Barnabas Mam preaching to the Suoy people

New Life in Christ for the Suoy People

The Joshua Project estimates that there are about 1,600 Suoy in Cambodia. This people group has its own language but most people also understand Khmer. Most are animist in their beliefs, worshipping spirits to whom they offer sacrifices in order to appease them. The Joshua Project puts the number of Christians among the Suoy at 1.5%, or 24 persons.

Recently, a CCC team had the privilege of accompanying pastors and a church planter from the Association of Living Hope in Christ Churches on a visit to a Suoy village near Phnom Aoral, Cambodia’s highest mountain. We were joined by our long-time friend Barnabas Mam, one of the pioneers of the Cambodian church, who was to speak to a gathering of Suoy adults and children.

Having reached Aoral District, we drove through steady rain along a further 20 miles of muddy, uneven roads to the village. We prayed that the rain would stop so as not to hinder people from attending the meeting and hearing the good news of Jesus. As we arrived, the rain petered out and did not start again until Barnabas had finished speaking.

Starting from the existing beliefs of the people, Barnabas delivered a humorous but compelling presentation of the Christian message. At the conclusion of his talk he invited any who wished to put their trust in Jesus Christ and turn to Him from spirit worship to signify their intention. 42 adults and a similar number of children did so. If they were all born again the percentage of Suoy Christians has increased from 1.5% to nearly 7%.

The CCC team contributed nothing to this outreach other than our prayers and encouragement. Even after, say, 20 years of language and cultural study we could not have achieved what Barnabas (in the power of the Holy Spirit) did in a single hour. We came away humbled and renewed in our conviction that the people best able to reach Cambodia for Christ are the Cambodian Christians. Khmer can reach Khmer, but they can also cross barriers to other people groups in their country far more effectively than could an expatriate missionary.

Seng BouAddheka

If on this Earth There Are Angels

Book coverMs Seng BouAddheka has been a good friend of CCC since its inception. Her courage and determination in the face of disability have been an inspiration and the sacrificial service  she has given her people has demonstrated how Cambodians with sufficient motivation can change their country without relying on hand-outs from outside their country.

Now Addheka has published the story of her life. She recounts how as a child disabled by polio she was surrounded by full and half siblings. Then comes a tragic and moving account of her experiences as a teenager during the Pol Pot regime, when she lost her parents and most of the rest of her family to disease, starvation and execution. Finally, Addheka describes her struggle to help contribute to the rebuilding her country’s infrastructure, her battles against prejudice, the story of the formation of the Khmer School of Language and the life-transforming work of her Aid Projects of Mercy.

Addheka’s autobiography not only relates the story of a courageous woman’s triumph over many forms of adversity but is also infused with a narrative of her spiritual journey culminating in her discovery of the God of the Bible.

If on this Earth There Are Angels is available for purchase from Amazon and other retailers.

Taing Chhirc

Forty Years Ago: Part 9

In the year leading up to the fortieth anniversary of the fall of Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge on 17 April 1975 we are publishing extracts from the newsletters produced by Cambodia for Christ.

This is the final newsletter in our possession, and it is probably the last to be issued before the fall of Phnom Penh.

Newsletter 9, March 1975

“So take courage! For I believe God!” Acts 27: 25 (Living Bible)

As news comes through about the continuing ravaging of Cambodia, we need to set our hope on God, recognising that He reigns all-powerful over the nations of this world. No one knows how the suffering of the Khmer people will end, but we know that God has a plan for His people there. They have been through many trials over the past years and now the threat of renewed persecution and suffering looms near again. We encourage you to keep on praying,  all is not lost, God has been at work in a wonderful way during these war years, and the Khmer believers continue to have many opportunities to share their faith and hope in the living Lord Jesus.

Only a handful of medical missionaries remain in Phnom Penh, please remember them, praying for strength of body and mind, for opportunities to witness, and for adequate supplies of medicine and food to be available for them to continue their work.

Taped message received from AW, missionary now in Bangkok, recorded Friday, 28 February 1975

I and the four other … missionaries who have been working in Phnom Penh, the capital of the Khmer Republic, were evacuated this week from Phnom Penh to Bangkok by the United States Embassy, so that means that AB and REC from the United States, AC, A and A from England, and DC from Canada, have all been evacuated, along with 15 missionaries of the … and three small children.

