Forty Years Ago: Part 5

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 4, May 1974

This month in Cambodia the monsoon rains began to fall, bringing to a halt until October most of the military activity – perhaps a time of peace for a while. Life goes on as normal for the Khmer people accustomed now to the signs of war in their midst: soldiers, refugees, curfews and power cuts. The past three years have seen progress and some setbacks for the government of Cambodia in the defence of their country. Though the communists are strong in the rural areas and have conscripted many Cambodians for their “liberation” army, they have had few major successes, and their two campaigns to take the capital of Phnom Penh have failed after many predictions that it would fall. In three years the Khmer Rouge have only succeeded in taking one provincial capital, the small but historically significant town of Oudong, once the Royal Capital, a town of about 50,000 people lying about 24 miles north-west of Phnom Penh. Oudong fell in March this year. The bombing of Phnom Penh’s suburbs which caused panic and confusion and led to the exodus of many foreigners stopped after a month due to heavy shelling of the communist position by government forces. The Khmer army is beginning to regain confidence and it seems as if the present situation could continue indefinitely, with neither side able to gain complete victory.

Missionaries in Phnom Penh report that although the war has had its effect, military-wise it is calmer than expected and rocket scars are not as evident as the news media would lead one to think. The airport was 90% destroyed in 1970, but today you would not detect that it had been hit. Malnutrition amongst refugees is one of the biggest problems and although many relief agencies are at work, refugees do not have the money to buy proper food and the children especially are suffering.

All Cambodians are aware of the serious political and economic situation. Khmer Christians are praying, that there may be many more years of opportunity to share their faith with their own people. One young Cambodian when asked if he was prepared to stand for his faith in the event of a hostile takeover said he was, and that he fully expected to be behind bars one day because of his love for Jesus Christ. It is commonly felt among Christians in Cambodia that a regime hostile to Christianity could put the Cambodian Church back into the shadows once again. Christians need to remember this tiny land of seven million people and its small, but growing Church. In letters from Khmer Christians they always plead that we urge the Body of Christ everywhere to pray for Cambodia and the Christian witness there. Will you pray?

Note

We do not have a copy of Newsletter 5, so the next extracts to be published will be from Newsletter 6, first issued in October 1974.

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