Cambodian Perceptions, Part 3
Here you have it: the final installment of our three part series on perceptions that Cambodian people have of the United States and Christianity. This one should be the funniest.
Many Cambodians think that:
The U.S. government pays missionaries to come here and teach about Jesus Christ.
Now, that is funny. If there is anything that the United States government wants to avoid it is the perception that it is propagating a particular religion. Of course, we know that our government is becoming increasingly averse to things Christian. This, however, should not bother us so much because we that believe the Bible know that true Christianity is pilgrim in nature. We neither need nor want an endorsement from any government, be it the United States or any other.
In the first two parts of this series we saw that many Cambodians think that all Americans are Christians and that the national religion of America is Christianity. So it stands to reason that when Christian ministers come from America to Cambodia, they would be endorsed and supported by the government, just as the Buddhist monks doing something similar in the United States would have the sanction of the Cambodian government.
Hardly a day passes in which a Cambodian person does not have a question or statement for us regarding money. We are viewed as rich, though there are many, many Cambodians with more money than us. They ask how much our rent is, the cost of our power bill, how much we paid for our car, what our salary is, etc. Further, since America is a heaven of sorts to many here, and we are the U.S. government’s officially commissioned religious ambassadors, we probably get a big salary from our wealthy Uncle Sam. I laugh just thinking about that.
I will give one true story to illustrate. A missionary here needed a permission from the Ministry of Cults and Religions here. During that process, he was required to get a letter from the U.S. Embassy stating that he was a recognized missionary from the United States. So, knowing full well it was in no way, fashion, or form possible to get a statement like that from the Embassy, he made an appointment. When he arrived and was interviewed, the officer told him immediately that they could not do that. So instead he offered to give him a “self-stated affidavit.” This is basically an official piece of U.S. government paper stating that this missionary stated that he was a missionary in the presence of an officer of the U.S. Consulate. Read that again and you will see it means basically nothing. You see, the Ministry of Cults and Religions did not understand that this was not possible. (By the way, the missionary got his permission).
Brethren, the three essays in this series are humorous but at the same time serious. These ideas truly do affect individual’s reception to the Gospel of Christ. Many people will perish in the lake of fire due in part to these preconceived and false ideas. This is the very reason it is so important to have a right understanding of what the Bible teaches is the place of born again Christians in the world. I don’t expect to change the fact that many false religions name the name of Christ. But we that do belong to Him should do our best to obey His Word to fill our place as pilgrim-witnesses of the risen Christ.