southeast Asia from 2000 to 2015; and by 2020, almost 3 percent of its population was Christian.
In 1923, two American missionary couples from the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) arrived in Phnom Penh to translate the Bible into the Khmer language. Previously, the British Bible Society had sent a Bible translator to Phnom Penh and when the book of Luke was translated, it was received with great enthusiasm. Even Buddhist monks bought the book of Luke to study. However, the French colonial government opposed the distribution of the translation. In 1923, the CMA missionaries picked up the work again. They finished translating the New Testament by 1933 and the whole Bible in 1953.
The arrival of the Khmer Rouge in 1975 brought a dark chapter to Cambodia's history, as the regime waged a brutal campaign of terror and extermination against the population. Within 4 years, the Khmer Rouge had killed an estimated 2 million people, most famously in the “killing fields.” 90% of Christians and all Christian leaders were martyred or were forced to flee.
Despite the devastation of the Khmer Rouge, the Cambodian Church emerged from the ashes, rebuilding itself and continuing to spread the gospel. Today, the Protestant Church in Cambodia has grown to become a thriving community, with tens of thousands of members across the country, who form become a beacon of hope, inspiring people from all walks of life to come to know Jesus and to live out their faith in the midst of a challenging world.
Making disciples of Jesus in Cambodia
DPM-Cambodia Outreach Director, Huy, is one of the people whose family was deeply impacted by the war. It was only God’s grace that brought a change in their lives. Today, Huy is serving the Lord in Cambodia through Derek Prince Ministries, driven by a passion to ‘reach the unreached and teach the untaught’.
Huy advices, “DPM has a vital role to provide essential discipleship materials as well as basic teaching resources such as proclamation cards and teaching booklets. Cambodia’s population is mainly Buddhist, and with 50% of the population younger than 22 years old, the younger generation desperately needs mature Christians and sound Bible teaching material to train them. Pastors need access to resources that help them in their own spiritual growth that they can share with their congregations.”
“Please give me one…!”
Huy and his team are also reaching out to prisoners. Huy says, “I love using the Self-Study Bible Course in prison ministry. I will never forget one Christmas outreach, where we were giving away the Self Study Bible Course to inmates. The number of prisoners increased so much that I didn't have enough copies. The prisoners who didn't get a copy, begged me: ‘Please give me one, give me one.’ But I didn't have anything left to give. Their voices broke my heart.”
As Cambodian Christians celebrate this anniversary, let us pray for them. Let us be inspired by the faith and determination of Christian missionaries and workers like Huy who have taken the Gospel to Cambodia, and let us recommit ourselves to sharing the love of Jesus with those around us.