Cambodia History

Please Note: This blog post is a teaser for the forthcoming book, Straight2: ExGay Adventures in Christ.

Constructed in the 12th century using elephants and river to transport massive stones 30+ miles (50km), the ancient temples of Angkor Wat continue to tell the story of a once powerful empire that controlled a much larger territory.

Between then and now, the region was a French Protectorate (1867-1949). Previously part of French Indochina, Cambodia officially gained independence in 1953.

At the end of the colonial period (1949), France partitioned “Lower Cambodia” to Vietnam. To date, this continues to be a very sore topic among Cambodians.

Vietnam’s neighbor to the West, Cambodia became known on the world stage in the wake of the Vietnam Conflict after a ruthless dictator rose to power and savagely slaughtered an estimated 1.5 to 2.8 million of his own people (13-30% of the population, 1975-79).

Under the banner of Communism… modern technology, religion (even Buddhism) and anything that was perceived to be “Western” were suppressed. The educated and even those wearing eyeglasses were targeted. Many were accused of working for the CIA and other agencies. People were pushed out of the city into the countryside to work labor camps. From adults to babies, many were brutally murdered and buried in mass graves.

What was his leadership style? In sharp contrast to Hitler who thrived in the limelight and garnered popular support, Pol Pot acted largely behind the scenes. He formed an alliance with beloved King Norodom Sihanouk, called attention to Cambodia’s golden era and promised return to her former glory.

Pol Pot’s false promise of restoration is reminiscent of the antichrist’s future false promise of peace in the midst of global collapse (Daniel chapter 9).

Ironically, it was Vietnam that liberated Cambodia from Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge in 1979. But guerrilla warfare continued in the jungles.

In the early 1990s, Cambodia re-opened to foreign workers, missionaries and tourists. The U.N. held elections and appealed to other countries for humanitarian relief, which poured into the nation.

In 1998, Pol Pot passed away in his remote, mountain hide-out. He was 72 years old. Never tried for war crimes, Cambodia’s version of Hitler lived a full life and enjoyed his grandchildren. Some escape judgment in this life, but the Lord will judge the unrepentant.

Today, Cambodia continues to recover. Having banded together through hardships, the family is strong. Over 45% of the nation’s population is under the age of 25. It is a great time to share the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ.


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