July 11, 2004

Brian McConaghy - “Ratanak - the View from Cambodia”

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Brian McConaghy used all three chapters of Zephaniah to highlight God’s uncomfortable words of judgement to tell us how the total destruction of Israel in history parallels Cambodia’s total destruction of the Khmer peoples in the 1970s. Brian gave us the history of the war in Indochina, and then gave us a slice of Cambodian life - a deserted Phnom Penh after the rise of idealistic intellectuals under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge; the concentration camps; the unparalleled scale of Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious site dedicated to Hindu gods; the endless and contradictory lists of things made illegal, including colour; the fallout of Buddhism and animism still prevalent in the country in a hopeless and destructive way quite different from that practiced in other countries. The evil of the regime - an 8 million population reduced to less than 5 million in less than three years, starvation amid warehouses of rice - was counterbalanced by an explosion of religious optimism both before and after, and Brian sees in this fervour God’s hand in preserving the Khmer people for the future. The Cambodians can relate to disappearing, torture, privation, but the unexpectedness of Christ’s return from the dead is the message that sinks home to them. In all this desperation, Brian’s quiet drive to make life better for these people shows through, in the foundation he started, called Ratanak, named after a child he knew in Cambodia, in the adoption of two children from that country, and in our quiet message today. The question period reflected the congregation’s extensive experience with some aspects of Brian’s message. [AP]


Passage: Zechariah 1,2,3
Communion: No
Ecumenical or Event:
Potluck Lunch: No
Congregational Meeting: No


Speaker: Brian McConaghy
Worship Leader: Paul Thiessen
Song Leader: Edwin Hintz
Usher: Erika Hannan
Zoom Coordinator:
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