Psalm 74:20- "Have respect unto the covenant; for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty."
If there ever were a spiritually dark place in this world, it would be the country of Cambodia. The Gospel first reached Cambodia in 1923 when David Ellison went in as the first evangelical Christian missionary. From the time the Gospel entered Cambodia until the Khmer Rouge took over the country in 1975, very few Cambodians turned from Buddhism, animism, demonism, and ancestor worship to Christ. The number of Christians in Cambodia on April 17, 1975- the day of the Khmer Rouge victory- was approximately 10,000, not even one percent of the country.
In addition to the educated class, the Khmer Rouge also targeted religious people of all types. Before 1975, there were thousands of Buddhist monks in the country. By 1979, there were only about 50 Buddhist monks who were still alive. Of the 10,000 Christians, it is estimated that 90 percent of them perished in the "Killing Fields."
Throughout the 1980's, the Khmer Rouge were fighting another brutal civil war with the Vietnamese-installed government in an attempt to regain their power, and Cambodia remained shut off from the rest of the world. In 1994, Cambodia finally opened its doors to outside influences, and missionaries re-entered for the first time since 1974.
Yes, the Gospel reached Cambodia in 1923; but what little presence of the Gospel that was there was almost completely annihilated during the "Killing Fields." The missionaries who entered Cambodia in the mid 1990's- missionaries like Rodney Ruppel- came into a country that had been without a strong Gospel witness for twenty years. Additionally, these missionaries had the responsibility of ministering to a people who had been through genocide and corruption unparalleled by any other country in history.
Because of its oppressive spiritual darkness, Cambodia is "full of the habitations of cruelty." It is one of the top countries in the world for the heinous practice of child prostitution. In Cambodia, honesty is not seen as a virtue, but rather as a weakness. To say that the government is corrupt would be a drastic understatement. Indeed, Cambodia is a country in desperate need of the "light of the glorious Gospel of Christ." Please pray for us as we carry the light to this dark place.