CAMBODIAN CHRISTIAN TODAY
Like other Cambodians (Khmer) in general, Cambodian Christians have
existed in the Kingdom of Cambodia and in many parts of
the world. We would categorize them into two groups, the national and
The national people are Cambodian citizens who were born
and live in Cambodia. The expatriate are Cambodians who
have left the country due to different circumstances,
and became citizens of the host countries while
maintaining their identity as Cambodians.
There are many reasons for Cambodians to leave their country.
However, the mass exodus was cause by the conflicts in
war. The historical roots can be traced back to the
period right after the reign of the Khmer Rouge Regime
(1975-1979). In 1979 many Cambodians fled the
country for their lives, seeking stability and peace.
The refugee camps in Thailand became their home for many
years to come. Along with the UNHCR,
some Christian NGOs and missionaries were servicing
refugees with many various needs. Many Cambodians became
Christians during those times (Learn
more about the border camps). Some Cambodian
Christians were repatriated to a third country,
and those who stay have returned to Cambodia during the
peace plan of the United Nations Transitional Authority
in Cambodia (UNTAC),
1992-93. United Sates, Canada, Australia, France, and
New Zealand, are the countries that have the most
In the United States
Cambodian Christians can establish their own church or
join existing denominations. Depending on how large the
community, the church size and members varies
accordingly. There are numbers of denominations and
independent churches. The Southern Baptist Convention
claims to have about 33 Cambodian Churches. The
Cambodian district of the Christian & Missionary
Alliance known as the Cambodian Evangelical Church (CEC)
contains about 25 churches. There are many other
Cambodian Churches that affiliated with various
denominations or simply serve as independence. The
average members of Cambodian churches are ranging from
30 to 150 persons. About
1/8 of the Cambodian churches have purchased or build
their own building. The
rest seem to enjoy the facility of their mother church
or renting. However, more Cambodian church leaders
address their desire to have a church building. List
of Khmer churches in the US.
Canada has about 7 Cambodian churches and Australia has about 8 as
well. France has 5 to 10 churches and New Zealand has
reported to have a Cambodian church as well.
Some church leaders have been actively involved in church planting
Today, the expatriate Cambodian Christians face the challenge of
how to carry their missions to the next generation. Many
leaders have networked and explored the educational
training as they are bridging the gap to the third
churches seem to integrate with the mother church and
the main language is the language of the host country.
There are some ministries being established among Cambodian
Christians. They are Camp Promise
Camp, Blessing Field, CECYC,
Before 1975 there were about 7,500 Christians in Cambodia. Many
churches have been planted and Takoma Bible School has
been built for leadership training. However, during of
the Khmer Rouge Regime (1975-1979), religion has been
abolished. Many Christians were executed or died of
starvation like other Cambodians in the country.
During that peace
settlement lead by United Nations Transitional Authority
in Cambodia (UNTAC),
1992-93, the Cambodian government guaranteed religious
freedom in the Cambodian Constitution. Cambodian
Christians have the right to exercise their faith as
other religious groups do in the country. There
are an estimated of 100 Christian organizations or
denominations that operate freely throughout the country
and included approximately 2,400 churches (US
Department of State, report 2005).
Due to emphasis on leadership training, seeking higher education
according to international standard and provisions
through various denominations, many young leaders are
now being educating outside Cambodia. An English
speaking university in Thailand admitting about 80
Cambodian Christian students annually (Picture
of the 80 Khmer students) .
Universities in South Korea, Singapore and the
Philippines are also known for accepting Cambodian
Christian students direct from Cambodia (photos).
The FEBC and EFC reported
that there approximately 1.5 million Christians in the
country. Among Evangelical Christians there are 5
councils that are representing Christians in Cambodia,
and they are working closely with the religious
department of the Kingdom of Cambodia, to provide proper
relations for safety and stability among the diverse
Cambodians in the Kingdom.
By Amra Phou, Update Oct 6, 2010
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