A new start in Cambodia
Colin Macpherson, Langham Literature
Cambodia, what comes to mind when hearing this name?
Perhaps ancient temples, Buddhism, humanitarian aid, poverty, corruption, Hollywood adoptions, the Ho Chi Minh trail, carpet bombing are some of the possibilities. In reality, present day Cambodia boasts a growing population of nearly 14 million people. Life for these people in the last 30 years has been an enormous struggle to overcome multitudes of obstacles. Years of war left the land and its people devastated and possessing little hope. Only in the last 10 to 15 years has any sense of normality been restored. True progress has been painfully slow as Cambodians try to pick their way through new minefields of corruption and exploitation in an effort to move forward. But it is moving forwards, away from the ‘Killing Fields’ of the past towards a bright future.
Seeing it for ourselves
It was our privilege to visit Cambodia and meet some of the believers earlier this year. We were amazed at their warmth and friendliness and genuine delight to have us. The focus of our visit was to spend time with the people at Fount of Wisdom (FoW) publishing house in Phnom Penh. We wanted to understand their context, encourage them to keep going, share what we could about making publishing work, and see if there are any ways we could help materially. Over the last three years Langham has already supported FoW in the production of several important titles. But it is clear that that the need is significant and that FoW needs investment and mentoring over an extended period, in order to meet the need in the longer term.
Ripe for Publishing
It is a country that is ripe for good indigenous publishing: a church that desperately needs resources, first generation believers eager to grow and reach out, preachers with nothing to help them study and prepare.
After decades of tribulation, there has been an outpouring of God’s grace. It seems the soil was being prepared through the dark years. The number of believers in Cambodia has mushroomed from around 200 to approximately 250,000 in less than 20 years. Unfortunately this growing Church has not yet been adequately discipled and believers have been thrust into leadership roles before truly understanding what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Fount of Wisdom sees its role in providing appropriate leadership and discipleship materials as a key component in the maturing and multiplication of the Church in Cambodia. Langham’s Preaching program has already started the huge task of mentoring first generation preachers in Cambodia, so it is vital that preachers are equipped with the necessary literature resources. There is also a growing interest in personal development among the younger generation in Cambodia, Christian and non-Christian – a search for guidance in a rapidly changing world. FoW aims to publish selected books which address these needs, while communicating Biblical principles for living.
Our prayer was twofold:
1) that God would clearly show whether or not there was meaningful help Langham could give in the longer term, and
2) to help build strong relationships with the believers at FoW.
Both of these were answered very positively. Cambodian Christians are easy to like and we loved being with them. However, it is an extremely difficult context for Christian publishing and if we had not been so convinced of God’s leading and providence, we would naturally decline involvement. But the need is great, and the door is open to this ministry. Give thanks for Langham’s involvement over recent years providing funds for a number of FoW published titles. Please pray for God’s blessing to be above and beyond our limited vision.
The Road Ahead
Publisher development will not be easy in Cambodia, and we have a long list of development priorities and training needs for FoW. Pray for their manager, Tim, who feels very out of his depth. Pray for creative and imaginative ways to reach readers. Pray for wisdom in understanding their readers and choosing appropriate titles. Pray that God would bless their efforts to nurture Cambodian writers. Langham Preaching and Langham Literature will work in tandem to invest our energies in the Cambodian church. Early titles we have promised to find funds for include:
- How to Read the Bible (M Tay)
- IVP New Bible Dictionary
- What Christ Thinks of the Church (Stott)
- Habakkuk—From Why to Worship (J Lamb)
- Preaching: God’s Big Picture (Phil Crowter)
- By the Book, Volumes 1&2 (N Bernardino)
- John’s Gospel, Water of Life (D Painter)