Please pray for Cambodia. The following is from a Ratanak publication:
Cambodia is both beautiful and rich in natural resources. It has lush agricultural land, an exceptional freshwater fishery, rich deposits of gems and dense forests of hard woods. It is a land of great tradition and culture from the ancient jungle temples of Angkor to the graceful strength and beauty of traditional Khmer dance. The Chinese used to have an expression “as rich as Cambodia”. But all of Cambodia’s attributes have been laid waste. Its greatness shattered; its people a mere shadow of what they were. While the beauty can still be seen today it exists in a context of trauma, for Cambodia has been subjected to unprecedented brutality. The beauty of this country, and its wonderful people, can now only be viewed through the lens of poverty and the scars of suffering.
In the late 1960′s and early 1970′s the United States was embroiled in the Vietnam War. Cambodia, a non participant in the war, was being used by the North Vietnamese Communists as a secret supply route to reinforce their troops in South Vietnam. The US response was to illegally (congress was not informed) commence the most concentrated bombing campaign in history, against neutral Cambodia. A total of 2,756,941 tons of bombs were dropped on Cambodia, a country only 450km by 550km (this was more tonnage than all the bombs dropped in Europe, by all participants, in WWII). Much of the bombing was indiscriminate. Fear and the devastating civilian casualties drove the bewildered and largely rural population into the arms of the communist Khmer Rouge, where they were radicalized and trained to destroy all things associated with the “West” which had rained such terror upon them.
In 1975, after a long and brutal civil war, the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia. Pol Pot, the leader of this communist movement, desired national strength and purity. He wanted to return Cambodia to the ancient days of the Angkorian empire when Cambodia was great, her achievements and power unrivaled in south-east Asia. To this end he instituted a program of political, economic, religious and ethnic cleansing which demanded the complete eradication of the previous culture and society which, he insisted, had been tainted by the “West” and the hated Vietnamese. What followed was one of the most brutal revolutions in history. The cities were emptied and the entire population subjected to enforced starvation, mass execution, slave labour and unchecked disease in what became internationally known as the Killing Fields. All the public institutions of society were systematically dismantled. Money and the ownership of all personal property made illegal. Music was banned. Doctors, teachers, engineers, academics and all other educated professionals were executed along with their extended families.
Children were taken from their parents and placed in separate forced labour camps to be ‘re-trained’. Many were taught to look for traitors in their midst, they spied on their own families and neighbours, and were transformed into ‘thugs’ with guns. Some became willing executioners in a comprehensive system of torture prisons and killing fields. Many of these children would become the parents of today.
Religion was banned, all leading Buddhist monks were killed and almost all the temples were destroyed. It was possible to be killed for simply for knowing a foreigner, wearing glasses, and laughing, or crying when ordered not to. Between 2 and 3.2 million people lost their lives to the civil war or disappeared in the subsequent revolution… the entire fabric of society disintegrated.
The Vietnamese invaded and put an end to the slaughter in 1978. They installed their own communist government. This provoked a devastating international embargo that isolated the traumatized population from the international aid they so desperately needed and produced a second civil war which raged until 1992. Through these civil war years the land was again ravaged and the people re-traumatized. All the waring factions planted millions of uncharted landmines leaving a legacy of indescriminent destruction that continues to terrify and disable the population.
By 1989 cracks in the isolation began to appear and by 1990 international aid was starting to enter Cambodia despite the international embargo, chronic instability and sporadic fighting that continued until 1997. In 1992 the UN finally decided to get involved and sent peace keepers and long overdue development aid. However along with the measure of political stability the UN troops were largely responsible for bringing AIDS to Cambodia. Without trained doctors, and any basic medical understanding, Cambodia’s AIDS epidemic became the fastest growing in Asia. Many died and thousands more orphans were added to those left abandoned by years of political turmoil. Medical services, such as they were, were completely incapable of coping. Social services were non-existent.
However the international and NGO communities were starting to see some progress in the late 1990s. Tourism, largely focused on the ancient Angkor temple complex, was beginning to bring in foreign currency. Tragically along with the normal tourists came the sex tourists and pedophiles. They quickly discovered that the legal and policing structures in Cambodia were as shattered as everything else in the country. Years of revolution and poverty had left a society without the ability to protect its own children. Cambodia was wide open for mass exploitation; its children unprotected. Where the basic desire to protect children did exist the efforts were largely thwarted by poor and inexperienced officials and police who themselves were easily corrupted by the wealthy western sex tourists.
Cambodia now attempts to recover from such devastating political and social upheaval. Ratanak International honours the Cambodian people for their strength and ability to survive the devastation imposed on them. Ratanak International has been working hard since 1989 to help the Khmer people stand, once again, on their own and know dignity in in their lives through the restorative love of Christ who knows and has overcome all suffering.
A thousand times I've failed Still your mercy remains And should I stumble again Still I'm caught in your grace Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame Your will above all else, my purpose remains The art of losing myself in bringing you praise Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame My heart, my soul, Lord I give you control Consume me from the inside out Lord Let justice and praise become my embrace To love You from the inside out Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame And the cry of my heart is to bring You praise From the inside out, O my soul cries out My Soul cries out to You My Soul cries out to You to You, to You My heart, my soul, Lord I give you control Consume me from the inside out Lord Let justice and praise become my embrace To love You from the inside out Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame And the cry of my heart is to bring You praise From the inside out, O my soul cries out Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame And the cry of my heart is to bring You praise From the inside out, O my soul cries out From the inside out, O my soul cries out From the inside out, O my soul cries out. Hillsong United Lyrics - From The Inside Out album: United We Stand (2006)