A door opener for other denominations

This weekend the Chief Apostle is in Cambodia, a country in which the New Apostolic Church has played a pioneering role in a way. This is reported by the New Apostolic Church Canada, who works in Cambodia.

As the spiritual work grew with Cambodian immigrants in Canada, Apostle Erwin Wagner ordained a Deacon from Red Deer, Alberta—who himself as a Cambodian refugee—as a Priest. This was in July 1989. That same day, the newly ordained William Voeun was sent to Cambodia to spread the gospel.

Pioneering work done single-handedly

Due to the Vietnamese occupation and the resulting civil war in Cambodia, it was not possible for Priest Voeun to fly directly to Cambodia at the time. Instead he flew to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and drove across the border arriving in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Phnom Penh was the largest city, so he thought, and it would be the ideal place to start and meet people and give testimony.

At the time the New Apostolic Church was not yet established in Cambodia. Even today less than one percent of the population is Christian. Priest Voeun’s visit was blessed, and he managed to baptize 67 souls. Later that same year, Apostle Bert Woll—the father of the present District Apostle Mark Woll of Canada—made his first visit to Cambodia. He sealed the 67 souls whom Priest Voeun had baptized, including the present-day Apostle Kaom Meas and his family.

Largest Christian denomination in the country

According to the Church office in Canada, the New Apostolic Church with its about 80,000 members is now the largest Christian denomination in Cambodia. The Church was officially registered and nationally recognized as a religious organization in December 1993. This opened the doors for other Christian denominations to Cambodia.

Phnom Penh Central congregation, where Chief Apostle Schneider will conduct the divine service on Sunday, 21 November, and Battambang Central are the two biggest congregations in the country. Phnom Penh Central was the first congregation in Cambodia. It only became possible to have a church building, however, after the rule of the Khmer Rouge regime ended. Today there are 187 congregations with 351 ministers in the country.

The constitution provides freedom of religion in Cambodia and the government respects those rights for all religions. About 95 per cent of the population practice the state religion, Buddhism. There are over 100 religious denominations in Cambodia, but not all are registered or recognized by the state.

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Michael Bernt
Cambodia, Congregational life

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