by Laddie Perez-Galang, Volunteer in Mission
I felt like I had been sent back in time, growing up 35-40 years ago in the Philippines ~ my innocence, my exploring, my finding and defining who I am.
Who is God? I cannot ever remember being asked that question or me asking that question. I am one of the fortunate ones, because I grew up and was nurtured in a community of faith. I would not know how it is like or how it feels to not know God. That is what I saw and experienced in Cambodia — the first generation who are just now hearing and learning about God. I saw in their eyes, in their body language, in their smiles, I heard in their voices ~ that there is God and they want to thank and praise Him! Wow! They are hungry, they are about to explode, and they are in ecstasy.
At the airport in Siem Reap, returning to Phnom Penh, I was wearing my UMC T-shirt with the UMC logo. One of the security guards said to me, “Christian in Cambodia, Praise God, and good luck!” He seemed so very happy and proud to see a Christian.
I was able to attend a worship service on my last day in Phnom Penh. It was in Khmer, but they translated some of it in English. The highlight of the service for me was the closing. After four choirs in a row—praise team, children, youth, chancel choir — we all gathered in a circle. What I was able to grasp was that there were three prayers for the church, the country, and the world. I had my eyes closed ~ then the pastor yelled something, then everyone yelled the same words and started talking out loud ~ I thought they were saying the Lord’s Prayer, so I started to say the Lord’s Prayer. I thought, that’s a long Lord’s Prayer, because I must have said it four to five times before they stopped. That experience reminded me of the Pentecost ~ everyone was talking in tongues! I asked afterwards what they were saying. My companion told me that the Pastor yelled “Praise God, Praise God” and everyone yelled the same thing after him. Then they all said the three prayers for the church, the country, and the world, then their own individual prayers.