International Ministries

Conflicts, Patience and Prayers

October 15, 2003 Journal
A few weeks ago Deb and I met with Pastor Sok's supervisor.I told him we wanted to meet with him because we were very concerned with the teachings of the Holy Spirit (HS) teacher, whom the supervisor is closely associated with.I presented the following concerns.

1.How the HS teacher-visitor is described and introduced, such as "the true servant of God," he who "comes from heaven," "today we have a chance to hear from the true servant of God," to "listen to the servant from heaven," "to be [his] disciple," and "we cannot love, cannot believe without going through this discipleship" with him.

2.The HS teacher's teaching on salvation.He said repeatedly to the entire audience that we were unsaved and did not have eternal life, that we were not saved for we did not have the Spirit, we were poor, sick, and did not have power."If you are saved, you have power.You are not saved, because you do not have power."He said he had the Spirit and that we did not.Yet not once during the entire 3 day seminar was the Cross, Jesus's death, His atonement, or His resurrection ever mentioned.

3.That I found his teaching on the Bible very confusing.While he himself used and quoted the Bible frequently and said it was the reader that was wrong, not the Bible, he also made many confusing statements like "the Bible was not the word of God," "my scripture is spirit, not letters, that's why I do not need the Bible," "Jesus never studied the scriptures - nor did his disciples."He also said, "teaching the Bible is not of God," and "if you have the Bible, then you are not perfect and do not have God."I said I understood that he was saying that only he could teach because he taught from the Spirit, while no one else did.

4.That his Christian worldview was very exclusive.He said he's met more than 10,000 pastors but none or almost none of them were seeking God.He said that no missionaries were sent from God, and no mission agencies or any Christian agencies that asked for support were from God.Assuming me to be a missionary, he pointed at me and said, "you do not have the Spirit, I have the Spirit, I have power."

I expressed to the supervisor that while I did not know if this was a cult or not, many of these patterns were characteristics of a cult.I asked the supervisor what he thought about the HS teacher's teachings, and what he thought of my understanding of them.We talked for 4 hours.There was a witness at the meeting, someone whom both the supervisor and we knew and trusted.It was good to have him.

When all was said and done, we were convinced that the supervisor essentially agreed with everything the HS teacher had said.The supervisor has made a verbal agreement to place himself under the authority of the HS teacher.Deb asked him at one point if he thought he himself was saved.He replied "he didn't know, only God knows," saying he still had sin.

We have known this man for 10 years and he is a leader in Cambodia's church. In past years we have considered him very solid, a good teacher, and an unusually gracious man for a national leader.While his demeanor and language is less extreme to that of Pastor Sok's, his beliefs and teachings are essentially the same.Our hearts were very heavy at the end of our conversation and for many days afterwards.Some years ago he worked with another national Christian leader but they had a bitter split.I don't believe there's ever been any reconciliation.I wonder how much that has to do with his direction now.Please pray for this man, that God will reveal to him clearly once again His truth, and bring healing.He has authority over many churches and Christians in Cambodia.

Deb and Pastor Sok got into a heated conversation about two weeks ago.Deb talked to Pastor Sok about comments he had made in church publicly about herself and our son.She told him she thought this was inappropriate.They both lost their tempers, and their conversation drifted to other sensitive areas.Deb went back to apologize about half an hour later.I'm glad Deb did so, but Deb and I both felt her apology was incomplete.Sok accused Deb of "hating" him for years, and it is true Deb has frequently been irritated and angry with him.So last week, Debbie and I asked to sit down with him.

Deb told him it was true that she had long been angry with him, was sorry she had been, that her attitude was sinful, and that she was sorry.Sok, somewhat to our surprise, in turn apologized for his attitude and admitted that it had caused him to feel distant from God.We were encouraged by this conversation, though we certainly realize not all is better.Sok was less than truthful about a couple issues.His integrity is not what it used to be.Nor did we have any discussion about the troubling teachings in the church.But we thank the Lord for this opportunity to speak together and I'm thankful that Deb was able to speak to him as she did (she's a good woman).The battle (with Satan, not Sok) is far from over, but God is not done.I fear some of you may be tired of praying for this situation, but I ask that you please continue to pray.

Your prayers and financial support through the World Mission Offering are important to our continued missionary service in Cambodia.We know we could not serve the Lord in Cambodia if it were not for you.Thank you for your faithfulness.

In His service,

John Coats