Other than the language used, it was very much like any other Christian service of worship. But when an elder got up to read the lesson from the Old Testament, I thought I detected a hesitancy and some lack of understanding in his delivery.
I asked someone about this after the service. "Yes," they replied, "the old Khmer version of the Bible is very difficult to read and understand, especially when being read aloud as it is in church. That is why we are so looking forward to the new translation of the Bible next year! It will add so much more to our worship and understanding of our faith." The New Testament in modern Khmer is already available and when the Gospel was read in the same service, it was obvious that it was clearly and easily understood.
But old or new translation, these Cambodians worshipped with sincerity and enthusiasm. And when, just before the holy communion, there was an altar call and the priest offered to pray for anyone with a special need, the altar rail was quickly filled - not once, but many times over. Some members of the congregation joined with the priest in prayers for fellow-believers.
They were sacred moments as confessions, words of Scripture, prayers and gentle weeping were all that could be heard above the soft sound of whirring fans.
It was very clear that the Word of God had again spoken its message of peace and hope to these people in this city where recent history and present political dissension have made uncertainty and fear so commonplace.
Source: Errol Pike
E-mail: bible[email protected]
Bible Society of New Zealand
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