I have said for some time now that every American needs to get out of this country at least once and visit another country (outside of Europe, etc). Wow, never did I realize how much our eyes are turned inward. In to our country and culture, in to our own lives, into our own way of “doing” Christianity. Traveling abroad really can shake those views up – in a very exciting and new way. Faith becomes alive and vibrant again!
the one true God
We were sitting under a pavilion on the property where we housed some of the girls we had rescued. I was surrounded by the Khmer staff and they were excited to begin their weekly staff devotions again. One of the house sisters was leading the discussion and they were all sharing about how God was blessing them with the specific positions they held with the organization we were serving with. It was a joy to hear their praises. Just to my right sat one of our newest social workers and he was translating into English what all the staff were saying in Khmer. The phrase that began to crop up in all of their testifying was praise to “the one true God”. As I heard this phrase translated over and again, I began to realize that I just took for granted that everyone knew there was only one true God. I mean, America was founded on godly principles…yadda yadda yadda…and all that – didn’t everyone realize that there was only one true God? But that is where my homeland’s culture was clashing with the culture in which I was living. There wasn’t just one god in Cambodia, there were many spirits that needed appeased and a variety of methods to do that. But the Christians with whom I sat all had found their gift of undeniable faith in that one true God. What an encouragement these young believers were to me and my faith.
praying in one accord
The other significant facet of the Khmer Christian faith is how they pray. I have shared this with some people, but it is worth stating again. When they invite one another to pray, they all pray…out loud…at the same time. The scenario is something like this: there is an invitation to pray and then whoever is leading begins to pray. The others begin to pray softly at first but the prayers build in intensity and in crescendo. There is a fervency in these Khmer prayer sessions that is lacking in many of the western churches I have been a part of. At first I felt self conscious praying in that manner. But after a short while, I began to really focus on what I was saying to God and found myself calling out to him as never before. I didn’t have to “worry” about how I sounded or what I said, because frankly, no one else was listening – we were all praying in one accord. It was powerful and encouraging. After a time of praying together, there were would people who would be wrapping up their prayers, and finally, one by one all would finish. The last one praying would end their prayer in Jesus name and all would say “Amen!”.
There are many things I miss about Cambodia. The most precious are the staff members whom we worked with on a daily basis. They were all passionate believers in Jesus Christ and lived life in a way that demonstrated their love for Him and others. They “do” Christianity differently – but I loved every aspect of it. I feel that my faith is richer due to their wealth of faith.