I was way pumped about attending Transform Asia's church service because somehow I thought I was going to be able to mystically connect via the Holy Spirit with their inner thoughts and prayers. Well, it didn't quite happen as I had imagined...
Don't get me wrong I enjoyed and am excited to see so many young people praising Jesus, but I just didn't get the miraculous warm fuzzies I was expecting.
The coolest thing to me was how many young people are leading this church community. It doesn't come as a big surprise considering that the majority of the Khmer population is under 30, but to see them leading worship and teaching the sermon in a room of mixed ages was inspiring.
One of the convictions I walked away with from this trip is that really, in order for Cambodia to change, this generation and then next one to come are going to have to work hard and with God's power to shift the direction of an entire culture. I got a glimpse of that happening through this church that we had the privilege to be a part of for a short time.
The gathering was quite familiar to me... rock band, drummer, electric guitar, base, tambourines, a worship leader with a tight leather jacket and all of them had super trendy hair cuts. I wonder if they read Rob Bell and Donald Miller too?
Anyways, then an older guy got up and start talking. I realized he was reading a passage of scripture. He read the entire chapter of 1 Kings 18. This was their text for the day. It seemed like it took him 20 minutes to read it, how could people be paying attention, I thought? Oh yeah, they understand what he was saying... it actually probably only lasted 5 minutes.
After the younger pastor got up to teach, I read the scriptures in English. These words reminded me of my trip to Israel, I actually got to visit Mount Carmel and we reenacted the scene with the prophets of Baal. That is something I will never forget!
So, I got to thinking... there are so many visible idols and false gods in Cambodia (almost every hotel and restaurant has an alter to Buddha or another god). What was the pastor saying? Is this story more applicable to them? What are the people here thinking when they hear this? Are there people in this room that used to worship false gods actively? What type of conviction do they experience?
Then, I thought... do they have it better than we do in the West? Their false gods are actually other named religions, we have false gods the are masked as beauty or riches and accepted by our culture and not outright worshiped, but worshiped... Do we even know how much we need this story?
These are just a few of the questions that are rolling around as I encounter a seemingly extremely different yet eerily familiar culture on the other half of the world.