Like a branch on fire: Langham Preaching in Cambodia
Even with the political scene in Cambodia somewhat stabilized these days, leadership is not without its corruption and impunity. Prostitution and human trafficking are severe problems for this country of 11 million people. And the years of terrorism and civil war have contributed to more than 40% of population living below poverty level. Here in Cambodia, pastors are aching for help to give people a message of hope that they may not otherwise realize. In October 2010, Langham Preaching was able to reach out to 55 pastors in the area, from all over Cambodia, and offer sound biblical preaching training and resources to an over-eager group hungry for the Word, who were re-energized to lead their congregations with confidence.
Already orphaned, “T.H.” was a young teenager during the Khmer Rouge era. All his siblings died. His aunt escaped, becoming a Christian in a refugee camp on the Thai border, before emigrating to the U.S. Thirteen years later, she returned and led T.H. to faith in Christ. He is now an Anglican vicar and preaching seminar participant, and he happily returned home to his twelve lay preachers with fresh vision — “now I have so much more to give them.”
And midway through the seminar week, Khai Bunsong, from the province of Kratie, testified, “I have been looking for a more effective approach. This is it. I am like a branch that is on fire – but the fire may go out. What can I do?” Watching him run from the back of the room to receive his books on the final day seems to be a good start.
Then there was the response to Neil Watkinson of Singapore, working — against the backdrop of the notorious “killing fields” — through his Bible Overview sessions and reaching Revelation and the Second Coming. Participants responded to him, not with a few, quiet “hallelujahs,” but with spontaneous and boisterous sustained cheering and applause.
During one exposition, one participant spent the entire sixty minutes with arm outstretched recording the message on his cell phone.
Even the translators (Somnang and Sothea) relished the occasion, often operating in stereo — with one translating the spoken word, while the other worked with the written word on the whiteboard.
Stories such as these permeated the seminar, confirming the enthusiasm and motivation these church leaders have for sharing the true Word of God with their communities.
All together there were 55 leaders who gathered for the training, each with at least five years preaching experience. They came from across the denominations (Wesleyan, Baptist, Anglican, Khmer Evangelical…) and from fifteen of Cambodia’s provinces. Now, the task at hand for Langham Preaching is to not only make sure that the church leaders of Cambodia become like “branches on fire,” but also to ensure that the fire stays lit for generations to come.