On Dec. 7 and 8, veteran AGWM missionary Ann Greve, pastor of International Christian Assembly (ICA) in Phnom Penh, joined other evangelical leaders in assisting with the largest evangelistic event to occur in Cambodia. The center of the outreach was Franklin Graham, son of the late Billy Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), and founder of Samaritan’s Purse. Preparations for the event began in February 2018.
A total of 23,700 people attended the Love Phnom Penh Festival, which garnered national attention, including an article run prior to the festival on a major Cambodian news website.
Recorded spiritual responses totaled 1,875, and thousands more watched the event online.
Members of ICA helped lead worship for the event, and special guests also included The Afters, The Tommy Coomes Band and Cambodian artist Khem. Breakdancing, cultural dancing and drums, and a choir also joined in the celebration of Jesus, showcasing His endless creativity and love.
Josh Haven of The Afters told the crowd, “God loves Cambodia very much. Cambodia will never be the same again because of what God is going to do here tonight.” He also sang part of “How Great is Our God” in the local Khmer language.
Graham used his platform to urge Cambodians to understand that Jesus Christ is the only perfect Person who has ever lived, who can provide solutions and strength to face life’s darkest struggles, and who knows every single person on a deeply personal level.
“He knows your name,” Graham assured attendees. “While there are many religions in the world, there is only one Jesus.”
These concepts are new for most Cambodians. Buddhism is the dominant religion, offering no personal God, no loving Savior, and no hope for heaven apart from earning merit through personal effort throughout countless rebirths.
Spirit and ancestor worship are also widely practiced, commonly resulting in demonic activity and bringing bondage and fear into people’s lives.
Additionally, historical scars from the bloody Khmer Rouge regime continue to result in much brokenness, abuse and pain.
Ann and ministry team members saw a marked uptick in spiritual opposition as they approached the Love Phnom Penh Festival. Sickness, conflicts, financial difficulties, direct spiritual manifestations, and fear oppressed many believers. Ann requested targeted prayer from friends and supporters, also leading and participating in numerous prayer gatherings.
Graham acknowledged the intense spiritual struggle, noting on the day before the festival, “When we saw the opposition here, we realized the Lord must want us here. Because many times when there’s opposition, the devil is trying to stop what God is doing.”
The day before the festival, Ann and other leaders spent time in focused prayer, interceding for the Lord to protect the event from all opposition and also protect and prepare every individual who would hear the message of Jesus.
“The Lord broke down spiritual opposition and other oppositional issues and there were few interruptions,” Ann says. “At the festival, I was thrilled to see ICA folks leading worship, bringing groups of their friends to the meetings, serving as ushers and counselors, and leading prayer teams. Cambodian believers I have known through the years from many other ministries, churches, and denominations took leadership and brought others to hear about Jesus!”
Ann has served in Cambodia since 1991, following the collapse of the Khmer Rouge regime. While serving as a pastor, educator and counselor, Ann has confronted dark situations and topics head on. She firmly believes a spiritual breakthrough is coming that will transform the nation and even effect the surrounding Peninsular Asian area.
“As I watched and prayed through the two nights of the festival, my personal observation is that the Lord is laying a foundation from which a powerful move of God will arise in the months ahead,” she says. She believes BGEA training materials distributed to Cambodian Christians during the months leading up to the festival are part of that foundation. “The Church in Cambodia is better prepared now than ever before in evangelism and discipleship,” she says.
As she prayed during one of the altar calls, Ann felt a tap on her shoulder. She opened her eyes to see a man with whom she had worked years ago. He was smiling broadly, Ann says, and pointing to an older man walking in front of them down the aisle to receive Jesus. “That is my dad!” the man said.
“That man’s father and the other large numbers of older people going forward to receive Jesus were an incredible area of breakthrough,” Ann says. “Older people have even stronger Buddhist roots, and few have come to faith. But that barrier was broken, and many came for salvation!”
Ann concludes, “First and foremost, God must be glorified. Whatever the circumstances, our faith must be focused on His glory, love and faithfulness. Our God is in sovereign control of it all. This profound truth is the foundation of the amazing things the Lord has planned for this time. His desire is that His glory is powerfully revealed to the nations. ‘Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to Your name be the glory!’”