Our Son, Wayne Wright, was living in Cambodia when the Church established its
first mission there in March, 1994. Because of his fluency in Khmer, he
participated in finding a mission home for the first missionary couple
(transferred from India), had the baptismal font built, then baptized Phal Mao,
the first Cambodian to be baptized in that country. Shortly thereafter, we
attended the wedding of Wayne and Phal, performed in a stilt house along the
river in a small village north of Phnom Penh.Many members of Phal's
family now hold leadership positions, and one sister served a Mission in Los
I was serving in the Fresno California mission when the Cambodia mission opened.
One of the Cambodian-speaking missionaries in my zone was transferred to
Cambodia. Talk about an unexpected transfer! He was so excited.
RE: Patriot Who would have thought back in the 1960's during the war that
Christianity?All Cambodian Catholic priests, including Joseph Chmar
Salas, the first Khmer Catholic bishop, and many members of Catholic religious
orders.Throughout the brutal repression of the Khmer Rouge and the
uncertainty that followed ,Catholics had been forced to keep their faith a
secret'Cambodia In 1965 all foreigners were forced out of the
country and persecution of national believers escalated. Six months after the
missionaries left, rebels shot Protestant Christians and burned their Bibles.
Believers continued to meet in secret.National believers suffered as
communists took over the country. Buildings were destroyed, pastors killed,
believers were left homeless and mission activity seemed to cease. The day
Vietnam fell to the Communists, there were 60,000 evangelical Christians in the
country. Today there are more than 1 million
Twenty years ago my husband and I had the privilege of being temple workers in
Oakland. At the time, there were a number of California stakes which had
significant members from southeast Asia who came as a stake from central
California after the regular sessions concluded. On one such day, a young man
accompanied by his wife asked an officiator about the possibility of hearing the
endowment presented in Cambodian. He explained that he had done the translation
and wanted to now hear it as a patron. I was deeply touched knowing that such a
translation was needed and that someone had been able to actually do it. There
were enough patrons from southeast Asia that day to have a session in their own
language and knowing what those people had gone through made a strong impression
Like the stone Daniel saw cut out of a mountain without hands that grew and grew
until it broke down the idols of man and filled the whole earth.....nothin'
is gonna stop the Lord and His work!
I had a roommate from Cambodia while I was at BYU. He too lost his family and
was starved, beaten and abused. He didn't really talk about it, but once
or twice he mentioned a few things. We take for granted the great freedoms that
we have here, but very few even today are blessed with the things that we are.
It is easy to forget that as we compare ourselves and try and keep up with the
Jones. My roommate was friends with Matt Holland, and he spent some
time with President Holland who was president of the university while I was
there. I am sure that some strings were pulled in order for him to come to BYU.
I met him at the dorms my freshman year and then we roomed together for a
semester or two after my mission. Sina Seing was his name and I don't
think I am spelling his name correctly, but I hope that he is doing well.
My husband and I served our mission to Cambodia and then returned to live there
for three more years. We fell in love with the Khmer people. They are welcoming,
loving, helpful, generous with their time and talents, ingenious, resilient, and
have a thirst for knowledge. They also sing and dance with all of their hearts!
I am so grateful that they are prospering and that the gospel is
going forth steadily and peacefully (like it always does) to those beautiful
people. Another testimony that Heavenly Father loves ALL His children and is
just waiting to give them the blessings He has for them when they are ready,
willing and able to handle them.
For context - over the same period that the article states the Church grew to
12,200 members (1994 to 2014), the Cambodian population grew from 10.43 million
people to 15.13 million. Church membership represents 0.08% of Cambodia's
They must not have good internet access in Cambodia.
This is really neat-o and there are lots of blessing there for everyone!
Beautiful article. If one goes to www.liahonachildren.org they could read about
a project to end starvation/hunger and illiteracy in LDS kids and their friends
in many countries, including Cambodia. The LDS population in Cambodia has an
extraodinarily high rate of malnutrition, over 75% in those screened in multiple
stakes/districts over the last 2 years, the highest seen anywhere in the world.
