From Killing Fields to Fields Ripe for Harvest

I just returned from an all-too-quick trip to Asia for first-hand reports on the growth of Christianity in Korea, Cambodia and Viet Nam.

As happens in all these trips I was amazed at the spiritual vibrancy of Asian churches and Christians, especially when compared to American Christianity.

THE KOREAN SUCCESS STORY

We started in Korea where a nation of 70 million people is now 33% Christian. There are 40,000 churches in South Korea and 10 of the worlds 11 largest churches are located in Seoul! This includes Paul Cho’s church of 600,000 with 24 satellite churches. 65% of all the Bibles in the world are printed in South Korea, 10,000 new pastors graduate from their seminaries each year and Korea has gone from sending 196 missionaries in 1988 to 11,500 today.

When you ask what happened in Korea and can it be replicated elsewhere in Asia they will tell you the following.

1) They possess a complete devotion to God. They are absolutely committed to their faith as the guiding priority in their life.

2) They PRAY! Their 5:30 AM prayer meetings are legendary. Each day they gather for a few hymns, a 20-minute biblically based sermon¢â‚¬¦and then they pray, Korean style. Korean style is a concert of prayer with everyone praying at the same time. We visited Pastor Paul Cho’s charismatic church and the prayer was loud and vigorous. We also visited the Myung Sung Presbyterian Church and the prayer time there was as spirited as the typical American AG church. (Did you know Presbyterians were allowed to pray so exuberantly?) They also pray and sing hymns on street corners, hotel lobbies, airports, parking lots¢â‚¬¦you get the picture. They pray everywhere.

3) They will tell you they owe an immense debt to missionaries who planted the seeds for the gospel. Many were martyred here and the soil was not responsive for a century, but the missionaries did not give up. In Seoul you can visit the missionary cemetery and read epitaphs like: “If I had a 1000 lives to give; Korea should have them all” or “I would rather be buried in Korea than in Westminster Abby.”

CAMBODIA AND VIET NAM: THE NEXT KOREA?

Our trip included Cambodia and a report from neighboring Viet Nam and here again the stories are stunning.

Like Korea, both these countries saw missionary martyrs and a small church threatened by war but actually growing during war.

Cambodia is known for the killing fields. A refresher on history. IN 1975 The Khmer Rouge renamed the country the Democratic Kampuchea, and established Pol Pot as the premier. Immediately following the takeover, Phnom Penh was evacuated, and the entire population of the country’s urban areas was forced to move to rural areas and work in agriculture. Most of the country’s vehicles and machines were destroyed because the new regime was opposed to technology and Western influence. It is estimated that about a million and a half people were executed by the Khmer Rouge over the next four years. Members of the upper, middle, or educated classes, Christians, as well as suspected enemies of the Khmer Rouge were victims of the genocide. Re-education camps were used to separate children from their parents and to indoctrinate the children, turning them to complete allegiance to the Khmer Rouge. To prove their loyalty children were ordered to kill those who refused to submit to the absolute authority of the Khmer Rouge.

A SEEKING POPULATION

Following the war people in Cambodia and Viet Nam needed hope. Buddhism with its threatening spirits was like a daily, lifelong horror movie. Communism was exposed as a hoax. Genocide revealed horrors and guilt that needed resolution. By nature analytical, these people had serious questions about where they came from, what their purpose and destiny might be, what happens when we die?

A GROWING CHURCH

The small church began sharing their hope in Jesus Christ, The Bible was important because seekers could read it, analyze, compare to Buddhist tradition. The very first verse of the Bible answered one of their most basic questions: “In the beginning GOD CREATED the heavens and the earth.”

On this trip we heard story after story of former Buddhists and even a former Buddhist monk whose lives have been transformed by the good news. It is light piercing through the darkness. The Killing Fields have become fields ripe for harvest!

Though virtually every Christian was killed in Cambodia during the killing fields, and though the church in Viet Nam was persecuted and driven underground, both have grown. Today in Cambodia 4 new churches are being planted every week and in Viet Nam there are over 1,000,000 members in the officially recognized church (CMA).

THE NEED FOR BIBLES

The Bible is central for evangelism, personal growth and the means for testing and proving what is true, yet there is a shortage of Bibles in these South East Asian nations.

I have committed my energies to securing 20,000 Bibles to be used specifically to assist the growing church in South East Asia. This is a huge challenge. Perhaps you would like to help?

$forty-eight dollars will provide a dozen Bibles. $two-hundred dollars will plant a church in one of thousands of villages.

To make your contribution call toll free 800-YES WORD or go to www.sendbiblesnow.com/kgnw

Please mention KGNW and the DICK STAUB Show when you make your pledge.

‚© CRS Communications, Dick Staub 2003

Posted in Staublog, Thoughts in September 24, 2003 by | No Comments »

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