Who Would've Thought That 40 Years Later…

Report by guest blogger - Bill Cox

My son David and I had the privilege of going to minister for Pastor Paris Dominguez and his wife Josie in Takh Mao, Cambodia in early August of this year .We also preached for Pastor Sasha Ofitserov and his wife Lyuba in Phnom Penh. We had a wonderful time and saw people respond to the preaching as well as a number of people healed in the services.

As part of our trip we made the mandatory visit to the memorial at the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum at the former Khmer Rouge prison called Tuol Sleng. It was a very chilling place as it accurately portrayed the terrible devastation that was wrought in the country by the communists only 35 years ago. The Khmer Rough launched what they called "Day Zero" for the new Cambodia of their mad design. Now the last of their leaders is on trial and what we sensed in the country is instead the early days of a powerful move of God to bring rebirth and revival to that nation.

The Dominguezs are doing a wonderful job of building a fruitful work that will be established for the long term. They have a number of young men in the church who are being discipled and trained as future leaders. Pastor Dominguez has a very good strategy for training these men and others whom the Lord will bring to the church. During my time in Cambodia, I gained a renewed appreciation for what a price that missionaries pay, but also the wonderful grace and dominion that God places upon their lives. Only Eternity will reveal to us, the powerful impact that our brethren have had as they planted their lives in foreign fields.

The Ofitserov's church is located in a wonderful harvest field, a factory district near Phnom Penh airport. Many young Cambodians move from the countryside to work in the clothing factories in the area. Every day, hundreds of them pass by the church and are curious what's going on. We saw several of them come into our services and respond to the gospel. I couldn't help but think of Jesus' admonition to His disciples to "lift up your eyes for the fields are white to harvest". I was very impressed on my trip, as well as hearing reports from China, that it is Asia's hour for a great outpouring of the Spirit of God before Christ returns.

In the Wednesday night service we preached in the Takh Mao church , God gave me a word for Pastor and sister Dominguez from Isaiah 43:4-6: "Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable and I have loved thee, therefore will I give men for thee and people for thy life. Fear not for I am with thee. I will bring thy seed from the east and gather thee from the west. I will say to the north, give up and to the south Keep not back; bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth." This is obviously being seen in the Takh Mao church but it is also true of the Dominguez's impact in other parts of Cambodia and Asia.

On a trip to Saigon , they met a young man named Ty Son who was very open to the gospel. He is from the central highlands of Viet Nam where there is a move of God among the indigenous Montagnards. He is interested in coming to Cambodia to be discipled. They also met a Vietnamese girl named Cao who is very open. At the end of our trip , we went to Saigon. The Dominguezs went with us on Friday and Saturday and introduced us to Ty Son and Cao. They also helped us rent a hotel meeting room for a Sunday service. Ty Son came and brought 3 friends; Cao also brought a friend. For good measure, a Ukrainian man and another Vietnamese girl walked in off the street. I preached a simple message on the new birth, gave an altar call and everyone responded! We had a coffee fellowship after and got contact information for Pastor Dominguez. The wonderful thing was everyone in attendance spoke English. Despite the communist government in Viet Nam, there is a great openness among the people, particularly the young. Like I said earlier, I believe that it's Asia's hour!

The powerful thing for me personally about the service in Viet Nam was it fell 42 years almost to the day from the day I got on a plane at Ton Son Nhut airbase after a year in the war; disillusioned, strung out on drugs, lost without hope. If you would have told me in 1978 when I limped into the Door in Tucson that one day I would preach in Saigon, I would said you were crazy. Thank God for his second chapters!

Going back to Viet Nam was a revelation for me in a couple of ways. While the media caricatures of Viet Nam veterans as forever "Still in Saigon" are no doubt overblown; still war is a profound experience for anyone. A famous journalist during the war named Michael Herr stated "Instead of happy childhoods, we had Viet Nam." This might be likewise overstated, but I know for me, even a generation later, the war has always held a fascination. Part of this is because events in the war were very instrumental in my later conversion to Christ. Without the profound philosophical questions the war drove me to, maybe being saved would have been less likely. Part of my fascination no doubt stemmed from the fact that war is such an out of the ordinary experience that you never quite forget it. It's here that one of the revelations I had comes into play. We went to the Cu Chi battlefield which was exactly the area my infantry unit operated in. As we drove from Saigon to the battlefield, the terrain looked familiar, but it held no terrors; there were no ghosts in the hedgerows. The revelation I had was how powerfully I have been transformed by the power of God. His grace and His blood have transformed me not just on the outside, but to the depths of my being. It motivates me that no life is too far gone that the mercy of God can't transform it! The other thing I realized as I interacted with people in Saigon is how universal life is and human need. That culture which once seemed so alien to me as a young man from my western New York factory town was so different now as an older man and a mature believer. Whether speaking to the young people who attended our service or older men such as a Vietnamese street evangelist we met who has endured much persecution; we saw the longing God has placed in all of our hearts for significance. As Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes, God has put eternity in our hearts. Jesus' commandment to "Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations" seems much more doable when you rub shoulders with the harvest field. A phrase that came to me during the trip was the term "outside the wire". In war, it refers to the fearful territory outside the safety of the fire base. I was thinking how we can adopt that posture as Christians here in America and the West. We can view the foreign fields, particularly in the Third World as a hostile place when in reality these are places of tremendous opportunity for the gospel.

I am still processing the things God did in my heart and life through the trip. It renewed my appreciation for the wonderful, world impacting fellowship we're part of. Pray for God to continue to pour out his Spirit in Southeast Asia. The best is yet to come!