Today I met with three Cambodian friends who are curious to know more about the Bible and why Jesus is so important. Even though most Cambodians identify as Buddhists and consider this a Buddhist country, they are not turned off by Jesus or the Bible. They’re aware the world has been profoundly impacted by the life and teachings of Jesus.
These three have also gotten the message that they must believe in Jesus or go to hell. As scary as the threat of hell is to them, it’s not a compelling reason for faith. If anything, the fear of hell motivates them to look for a safe way out. I suspect many who encounter Christianity this way wonder what is the minimum they can do to appease the God of Christians. Many respond with a surface level change of religion.
I want them to encounter Jesus, not as new system of empty beliefs and rituals, but as a man who offended religious people, who never indicated he planned to start a religion, and who offered freedom from the law and life by the Spirit.
Today we read in the Gospel of John, chapter one, that God was born in the …
My first option for getting things done has often been to go alone and go fast–and then to endure and keep going. I like working with people. I really do. But it’s complicated, and then it’s messy; it’s easier to depend on myself. Like-minded groups of people do the same thing by keeping power and control to themselves. Even compassionate people who work with the poor and dispossessed are tempted to keep power for themselves rather than sharing it with the poor — prioritizing speed and quantifiable results over empowerment and transformation.
Peace – just a suspending conflict but real peace — is about transformation of people and communities. It’s a long journey. It’s local and hard won. It’s concrete, not a concept or ideal somewhere out there. It’s about going far together, and it’s worth slowing down for.
The video project I’ve been working on for the past year is online and available for free download here. The title is “Why Not A Family?” and the purpose is to raise awareness about better alternatives for the care of orphaned and vulnerable children. This video challenges the idea that orphanages are really a good long term option and suggests a better way.
Eighty percent of children in orphanages worldwide have at least one living parent. Nearly all have other living relatives who could care for them. The major problem is poverty and a lack of support for raising vulnerable children within their own families and communities.
Would you like to learn more? Go to unitingforchildren.org . I hope you’ll connect with the ongoing conversation using one of the social media links there, and then tell your friends.
I had a chance to shoot at Sovanna Phum recently, a great place to see Apsara and other traditional arts in Phnom Penh every Friday night at 7:30. Most of the performers are studying at the Royal University of Fine Arts.
I always appreciate the energy and color, and since I have a good relationship with them (having helped out in various ways over the years), I’m allowed backstage and don’t have to pay. My favorite performances blend art forms — Apsara, shadow puppets, and circus elements — with hints of modern style. I was pleased to hear some contemporary sounds coming from the traditional orchestra this time as well. It’s great to preserve traditions, and good to keep them alive, too.
Worlds collide and mingle in Phnom Penh’s Russian Market (Psar Tuol Tom Pong). It’s a local market that swells daily with local Khmer shoppers buying everything from vegetables and fresh fish to auto parts and paint. But half of the space is devoted to a thriving trade with tourists who come for a “market experience” to shop for all kinds of handmade crafts, gifts, and cheap knock-offs…