Christian Expansionism Under the Radar in SEA

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CEOCambodiaNews
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Christian Expansionism Under the Radar in SEA

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Opinion piece from the South China Morning Post. Long read.

Why Christian expansionism is a quiet storm in Southeast Asia
Independent and Pentecostal churches across the region are expanding overseas in search of new believers, financing and a foothold beyond their traditional ethnic and cultural homelands
But in doing so, they risk conflict with established congregations and cultures while testing the limits of multiculturalism in Muslim-majority nations

SCMP
Terence Chong
Evelyn Tan
Published: 7:45am, 21 Nov, 2019

Christian expansionism in Southeast Asia has generally flown under the radar for several reasons. There are demographic limits to the growth of Christianity. With the exception of the Philippines, it is a minority faith in all Southeast Asian countries. In Malaysia
, Brunei, and, to some extent, Singapore, the growth of the Christian community is capped by the size of their Chinese communities. These limits may have compelled churches to look beyond their shores. Churches and Christian conservatives in the region, with the exception of Singapore and the Philippines, are also less vocal in the public sphere in comparison to their Muslim counterparts. These factors have resulted in less attention being paid to the dynamics within the Christian communities in many parts of the region.

Expansionism has been purposefully undertaken with great discretion in light of the political challenges and sensitivities in Muslim-dominant countries. This is an important phenomenon because it tests the thresholds of multiculturalism. All Southeast Asian countries either claim to welcome different faiths, or profess tolerance of religious diversity. However, reality often fails to measure up to rhetoric when religious groups are perceived as threats to the dominance or privileged positions of other groups. The expansionism is also important to understand because it requires no small amount of planning, certitude, resources, and organisational know-how to execute. Such commitment of labour and resources only underlines the type of conviction that may come head to head with other religious groups which share the same intensity of conviction.

DIGITAL EXPANSIONISM

Unlike solo missionaries of yesteryear who ventured into foreign lands to spread the Gospel, contemporary efforts to spread Christianity have become more organised and concerted. A growing number of Pentecostal churches today have taken on expansionist characteristics. Some openly reflect their transnational visions in their names. For example, Kingdomcity aims to “bring the kingdom to each city”, while International Full Gospel Fellowship (IFGF) replaced “Indonesia” with “International” to reflect its new mission to “reach out to people at every corner of the world”.

Such expansionist churches share several characteristics. Firstly, they are usually Pentecostal and independent in character, and multi-site in form. They may begin as a local single site church which grows and later develops plans for setting up branches within its national boundaries and overseas. Although many of the overseas branches claim to be financially independent, they are not administratively or theologically autonomous, but instead are overseas extensions of the original church. This expansion is unlike “church planting” in which a “planted” or “daughter” church is often expected to develop its own identity and administration after initial support from the “planting” church or “parent”.
Full article: https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics ... heast-asia
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Re: Christian Expansionism Under the Radar in SEA

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Living Mission — The church today in Cambodia
22 November 2019
Father Charlie Dittmeier

More than 450 years ago, a Portuguese Dominican missionary first brought the Catholic faith to the Kingdom of Cambodia which later became part of the colony of French Indo-China.

The church never developed in Cambodia as dramatically as it did in Vietnam — also part of French Indo-China — mainly because Christianity was seen as a European, a “foreign” religion in a country where 94% of the people are Buddhist. But there were small Catholic communities spread through large parts of the kingdom and they worshipped in substantial Gothic church buildings that would not have been out of place in Paris.

Cambodia gained independence from France in 1954, but eventually the kingdom was drawn into the Vietnam War (called the “American War” here) and was heavily bombed. Then at the end of that conflict, the Khmer Rouge arose, an ultra-nationalist, ultra-communist group that wanted to rebuild Cambodia to its glory days of the 1100s when the Khmer people built Angkor Wat.

The Khmer Rouge wanted no “old ideas” such as religion to interfere with their plans for utopia, and both Buddhism and Christianity were targeted. As the faithful were driven underground and the clergy killed or otherwise eliminated, the French Bishop Ramousse, about to be expelled from the country, hurriedly ordained Fr. Chhmar Salas, a Cambodian priest, as the first local bishop, but he soon died as one of the victims of the Khmer Rouge.

The Khmer Rouge attacked not only the church people but also the church buildings. There were 121 churches in Cambodia before the Pol Pot era. Of those, only two remain today, one because it was used as a barracks for Khmer Rouge troops.

