Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | February 8, 2015

Keeping Evil at Bay

Poipet, Cambodia

Keeping evil at bay is a common concern worldwide — both from seen and unseen threats. As a result, security is big business all over the globe. People in the West pay to have security systems installed in their homes and pay even more to have those systems monitored 24-hours a day. People in the East are no less concerned about the security of their homes, but are more concerned about unseen threats.

Spirit houses are a common sight in Cambodia and other countries in Southeast Asia. A spirit house is a security system that people believe will keep evil at bay. These small shrine-shaped houses are generally placed in front of a home or inside the doors of a business. Homeowners place food offerings in these often colorful houses to satisfy protective spirits and to appease any spirits that could cause problems for the family.

While walking through the slums of Poipet yesterday, I noticed that even the poor are concerned about mitigating the threat of evil spirits. Those who cannot afford to buy a colorful and elaborately painted spirit house will make their own. While walking through the slums I noticed one of these home-made spirit houses complete with a fresh offering of food — a reminder that many people here live with great fear.

Spirit House and Scarecrow
Yesterday, I noticed that one family took a more creative approach to keeping evil at bay. In addition to their colorful spirit house guarding one side of their property, this homeowner made a spirit scarecrow looking thing and placed it on the opposite side of his property. We stopped to talk to him, curious about the motorcycle-helmet clad effigy brandishing a wooden sword. This man really believes that this object will keep evil away from his home.

The truth of the matter is that in spite of all of the spirit houses on display in Poipet, this remains one of the most dangerous places on the globe for children and those who are weak and vulnerable. This is a devil’s playground where the truth of Jesus’ words is evident — the evil one has indeed come here to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. And no spirit house or goofy-looking scarecrow is going to frighten him away.

As long as we live and breathe on this planet we will have to deal with fear generated by seen and unseen threats. That’s a part of life. As a Christ-follower, I am assured that He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world. I don’t take the threat of evil lightly and refuse to allow fear to immobilize me. As one of my mentors often reminded me, “You are immortal until God is through with you. Therefore live and labor with the strength God provides and with the confidence that He will watch over you.”

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