Healing Crusade Goes Tragically Wrong in Cambodia

Written by Karl Dahlfred on .

The following incident is recorded in "Killing Fields, Living Fields", a book by Don Cormack about the history of the church in Cambodia.  As faith healers and prosperity teachers gain ground in Thailand, I think there is a lesson here for the Thai church:

“In November 1994 an American healer launched an ambitious but ill-advised crusade at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh accompanied by days of massive nation-wide advertising. Thousands of desperate rural Khmers poured into the city bringing their sick and dying amputees and handicapped. Some had even sold land and livestock, believing this powerful Christian shaman from America would grant their heart's desire.

In the stadium terrible rioting and panic broke out as people worked into hysteria mobbed the platform, frantically thrusting their sick ones towards the healer. As he fled for his life and a gloating Cambodian military made arrangements for him to be secretly whisked out of the country, the angry people were destroying everything they could find associated with this man. They broke into groups and began prowling the streets shouting  ‘Christians are liars!’ and stoning and vandalizing nearby churches. It was a day of great shame for the Cambodian Christians. They learned how close to the surface is hostility towards the church, and that not everything suggested to them from the outside, even if accompanied by great expense, is helpful or appropriate. It would take a long time for tile church to recover from this tragedy.

The Cambodian church must be allowed, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, to discover its own cultural identity and calling. It needs great wisdom to know how to help the Khmer people confront their illusions and fantasies. Above all, the church must comprehend the meaning of the cross of Christ. A Christianity which is loud and triumphalistic, which parades itself provocatively down the streets trumpeting the benefits and blessings of the Christian life, desperate to make God look good and successful is surely not the way ahead. I pray Cambodia will be spared...”

Don Cormack. "Killing Fields, Living Fields". East Sussex, U.K.: OMF / Marc, 1997, p.439-440

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