Gary Schwammlein, Executive Vice President of International Ministries at the Willlow Creek Association writes us from Cambodia this week during his travels through Asia:
“At the time of this writing my visit to Phnom Penh for the Cambodia GLS is about to end. Cambodians have to be some of the kindest and most friendly people I have ever met and yet like anyone else, they are capable of some of the most atrocious cruelty this world has ever seen. Today I visited prison S-21, as it was called, that was used by the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s for some of the worst torture we have seen in our time. 1.7 million people were brutally murdered in a four year period. What I saw still wrecks me. Later in the day I attended a worship service and even while there, I could not get some of the images out of my mind that I saw at S-21.
What a blessing to hold the first GLS in Cambodia after years of trying. Close to 500 people attended. Many of the sessions hit home and met a great need in the lives of the pastors and ministry leaders here. I am so very glad we persevered and managed to bring the GLS to Cambodia. It was deeply valued and met a huge need. The people here were very thankful and definitely want the event to be offered again next year.
Starting Sunday November 18, another Summit will kick off in Phnom Penh. This one will be attended by none other than President Obama and other government leaders from around Asia. While there is a great degree of religious freedom and expression, President Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge military leader, leads with great authority and power, curtailing rights as he sees fit in any situation. President Obama is expected to raise concerns emanating from this practice of government, but the truths in Bill Hybels’ message “The Church is the Hope of the World” becoming reality will have a greater impact than any president could ever have. Churches and Christian NGO’s are truly the only hope for a better life for ordinary Cambodians.
We continue to receive comments from sites all over the world affirming how much the teachings of the GLS are meeting the diverse and varied needs of our audiences. As word spreads, I believe the GLS, particularly when process time is done well, will continue to grow and become an indispensable developmental tool all over the world.
This comment from one participant speaks for many: ‘I had been invited many times before and did not come, as I did not feel a church group can teach much about leadership. I could kick myself for not attending before as I have never seen anything quite so challenging and excellent as this event ever. I can hardly wait for next year’s event to happen.’
There are still about 60 GLS sites to go! Your continued prayers are deeply appreciated.”