Why were we evacuated?

Last week the head of the … was here in Bangkok, and, in consultation with Embassy officials, he deemed it necessary to send a strongly worded telegram to the … missionaries in Phnom Penh, telling them to evacuate within five days without any options. You can imagine that this was a big job, to say goodbye, to make over powers of attorney for mission vehicles and properties to the Khmer Evangelical Church, but this has been done and all the missionaries have come out, though there are many other expatriate people still living in Phnom Penh. The decision was an easy one to make because it had been made by somebody outside the country. There was no decision for us to make, but it has been a very difficult decision to take to leave the Church behind, leave behind those that we remember, their names, their faces, their voices.

We do want to thank many of you that you have been praying for the Khmer Republic and its people at this time and I would ask you to continue to pray for them even though the missionaries have come out. Our plans are to rest for a few days then to meet together in conference and then, if the situation looks promising, we shall continue to do language study in Bangkok, or somewhere outside the country, until we can return. Nobody really knows what the future is but we do look to God to do a miracle to save this country, but we wait to see what God will do, so please continue to pray.

What is the situation like?

All the roads into Phnom Penh have been blocked for some time, and earlier this year the river became impassable because many of the banks were in the hands of those opposed to the Government. The river had been mined and some vessels had been sunk, so that, at the moment, it is impossible for ships to bring supplies up the river. The price of rice has continued to rise and is now four times the price it was when I first went into the Khmer Republic eleven months ago. There is a fuel shortage, electricity been reduced to a few hours every other day. There are many new refugees, there is malnutrition, particularly amongst the children in the refugee areas. There has arisen an anti-Chinese feeling and in Battambang, which I visited last August, near the Thai border in the northeast, some Khmer went into the Chinese stores and brought out their possessions and burnt them including money. They said it was tainted. We do need to pray particularly for the Chinese Christians that they will be protected. The Khmer killed many Vietnamese in 1970 and we do not want to see this sort of thing happening again.

Letter from Taing Chhirc

AW concludes his message…

Finally, the following letter was written by Major Chhirc Taing and given to us as we left on the aeroplane during the evacuation this week. He is a young Cambodian who came to study in Britain, but when he arrived in Britain he read. these words: “He that saveth his life shall lose it, but he that loseth his life for My sake shall save it.” This was a verse which so spoke to him that he knew that he must return to his own country. It was through him that Cambodia for Christ was formed, which has helped many of us to see the situation in that country.

To my dear missionary friends,

“Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” he, Elisha, cried out, and the waters parted and Elisha went across. 2 Kings 2: 14 (Living Bible).

This verse tells how hard it was for the young man Elisha to be left behind, while the old and powerful prophet of the Lord, Elijah, is taken away. Where is the Lord God of Elijah? This is also the cry of the young Khmer Church leaders at the moment. Elijah had been sent by God to the Israeli nation during the dark reign of its evil King Ahab. Despite the mighty miracles Elijah had performed the people had not changed their heart from sins when the time came for Elljah to be taken to heaven and the young Elisha had to carry on the mission during the dark days in Israel, but Elisha’s special request of God’s power was granted. The spirit of Elijah arrests upon Elisha, and they went to meet him and greeted him respectfully, v 15.

Dear Friends, do remember us in your prayers as we Khmer Christians are left behind to continue the task in the difficult days ahead. We do need God’s greater power and wisdom as Elisha did. Please pray for us and ask God to give us the right words as we boldly tell our agonising people about the Lord, and as we explain to them that this salvation is for them now. May God add many more souls to His young Church in the Khmer Republic and let it grow stronger until the day of His return.

Your servant in the Lord,

(Signed) Chhirc.

A further letter from Taing Chhirc

12 March 1975

The prayer letters ‘Cambodia for Christ’ have been a blessing to many Christians in many countries since they have started praying and interceding for us. We are grateful to them. Kindly send our grateful thoughts to dear friends who have been praying for us in these days of troubles and suffering. The Church here is very active giving God’s message through the official radio stations asking people to fast and pray. The response has been good.

Our land has become a desolate wasteland. Our streets and our homes lie in silent darkness each night from 7 pm. At daytime there is fear of danger. Rockets fall right at the city centre killing people and destroying shops and houses almost every day. Many people have deserted us.

