Forty Years Ago: Part 1

In 1972, Major Taing Chhirc, a Christian officer in the Khmer National Armed Forces and General Secretary of the Cambodian Evangelical Church, left Cambodia along with his pregnant wife Bophana to study in the UK. In 1973, the pastor of Bethlehem Church, Sem Bun, wrote to Chhirc asking him to return to Cambodia, where the church was growing rapidly and needed his help. Before leaving the UK, Chhirc spoke at the Keswick Convention. He appealed to British Christians to get behind Cambodia in prayer and support. To this end, Chhirc’s British friends Paul and Helen Penfold, formed Cambodia for Christ, now Cambodia Action.

Chhirc left his wife and child in Edinburgh, UK, while he remained in Cambodia until the Khmer Rouge took power in 1975. According to one witness, a few days after the fall of Phnom Penh Chhirc was in the town of Neak Loeung among a group of panicked, bewildered people, offering them the hope of Christ. Suddenly, five or six Khmer Rouge cadres appeared and, without warning, clubbed Chhirc to death while the stunned crowd looked on.

After its formation in autumn 1973, Cambodia for Christ published an occasional newsletter to inform Christians in the West about the situation of the church in Cambodia. These newsletters are fascinating historical documents set against the backdrop of the final months of the Khmer Rouge military campaign against the Khmer Republic.

In 2013, Mr Randolph Parrish of Scottsdale, Arizona, USA, kindly sent to CCC a set of Cambodia for Christ newsletters for the period November 1973 to March 1975, requesting that they be preserved.

With the permission of Cambodia Action, which evolved from Cambodia for Christ, we shall be publishing extracts from these newsletters over the coming months.

Church Behind the Wire

Church Behind the Wire coverCCC has enjoyed a long friendship with Barnabas Mam. Barnabas was one of the handful of Cambodian Christians to survive the killing fields. He went on to lead an underground church during the post-Khmer Rouge communist regime, had to flee to Thailand for his life and then returned to Cambodia to plant hundreds of churches. He is now the Asia Regional Director of Ambassadors for Christ International.

Barnabas has recently published his first book, Church Behind the Wire. This is how the publisher describes the book:

From the oppression and terror of the killing fields in Cambodia, this is the story of how one man’s conversion led to a rebirth of faith that brought hope to a nation. Commissioned by Communists as a spy in the concentration camps, Barnabas Mam came to faith in Christ and became the foremost evangelist and church planter in a land broken by genocide. An inspiring story on a personal, church, and national level, this is more than a narrative – it’s a blueprint for success for church growth of the most powerful kind.

You can buy Church Behind the Wire at Amazon or other book retailers.