The church growth we find here in Cambodia is organic.
This story is tragically typical; Dad goes out with the boys and hangs one on; spends the night at the local “institution,” picks up H.I.V., brings it home gives it to Mom. Traditionally, because of the poor general health of the rural population, they’re both dead in a year. That is, before the introduction of the A.I.D.S. “Cocktail” about eight years ago. At first it was very expensive, now Prime Minister Hun Sen has a consortium of funding organizations that pays for the most destitute victims to receive the medication free of charge.
Seri Nieng was lucky; even though her husband died of the HIV/AIDS, she received the medication in time and now lives a relatively normal life. A widow at age thirty-two with three children to raise, she works with her older sister who is also a widow with two children. Her sister’s husband died twelve years ago with malaria. Malaria is the number one killer in Cambodia.
That’s two widows and five fatherless children living off a small stand in front of a larger store. These sisters sell fresh coconut milk and gasoline in old soda bottles. On a good day they make five dollars.
Their stand is next to a garage where I get my car fixed when I’m in their town. One day, as I was taking the mechanic out to repair the air conditioning unit on our excavator he came to know Christ. I gave him a set of “Comic Book Bibles” which we print in Cambodia. The next time I came back to town, my car limped in with a blown power steering unit. I happened to be carrying two 100 kilogram sacks (that’s 220 pounds each) of odds and ends from the printer’s run of 50,000 Comic Book Biles.
As my vehicle was being repaired, the gasoline-selling sisters asked me if I had any more Bibles. Since I had two sacks full of Bibles in my car, I gave them one. As they were talking to me about the stories in the Bible I invited them to our local church; and to help them out, I had them fill my car with gasoline. As I waited for my repairs I noticed that their customers saw them reading the comics and the sisters asked if their customers could have Bibles too. I gave them a sack of the Comic Book Bibles. They started giving them away and in one day, they gave away the entire 100 kilos and asked for more. They have become the two most effective evangelists in the church.