This is the situation of Phnom Penh in March 1975. It reminds me of Jeremiah 9: 1-2 ‘Oh, that my eyes were a fountain of tears; I would weep forever; I would sob day and night for the slain of my people! Oh, that I could go away and forget them and live in some wayside shack in the desert, for they are all adulterous, treacherous men.’ (Living Bible)

However there is the only hope for our future as in Jeremiah 31: 3-5 ‘For long ago the Lord had said to Israel: I have loved you, O my people, with an everlasting love; with loving kindness I have drawn you to me. I will rebuild your nation, O virgin of Israel. You will again be happy and dance merrily with the timbrels. Again you will plant your vineyards upon the mountains of Samaria and eat from your own gardens there.’

We appreciate your prayer and intercession for us in these days of troubles and suffering in Phnom Penh.

With our warmest greetings,



As noted in the introduction to this series, a month after writing this letter Taing Chhirc was beaten to death by Khmer Rouge soldiers. His widow and daughter were still in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Forty Years Ago: Part 8

In the year leading up to the fortieth anniversary of the fall of Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge on 17 April 1975 we are publishing extracts from the newsletters produced by Cambodia for Christ.

Newsletter 8, February 1975

Sine January 1st the Khmer capital of Phnom Penh has felt the brunt of the New Year offensive by anti-government forces. Daily rocket attacks, artillery shelling and mortar fire have pounded the city and many have been killed or injured. “Almost constant booms and rumblings fill the air,” writes a missionary. “We have heard of many new refugees fleeing to the city, including Cham people, and others who didn’t make it.” The international airport has been hit by rockets, and barges bringing supplies up the Mekong river have sometimes been attacked and sunk. Necessities such as rice and fuel have been affected as supply routes are attacked resulting in shortages in the city.

Pray for the Khmer people. Especially remember our brethren in Christ. Pray also for the missionary personnel. How hard it is to really understand what it must be like to be surrounded, continually wondering where the next shell will fall. May God’s people know His peace and the assurance of His Word that “their times are in His hands”. He will not fail them.

Agreement has been reached between one remaining Vietnamese Christian family still in Phnom Penh and the Khmer congregation using the Vietnamese Church to convert the ground floor of the former parsonage into a well stocked Christian bookstore.

There are now twenty-eight Sunday Schools in the capital. Last month classes for teens began. Scripture Press teen lessons are being translated to meet the need.

A Bible Class in English sponsored by the Chinese Church in Phnom Penh attracted over a hundred students and business people. Several have professed salvation as a result of the classes. Daniel Lam, from Hong Kong, is the Church’s pastor.

The first Christian hospital (a joint project of World Vision and the C. & M.A.) should be ready for patients in April. Pray for this testimony to the love of Christ.

During the latter part of 1974 a number of Khmer in the vicinity of Cantho in South Vietnam prayed to receive Christ. Some of them were contacted during a leadership training session in which participants spent two and a half afternoons in personal witness.

With provincial dignitaries and Khmer speaking Christians from other parts of the province in attendance, the first church among the Khmer in Thailand was dedicated at Surin. Four other groups of Khmer-speaking believers hope to build churches in the near future.

The Cambodian Herald

The Cambodian Herald

The latest edition of our newsletter, Issue 18 of the Cambodian Herald is available for download.

In this issue:

  • Immanuel: God with Us
  • Children of Cambodia
    • The Dump Kids: A Success Story
    • Why Are You Crying, Little Girl?
    • Poor Families Helping Themselves
  • What They Can Achieve with Your Help
    • PA to the Director
    • Effortorious Maximus
    • ‘I Love My New School’
    • A Women of Faith
    • Ten Years’ Study Rewarded
    • Keep Her Alive, Keep Her Safe
  • Sharing Our Vision
  • “How Can I Support CCC?”

Please contact us if you would to receive a printed copy of this issue or go on our mailing list.

The members of the Council of Cambodian Communities out of Crisis send our warmest good wishes at this Christmas season to all our friends and supporters.

We thank all those who have kindly given to our work in the past year and those who helped make it possible for some of us to visit Cambodia in October.

We wish you peace and joy as you celebrate the birth of the Baby at Bethlehem, who was and is Immanuel: God with us.