This week, friend and colleague Heap called and invited me to give a sermon at his church on Sunday, the Philadelphia Cambodian Evangelical Church. I thought I'd post it...
Good morning, my name is Chris, and my family Samantha, Patrick and Isaac and I lived and worked in Cambodia for 7 years with Heap and Jennifer as part of InnerChange. As an Australian I experienced what it is like to be a foreigner – someone who looks different to most other people – very white and very tall, who doesn't speak the language on the street and who never seems to understand what is really going on around me. As a foreigner I felt less in control of my life. I had to rely on others to tell me how to do very small things, like where the market is and how to bargain when I get there, where the post office is, how to ride a moto dope without falling off, and how to speak a new language.
While this experience was difficult at times, it really was a wonderful blessing. It gave me insight into the concerns that Jesus had for the people around him, living under a military occupation, and in a time when there were huge differences between the rich and poor, those who own land and those who work the land, and those who were considered worthy worshipers of God and those who were considered as unimportant.
So I want to speak humbly this morning. This is a topic that I'm very passionate about. And perhaps we can consider this the beginning of a conversation. I don't know where this conversation will lead, but I offer this to your community for prayer and consideration.
1. Understanding Power
I train people in nonviolent action. I help them to see the world through the eyes of nonviolence.
The basic idea of nonviolence is that there is a special kind of power that resides within people that can stand up to guns, police, tanks and dictators simply because all these things require people for their power to be effective.
When people give their consent, and accept the legitimacy of a person, or a company or government, then that person, company or government has power over them. But if they don't, then they have no power.
Now, power can be used for good things. To provide education, hospitals, roads, transportation, access to food and drink, electricity, for communities to work together and support one another.
Power can also be used for oppression, injustice and discrimination.
We've all experienced the good use of power and the oppressive use of power. In fact, each one of us uses power every day. Sometimes for good purposes. Sometimes in ways that don't take into account that our actions will hurt others.