One of the greatest pleasures I take in life is teaching young Christians so that they have a larger view of the world, equipping them with knowledge that will help them be successful in this global “Christian Economy” of God’s mission in the world. English is the official second language of the nation and the Christian Church has grown tremendously the last 20 years in part because of the commitment of Christians to learn English. English opens up partnerships all over the world, from the U.S.A. to Canada, Austrailia, Britain, and even South Korea. I believe it is these relationships that helped to train and equip pastors so quickly in Cambodia.
And today, these partnerships are more important than ever, but Cambodia truly is no longer in need of the traditional missionary. Cambodia, still a very poor country, is in need of our financial support, not American agendas.
The finest young men and women of the nation have taken up the call to ministry. Some are pastors, others are teachers and principals, others worship leaders and administrators. God has blessed the Cambodian Church with every gift.
In fact, not many American Churches enjoy this “outpouring of the spirit,” this kind of blessing. I for one have not served as pastor in a single Church that knows Jesus and loves Jesus the same as these Christians of Cambodia.
Maybe that’s because I’ve spent most of my life as a Lutheran, I don’t know.
Mega Churches? They don’t get Jesus the way the Christians in Cambodia get Jesus. Multi-staff parishes? That’s more form over substance than it is Jesus as Lord of Lords and King of Kings. The pastors making 80k a year in the average American Church? You will be hard pressed to find one that works as hard and with as much commitment as the Cambodian pastor earning $150 a month. And oftentimes that poor American Pastor, well kept, is dying of boredom in congregations that have the laziest leadership known to man- positions given to them by birth-right, because their daddy bought some chairs 50 years ago, rather than according to their spiritual gifts.
And the so-called “power is in the local congregations” that denominations like Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ seem to incessantly proclaim when it suits the national leadership, carry no responsibility for the success or failure of the ministries they serve. Their hands are always clean because they get the big bucks to not get dirty. Sure they plan one gathering a year and one leadership conference a year. But why are all their churches dying?
I certainly don’t want to romanticize the Cambodian Church. Some sectors are fraught with difficulties, particularly when American Missionaries get involved, but the American Church runs after an idealism much the same as the American Socialists chase after a Communist utopia that is forever out of grasp.
Here, as in much of the world outside the United States, Jesus is the ideal. They are doing what Christians in America, at least in my corner of American Lutheranism, are faithlessly terrified to do.
They are following Jesus.