As I am writing this letter, Cambodian families are taking their “New Year” offerings and decorations down. Tables with five sticks of incense, a statue of Buddha, and a pair of young bananas could be seen in front of every home, business, restaurant, and hotel.
These offerings were set out to appease the blood-thirsty angel of the year, one of seven daughters of the four-headed god Kabil Moha Prum. Astrologers in the royal palace look to the heavens to determine what each new angel will crave and what time she will arrive.
Unfortunately, this year’s angel craves blood.
A reporter wrote: “Angel Reaksa Tevy arrived at 2:02 pm. She carries a trident in her right hand, a bow in her left, and wears a hairpin of lotus flowers. Reaksa Tevy drinks blood.”
Families were encouraged to also prepare three different kinds of fruit on a tray, biscuits, and coke. (Coke is thought to resemble the color of blood.)
For those of us who have been raised in the West, this might sound quite absurd. Preparing food outside your home to welcome an angel? But, after recently experiencing our third “Khmer New Year” in this nation, I can honestly tell you that the spiritual darkness is very thick over Cambodia in this season.
There is a real battle going on. Fear is a weapon that the enemy uses to keep Cambodians in bondage to superstition and bloodthirsty demons.
A Divine Meeting
The week before Khmer New Year Festivities, my daughter, Rylee, and I traveled with some Khmer young people to a small village in Takeo province. During this eye-opening day that was quite out of my comfort zone, God blessed me with a divine appointment.
My friends encouraged me to talk to some villagers. “Practice speaking Khmer!” they smiled and said. One friend led me to a small shack.
A Khmer man, small in stature, was sitting on a raised platform in front of his modest home. Chickens pecked at the dirt around us as the man quickly stood up to greet us.
He insisted on spreading out a bamboo mat for us to sit on. His shirt was in rags. His 4-year-old son played with only dirt on the ground. I felt uncomfortable, thinking, “Now I have a new picture of the word ‘poverty.’’ Oh, but how wrong I was!
As this man smiled, I began to see his incredible riches: this humble man, darkened by a life of hard work in the sun, is a pastor in his village. With joy that I can’t describe, he began to point to the houses near him... “They are all believers,” he said. He even led his parents to the Lord. With passion he shared of evangelizing his village.
“Would you like me to climb up and get you a coconut or a mango?” he asked me. I had never been met with such hospitality: the fruit was too high to be reached with a ladder.
We began talking about Khmer New Year festivities in his town.
“Lots of Khmer dancing. Many people drink and then try to drive their motos home. They all put out their offerings to the new angel so that they can have protection.”
“What about you, Pastor?” I asked, thinking that his shack is right near the road where the whole village can see.
“We serve the Lord,” he said. Pointing to the houses around him, he said, “This family, that house, and this family too... we don’t need to take part in that.”
This pastor knows who protects him, his family, and his whole village. He knows that they don’t need to fear a bloodthirsty angel. They have already been saved by a God who shed his blood for them.
Would you pray with us for village pastors like this who are taking a stand for truth amidst great darkness?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alice Collier and her husband, Sean, live in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with their three kids. They work with young Khmer leaders and invest in little ones who they believe are the future leaders of God’s Kingdom in Southeast Asia.