Killing Fields Become Harvest Fields in Cambodia

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

A once-maligned Christian ministry native to Cambodia is experiencing open doors as it reports a rich harvest among Cambodians.

This past year, 37,787 people heard the gospel message for the first time through Kampuchea for Christ, a Cambodian evangelistic and church-planting ministry. As a result, 4,866 people prayed to receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and, of those, 434 received water baptism.

Kampuchea for Christ was started in 1995 by Aaron Lee and his wife, Randa, who survived Cambodia's infamous Killing Fields. But in 1975, Lee, not then a Christian, did not know if he would even live.

Pol Pot, the dreaded communist dictator, had taken over the country he then called Kampuchea and tried to turn it into a peoples' paradise. Instead, it became a workers' hell. He emptied the cities--even the hospitals--and sent everyone to work on collective farms. Many perished on the way. The collective farms turned out to be virtual slave camps. From 1975 to 1979, an estimated 3 million people died, either through brutal bludgeoning killings or through starvation and disease.

Lee endured life in a slave camp during Pol Pot's reign of terror. Close to starvation, he once was next in line to be executed when the guards were suddenly called off. He managed to escape the camp by crawling through the jungle for three days, while soldiers looked everywhere for him.

On his desperate race to the Thai border and freedom, Lee met a Christian who told him that salvation was a gift through Jesus Christ. This excited Lee. He became an instant believer, and immediately began leading people to Christ along the way.

He made it across the border into a refugee camp in Thailand where he and others started a church with a few believers. In six months the congregation swelled to 35,000. There Lee also met and married Randa, another terrorized escapee who had come to Christ.

The couple found a haven in the USA in 1979. Twelve years later, when Cambodia's borders finally reopened, they returned to proclaim Christ to their people.

For this they were imprisoned several times. Cambodia's government was still communist and atheist. Through their ministry to government leaders, however, many gained a new appreciation of Christianity and respect for Kampuchea for Christ's leaders. In fact, in 2001 Aaron and Randa had the privilege of meeting with Cambodia's King Norodom Sihanouk and with Prime Minister Hun Sen. They also met with a former top cabinet member under Pol Pot's regime and shared the gospel with him.

Lee told Christian Aid that unprecedented opportunities have opened up in the last few years. In December 1999, the prime minister allowed the ministry to hold a "Jesus Millennium Celebration" in a rented soccer stadium that drew 50,000 people for two days of traditional Cambodian music and dance. It also told the true message of Christmas in pageant form.

A total of 7000 people confessed Christ as Savior during the event. The general manager of the country's leading television station was so impressed that he invited Lee to conduct a live 35-minute telecast on Christmas day, reaching a potential 7 million viewers.

Now instead of hiding from authorities for his life, Aaron Lee is one of the most sought-after personalities in Cambodia. He and his coworkers have started 2000 groups of believers throughout the country.

This year Lee made several more television appearances to present the gospel message and was interviewed by local television hosts in Cambodia. He organized four major open-air concerts with an evangelistic singing group.

Missionaries had the opportunity to reach out to staff, students, and the CEO of one of the largest private colleges in Cambodia. The CEO and one of the campus directors believed in Christ as their Savior and Lord.

Several years ago, when a government-run radio station began allowing Christian broadcasts, Lee began airing two hour-long evangelistic programs per week. Since almost every home has a radio, this is a powerful way to reach Cambodia's largely Buddhist population. The ministry now plans to establish radio studios in two locations, and to beam evangelistic radio programming to Cambodians living across the border in Thailand and Laos.

This year Lee, along with other key Christian leaders, took a comprehensive survey trip to three provinces where they found five ethnic minority groups still living a primitive lifestyle. They are now determining how best to reach these people for Christ. Some can be reached only by boat.

To learn how you can assist this vital ministry, contact and put MI-203 725-KFC on the subject line.