Love Comes to the ‘Killing Fields’

Post a Comment » Written on August 6th, 2007     
Filed under: News
OAKLAND, CA (August 6, 2007) – What would you do if you met the people who had once imprisoned you and killed many of your family and friends?

If you are Chamron Phal, associate pastor of First Covenant Church in Oakland, California, the answer is simple: love them.

PhalAccompanied by a team from First Covenant, including other Khmer speakers like himself, Phal has returned from a three-week mission to his native Cambodia. From 1975-1979, the Khmer Rouge killed an estimated three million Cambodians, a horrific period of history known as the “Killing Fields.”

Perhaps what most Americans do not know is that the Khmer Rouge remains a part of the coalition government of the scarred country still under the influence of communism.

“We are sharing Christ with the Khmer Rouge,” Phal says. “The fields are white unto harvest.  Atheism and cruelty has left them with empty hearts – they are very open. But most are scared to travel to the Battambang Province where the Khmer Rouge are still in charge.”

Phal and the team saw first-hand the transformational power of the Good News of Jesus Christ. In mid-July, 120 Khmer Rouge celebrated new life in Christ by being baptized in the Chamlong Kuoy River. Another 97 individuals (not Khmer Rouge) were baptized in the Sangker River. The top photo shows Pastor Phal baptizing one of the new converts. The other photo shows many of the people celebrating the baptismal events.

“Pastor Chamron is in the vanguard of a new movement of foreign-born pastors serving in American churches,” notes Paul Wilson, lead pastor of First Covenant. “With the support of their local churches, Godly and gifted pastors like Chamron are being called to do the work of the kingdom in their native countries. The fruit is unlike anything we have been used to seeing.”

Phal mentors a core team of leaders in Cambodia, even when in Oakland. Team meeting are held via telephone, usually beginning at 1 a.m. Pacific time.

BaptismWhile on this recent trip to Cambodia, Phal also conducted leadership training for 331 pastors and other leaders. Humanitarian aid, including the installation of clean water systems, was also provided by the team.

Wilson believes that “if we will listen to the vision and dreams of the new Americans who come to us from many continents, and serve them with our gifts and resources as they seek to minister to their countrymen both here in the U.S. and back home, we will see spiritual awakenings of the likes that we have not seen in our country for more than a century.”

Wilson describes First Covenant as a multiethnic, multinational ministry, which has a rich history of support for mission work around the world, both in support of shared ministry through the Evangelical Covenant Church, but also through congregation-initiated projects spanning many years.

“The congregation is generous in support of others,” Wilson notes. “We are excited and feel blessed because our ministry contributions are multiplied by a factor of one hundred.” That is the result of an intentional focus on investing in indigenous leaders in various countries, which multiplies the amount of “fruit and light” produced by those efforts.

This worldwide emphasis is the result of spiritual vitality at home, Wilson believes. “It is the result of people coming to faith in Oakland and becoming stewards of that faith elsewhere in the world.”

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