Feature

Tree of Life

A Cambodian woman finds rest in Jesus

By and

Before I [Polly] came to know the Lord, I had a lot of problems. I had many worries and struggles in my family. My husband, Mou, and I were destitute, and we fought a lot. Sometimes I was so frustrated with him that I just wanted to leave. At one point, I tried to kill myself. During this time, I was searching for the true God who could help me.

One day, I met a junk collector who told me about a group of people in Poipet, Cambodia, who believe in Jesus. “Why don’t you come with me and worship with them?” he asked. So I went with him to the Alliance church, where I met Syna and Soeuth Lao. They led me to Christ and discipled me. The other believers accepted me and welcomed me into the Jesus family, and my new teachers gave me a Bible to read.

Some time later, while walking in a rice field with a group of other men, Mou stepped on a land mine. The explosion blew his leg off, and everyone scattered. He lay bleeding for two hours before word of the accident got to me.

My neighbors came with me to the site of the explosion, which had left a huge hole. As they attempted to move him, I said, “Do not move my husband—I want to pray for him first!”

Immediately, they started to persecute me. “Your husband’s almost dying and you want to pray for him now? If your God is so powerful, why did He let your husband step on a land mine?”

After I prayed, they carried Mou to a vehicle that took us to the hospital. Although he had lost his leg, he was conscious and alert. He appeared to be in shock, because he wasn’t at all panicked by the loss of blood.

On the way to the hospital, I was told that Mou’s treatment would be very expensive. I started to pray. “God, I am just a poor farmer. I don’t have money to pay for the hospital bill.” When we arrived, we were told to pay 50,000 baht [US$1,550] on the spot. I cried, “Somebody, please help! My husband and I have no money to pay for the hospital bill. There’s no way I can pay for it.”

A hospital staff member referred me to an NGO [nongovernment organization] on-site that provides assistance to patients who are unable to pay for treatment. Right there, I knew that God was answering my prayer. The NGO paid most of the bill, and we were able to stay in the hospital for more than a month. I had to come up with 1,000 baht [US$31], which I borrowed from neighbors. We never learned the name of the NGO that helped us.

When Mou and I returned to our village, the neighbors began persecuting me for my faith in Jesus. “Because you believe in Jesus—that is why your husband lost a leg!” they said. “If you didn’t believe in Jesus, you wouldn’t have this problem.” Even the village leader turned on us. He told me, “You know that if you didn’t believe in Jesus, I would collect money from the village to help you, but your belief in Jesus is a foreign religion. So you cannot get any more support from us.”

From that moment on, the villagers began to show hatred to our family, but Jesus continued to be with us and help us. When Mou’s wound was not healing and got infected, Dr. Kent Copeland, a CAMA medical worker, visited Mou two to three times a week. Soeuth came along to serve as Kent’s assistant and interpreter, as well as to provide spiritual counseling to our family. Once the wound was healed, CAMA and the medical team arranged for Mou to receive a prosthetic leg. Dr. Copeland helped to pay for most of the cost.

At first, Mou resisted the idea of following Jesus. He said we were suffering because I hadn’t earned enough merit with the gods, and he urged me to go to the temple to seek favor. He also struggled with suicidal thoughts because he was no longer the breadwinner in our family. During this time, Kent, Soeuth, Syna and the other believers prayed for my husband and our family. The Laos began a weekly small-group Bible study in our home. Mou didn’t always attend, but God continued to work in his heart.

As he saw the way God provided, Mou said, “I have begun to see that your God is truly a living God and that He’s at work. I want to see what your God can do in my life.”

After Mou became a follower of Jesus, I could see the Holy Spirit working in his life. Before he became a believer, he used to drink with all his buddies. But when he became a Christian, Mou quit drinking, and his friends cut off all contact with him. When distant relatives visited us, they were amazed at the change in my husband. They asked him, “What’s happening in your life? What’s changed? You’re tremendous.” He said, “Jesus is working amazingly in my life! I stopped going out drinking, I stopped smoking and I stopped beating my wife—and God just blessed my family.”

God’s miraculous provision is another blessing in my family’s life. A few years before the land mine explosion, Mou and I found a piece of property for sale next to our present home. Although the land was very cheap, we invested most of our savings to buy it. We didn’t know it at the time, but the trees on the property—which initially were just a few shrubs—are worth their weight in gold.

The sweet, tasty leaves are sought after by gourmet restaurant owners and Thai merchants, who will pay 10 to 20 times the price of other crops for them. The leaves have become our family’s basic income. Whenever the big restaurant owners come onto the property, they buy all the leaves. My regular customers ask all the time, “Do you have any more leaves?” God has multiplied these trees, and we now have more than 200 of them on our small parcel of land. We have tried to give our friends and neighbors transplants, but the trees will not take root in anyone else’s soil.

This is a blessing that I didn’t have to ask for; the Lord provided it right here on the steps of my house. I never thought that I would be fortunate enough to have such an easy income.

Amid all of the blessings, there has been a lot of persecution. Our neighbors constantly call us traitors, and they threatened to burn down our house because of all the believers who visit us. But even though we no longer have any friends in the village, I thank God because He has given us new friends—a lot of friends, many more friends than we had before—friends in Christ. And that gives me the joy to go on.

My main prayer request is that I will continue to be faithful in walking with Jesus and His ways. I pray that He will help me to be content with what God has provided and that I won’t be greedy for worldly, material things that did not provide any happiness for my family. I had tried to earn merit and do good deeds, but bad things kept happening to my family—and nothing came of all the promises that were made for doing good. My husband still lost his leg despite all my efforts to earn merit. Now that I know the true God, I know that those things were not gaining salvation.

I also pray that my husband and I will continue to walk in the light of God. We all have doubts. Even when we believe in Jesus, we have struggles, and we sometimes question whether God is real or not—and it’s hard. That’s why it’s important to have a consistent, weekly Bible study to help us to know the truth of Jesus. We really want to shine His light to our neighbors, to love our enemies and to pray for them. Those are things we don’t normally do ourselves unless God’s ways are shown to us. I used to be a bickering wife and shout at my husband, and I threatened to divorce him a number of times. But when I received Christ and got to know Him, God gave me a contented heart. And He has provided ways to help my family and to ease my unsettled heart, so I know that all the blessings are from God.

God told me that if I trust in myself, I will not accomplish anything. Everything has to depend on Him. May God continue to be my guide and director in my life and help me to know Him more as I continue to serve Him daily.

Springs of Life

The small group of believers at Angsalaa has continued to thrive in the midst of heavy persecution. When the new believers were forbidden from using the village’s water pumps, they were forced to walk miles to get clean drinking water. God provided a way for a new pump to be built next to Polly’s home. When the new well was drilled, water gushed for 10 days before it could be capped. Soon after, the neighbors’ wells dried up. The church showed love to them by sharing the water from the new well.

Villagers have seen a difference in these new believers—recently the group has grown from a small gathering to more than 50 with many children. Polly’s small home is barely enough room for the church. “My role as a Christian is to teach others about Christ, especially the younger generation,” says Polly. “I pray that we will be salt and light to our village.”

—Josh Whiteman

Past Alliance Life Issues

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