Feature

Searching for the Source

Jesus in Action

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Late last year, my husband, Seouth, and I, along with about 30 other church people from Poipet, Cambodia, piled into two pick-up trucks and headed to Sampeov Loon village. We braved the dusty, bumpy, backbreaking roads because a family had invited us to teach them about Jesus.

After a three-hour ride, we were warmly greeted in Sampeov Loon. The family members had been preparing for our arrival all morning, and within a few minutes we were sipping coconut juice while they spread out a huge feast in front of us! After everyone enjoyed the delicious meal, the head of the family, Mr. Sao Sary, stood up and announced that he had “something wonderful” to share with us.

Kindness and Care

In 1979, in the middle of the Khmer Rouge and Vietnam wars, Sao Sary became quite ill with malaria and other tropical diseases. Fellow Khmer Rouge soldiers transported him to a hospital in Sakeov Refugee Camp, where personnel from Compassion and Mercy Associates (CAMA) were working. Sary’s condition was so critical that, in addition to many medications, he required three blood transfusions.

At the hospital, patients on both sides of Sary died. He thought it was only a matter of time before he too would succumb to his illnesses. But the hospital staff saved his life, and he was amazed by the kindness that was shown to him. Most people would not look at him twice if they knew he was Khmer Rouge, yet at the refugee hospital, Sary experienced love. He realized someone cared about him and truly loved him just the way he was.

Searching for Hope

For years, Sary treasured that experience and hoped that one day he would meet CAMA workers again. In August 2006, one of his daughters, Sophorn, found a job at an orphanage. There, a foreign woman told Sophorn her father could find a CAMA worker in the city of Battambang.

Encouraged by his wife and children, Sary journeyed to Battambang, where he asked everyone he met if they knew where he could find CAMA. His search led him to a CAMA project, but he was disappointed to find that the worker he was hoping to meet was on home assignment. The Khmer overseer referred him to other Christian organizations, but Sary was interested only in CAMA. He was unfamiliar with these other groups, but he knew that CAMA had a long history of helping the Cambodian people. “If I am going to give up my old religion for a new one,” he said, “I want to join a group that is stable, not one that just comes and goes.”

Then Sary happened to meet some old Khmer Rouge friends, who told him what CAMA has been doing throughout Cambodia, particularly in the Poipet and Malay areas. But they didn’t stop there. They also told him about the God the CAMA people serve. Sary was convinced that he had finally found what he had been seeking for so long.

Thus, the invitation for our visit was arranged. On that day, Sary, his wife and three of their six children gave their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. The love of Christ that Sary had experienced 27 years ago had now borne fruit. Sary and his family are now attending the Beong Beng Church and participate in a weekly discipleship class.

Watching for Jesus

Although the refugee camps have been closed for decades, the seeds of God’s love that were planted through acts of compassion are still bearing fruit. My family found refuge from the Khmer Rouge in a camp in Thailand, where one foreign nurse made a deep impression on me. I watched her closely as she cared for my sick sister. The nurse was on her knees by those filthy hospital beds, showing us the love of Christ. Did she realize that I was watching her? Probably not. Weeks later, after becoming a Christian, I asked God to make me just like that nurse!

In another camp, a Khmer Rouge soldier was watching other Christian workers while he was lying helplessly in a hospital bed. Sary knew that his medical condition was critical and sensed he was dying; yet, there was something special about these CAMA workers that seemed to give him hope. And now, nearly three decades later, he has found the source of that hope!

Live the Call

Perhaps some of you are thinking about working overseas with CAMA or on short-term missions teams. You have a burden in your heart to share Christ and His message of salvation to lost souls, but you hesitate. You think you can’t do it because of language barriers, cultural issues, fear of hardship or the unknown. Maybe you think you have nothing to contribute to God’s work in another country.

The CAMA workers who served in war-torn Cambodia could have easily come up with many reasons not to go: the camps were unsafe, land mines were everywhere, they did not know the Khmer language, they didn’t have the job qualifications. But they went anyway. Why? Because God called them. Did they face many problems? Yes. Did they have difficulty understanding the language or culture? Yes. Did they risk their lives in many ways? Yes. Did that stop them from going? Absolutely not! Because these workers were obedient to the call, many refugees were rescued, protected, treated, cared for and loved. Many saw Jesus in these CAMA workers.

This same God who called faithful servants in the past is calling you, too, to share His love and compassion with poor and needy souls. There are many hurting people waiting for a chance to see Jesus. Will you go?

Coming Home

In the late 1970s, hundreds of thousands of Cambodians poured into the refugee camps along the border of Cambodia and Thailand. They came to escape the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime and to find a better life. My family and I were among them.

Like most Cambodians, we were persecuted by the Khmer Rogue regime from 1975 to 1979. Although more than 30 close relatives were murdered, my family miraculously survived the Killing Fields. In October 1979, we fled to the Thai border in search of safety.

Inside barb-wired refugee camps, we were surprised to find ourselves in the caring hands of people who came from faraway countries to serve us. We experienced the love of Jesus through Christian workers who used their skills and abilities to help us. As a result, my family and thousands of other refugees came to believe in Jesus as their Savior and Lord.

On May 12, 1982, my whole family (all ten of us) came to America through the sponsorship of a community Bible church in Long Island, New York, which had received help from World Relief. We adjusted to the culture, language and many more changes. I got a good job working as a registered nurse, and life in general was good for me in America. But as I continued to grow closer to God, I knew that He had something even better in mind.

I met Soeuth, and we married on May 30, 1992. Godly friends introduced us to The Christian and Missionary Alliance, and we soon began the process to become missionary candidates. While doing our four years of home service with the Cambodian church in the Bronx, Soeuth was taking classes at Alliance Theological Seminary (ATS) in Nyack, New York, in preparation for future ministry.

In July 1998, we returned to our beloved homeland to serve with the C&MA as career missionaries in Siem Reap Province. We are now at the end of our third term in Poipet, planting churches with the focus on leadership training and discipleship.

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