Feature

Maid for a Purpose

She became God's servant

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When members of Maple Park Alliance Church in Quesnel, British Columbia, told us they were planning a short-term missions trip to visit us in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, my wife, Patti, and I were thrilled. The church had been supporting our ministry in prayer and giving for years, so it was natural for us to want to host their group. One afternoon our cook, Sophea, prepared a lovely lunch for them. As we shared Sophea’s story with them, we were reminded of God’s faithfulness.

EAGER TO PLEASE

Sophea worked 12 hours every day in a garment factory earning a paltry US$35 a month. Eventually she was promoted to the position of controller, but the long hours with no time off were beginning to take their toll. Soon her health failed, and she returned home. As she recuperated, Sophea made and sold desserts but could not imagine this to be her lot in life.

We met Sophea through Dait, a young widow who occasionally styles Patti’s hair. Dait mentioned that Sophea wanted to work as a domestic. Dait knew we were in need of a cleaner and cook, and she told Sophea to contact us. Sophea became our third helper since we arrived in 2001. The other two had come to know the Lord while living with us and then moved on to more permanent employment.

We were struck immediately with this young lady’s drive and desire to please. She had breakfast waiting on the table by 7 a.m. even if we weren’t hungry. She volunteered to wash the car and the dog in order to fulfill her duties. She even braided our daughter’s hair before school. We soon gave her a list of tasks we required of her and helped her structure her days.

Sophea was talkative and asked why we were working in Cambodia. We openly told her that we were here to share God’s love with the Khmer people and improve their standard of living. While she was cleaning or preparing ornate meals, she would quiz Patti on theological issues. Sophea was genuinely interested and needed answers. Our responses countered the anxieties she was facing, and before long, she asked how she could be saved. It was Patti’s delight to lead her to the Lord.

BEARING FRUIT

We believe that new Christians should have follow-up training in order to grow in their relationship with Christ. Patti began teaching Sophea the Abundant Life course even though Sophea is a poor reader. It was painstaking work, but the two of them kept at it. Each lesson brought new understanding to this child of God. Even she was surprised by the fruit of the Spirit evident in her life.

One day Patti and Sophea visited Pon, a dressmaker who had been asking about Jesus. God chose that day to call Pon to Himself. What a special treat for Sophea to experience bringing Pon to a saving knowledge of the Creator.

A NEW LEASE

In December 2006, we loaded our family and Sophea into the truck and headed for the small village of Svay Chaik, where I had been teaching a class for baptismal candidates. We celebrated Christ’s birth with the congregation and then enjoyed a traditional feast. Following the celebration were some words of instruction to the baptism candidates and an invitation for testimonies.

Sophea, usually quite shy, approached the microphone. If nothing else positive happens this term, we will be able to look back and say that it was worth it for no other reason than Sophea’s testimony. She said she had been at the end of her rope and had it not been for our testimony and lifestyle, she might have taken her own life. She thanked us and God that she had a new lease on life. Sophea challenged the village young people to turn to Jesus and experience new life, too.

Afterward, we marched off across the rice fields to a small pond. I admit my emotions were strong, since I was not only going to baptize Sophea and eight new believers from our church but also two of my own children. With great joy, I listened to their confession that Jesus was their Lord before immersing them into the cloudy water.

We don’t know God’s plans for Sophea, but He does. They are plans to prosper her and not to harm her, plans to give her hope and a future (Jer. 29:11).

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