Illiteracy is also a very significant problem. One of the new stake presidents
(Bunhoch Eng) came to the US last year seeking help for the LDS children in
Cambodia related to malnutrition and illiteracy. If interested I'd be
happy to put you in touch with President Eng.
More growth of the Church in former communist countries. It is astonishing to
see how the Gospel satisfies the hunger that people in these lands feel after so
many years of being spiritually starved by totalitarian atheist dictators. I
hope I live to see it finally go forth in China. That will be a beautiful day.
this is incredible. Who would have thought back in the 1960's during the
war that Christianity let alone the Church could come to this war torn land. It
is great to see these people with smiles on their faces rather than the terror
of war. Miracle.
I love reading about stories like this. The Lord truly is hastening his work,
and the excitement and joy in the hearts of those who helped in the early stages
of the Church in Cambodia and other parts of the world is just priceless. After
the horrendous evil of a brutal regime the light of the gospel is bringing hope,
peace and happiness in the lives of the Cambodian people again.
There are a number of other ways the Church and its members here can help the
Cambodian people grow in the Church and come to a greater understanding.1.BYU admissions: If a young man is fluent in Cambodian he probably is
Cambodian and survived the gangs!2.Most Conference center events are
first come first serve, which I agree is fair. But, those who need to maybe feel
the Spirit at these events have little opportunity to travel from Long Beach or
Cambodia or anywhere else to take advantage of these opportunities when so many
locals monopolize the first come first serve system. Having lived in Utah I was
trying to attend everything also. Maybe weighting attendance opportunities based
on distance could help if done for some events. 3.Maybe Senior
Missionaries going to Cambodia can be assigned to local wards in the US first in
order to learn a bit of the culture, and learn of family members in Cambodia who
could be first contacts in Cambodia. Then the greetings of the family and the
endorsements of senior family members can travel to Cambodia opening doors.
This article very lightly covers much of what really went on in Cambodia. It
understates the actual desperation the Cambodian people are in and have survived
through! Let's start with the RICE FIELDS of Pol Pot. He was a communist
dictator on the level of Stalin and Hitler. My friend spent 7 years in a
prison camp. Her father was murdered, her sister killed. Leaving it at that. The
atrocities were as bad as can be imagined. Pro American and educated people were
in many cases found out and killed. Because so much of the educated class was
killed the education system completely collapsed! Still education struggles from
an entire generation being eliminated. The land was confiscated by
the government and communes set up. Agriculture production decreased and people
starved. Personal property was confiscated and what was left of the population
tried to escape to Thailand in order to survive or come to America. Those who
came to America settled in Long Beach Ca. The daily basics of
education, food, shelter and capital with business understanding are a daily
fight that Cambodians struggle to overcome. By the way the food is not weird!
A friend of mine served in Cambodia from '11-13."Survival
in the Killing Fields", a book written by a survivor of the Pol Pot regime,
is probably one of the saddest books I've ever read. Things were absolutely
horrendous under the Khmer Rouge, similar to China under Mao Tse-Tung. Great
read though. Reccommend it to anyone interested. Don't read it if blood and
guts bother you.
A Sister Missionary from Cambodia served in our ward in Victorville CA. She was
the first in her family of 11 to join the Church. All 10 others followed, and
some were preparing for missions. Victorville was her first area, and she spoke
almost no English. However, she had a companion who was good with languages and
had learned Mongolian from a previous companion. She bore her testimony to us in
Mongolian, and the Sister from Cambodia bore her testimony in Cambodian. Of
course, we couldn't understand a word—but the Spirit was strong. It
brings us joy to see the Cambodian people receiving Christ into their lives.
My son served in Cambodia from 2011-13. He loved his mission and talks so
fondly of these warm and loving people. Thanks for sharing this article.