Today the Cambodian Catholic Church is rebuilding, but it is very different from the church one would experience in Louisville. One big difference is the size. There are only 5,000 Cambodian Catholics in the whole country (the size of Missouri), out of a population of 16,000,000 people. There are also 15,000 Vietnamese Catholics who live along the Mekong River and about 1,000 foreign Catholics.

The new church is also developing according to a very different model, one that more closely aligns with Cambodian culture. The new church buildings are in a Khmer style, often similar to Buddhist temples, so that they are more welcoming to Khmer people who usually know almost nothing about Christianity.

Surprisingly for such a small country, Cambodia has three dioceses for just 20,000 Catholics — due to the difficulty of travel — but the dioceses here are called apostolic vicariates and prefectures because Cambodia is still considered a mission territory by the Vatican. Serving the church are seventy-two priests from about fifteen countries. Only eight of the priests are from Cambodia.
https://therecordnewspaper.org/living-m ... -cambodia/
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Re: Christian Expansionism Under the Radar in SEA

Post by Kampuchia Crumbs »

CEOCambodiaNews wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 10:03 am Living Mission — The church today in Cambodia
22 November 2019
Father Charlie Dittmeier


https://therecordnewspaper.org/living-m ... -cambodia/
I'll chime in here.

When I was last in Cambodia (March 2018) I had the pleasure of meeting with Father Dittmeier. He gave me a tour of the Maryknoll Deaf Development Programme and we sat down and talked for over an hour one on on. I can't say enough good things about him and his Deaf program, one of the most humble nicest people I have ever met. One of the most amazing things was when I ask him how many Deaf Catholics he knew in Cambodia, he told me there were none that he knew about. The Deaf program is not to PUSH any religious agenda, I saw first hand it was purely from the heart.

I am not deaf, but hard of hearing. I was very thankful to be able to meet him, was one of the highlights of my trip there.
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Re: Christian Expansionism Under the Radar in SEA

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Lovers of the Holy Cross help sustain church in remote area of Cambodia
May 4, 2020
by Akarath Soukhaphon, Peter Tran

Stung Treng, Cambodia — Restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have halted the normal pastoral work of Sr. Sokny Nheb and Sr. Hill Pen in this remote area of northern Cambodia. They are now confined to a church compound, praying for the people affected by virus, those losing jobs and who cannot afford food.

Activities at the Catholic church of Stung Treng were stopped after Prime Minister HE announced on March 17 a ban on all religious gatherings throughout the country. Young people living at the youth center were sent home because the two sisters of the Lovers of the Holy Cross of Kampong Cham could not care for them due to the restrictions. The sisters now spend their time praying, making stoles, or praying with the faithful who come to visit them at a safe distance in front of the church's Marian Shrine, said Nheb, 35.

Both Pen and Nheb said they miss teaching catechism, morality classes, holding singing practice, visiting, playing games, reading stories, and helping to teach basic life skills to poor village children in Stung Treng, a remote and sparsely populated northeastern province of Cambodia that borders Laos.

In Stung Treng, where a majority of the country's ethnic minorities reside, church workers live among their predominantly Buddhist and animist neighbors, said Fr. Iván Campaña of Ecuador, who has spent 16 years in Cambodia and is currently pastor to the churches of Stung Treng and neighboring Ratanakiri provinces.

Stung Treng and Ratanakiri provinces have about 100 Catholics, 35 of whom are in Stung Treng, said Campaña, who travels between Stung Treng and Ratanakiri provinces every few days to serve Catholics. He added that Pen and Nheb came to help him a year and a half ago. The sisters have two areas of ministry: overseeing the church's daily operations and assisting the young students, ages 12-19, living at the center.

Lovers of the Holy Cross Sr. Sokny Nheb's primary ministry is teaching catechism, morality and family-value classes to young people. "I have a strong connection with them. I was very poor when I was growing up. I know what they're going through."
https://www.globalsistersreport.org/new ... a-cambodia
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Re: Christian Expansionism Under the Radar in SEA

Post by Jerry Atrick »

There are some real loony scumbag Christians in this country.

I know a good few brainwashed young Khmer who babble about the old fucking testament and have fire and brimstone type preachers.

A standard line would be how (for example) a recent earthquake which killed thousands in Japan is because the "Japanese are sinners".

Most seem to be PP, SR and Battambang based, thankfully.

The catholics are milder, but at the same time, who in their right mind would want their kids anywhere near a catholic church. If they don't get fiddled, they will end up with catholic guilt!
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