The following was adapted from a report by Syna Lao, an Alliance international worker who serves with her husband, Soeuth, in Cambodia.
Before he came to faith in Christ, Pastor Bourey Young* had been a Khmer Rouge bodyguard. He had lost an eye and a leg while defending his commanding officer during the war.
While Bourey and his family were in a refugee camp, the gospel came to their town. His wife, Acharya,* and all nine children gladly accepted Jesus. Bourey resisted.
Bourey was furious at Acharya for giving up their traditional religion. “Why did you give up our god to follow this strange God?” he asked. In his rage, Bourey beat her repeatedly—once to the point that she was left unconscious for four days.
Moved by God’s Love
As Bourey watched Acharya lying in bed and unresponsive, a friend came to visit. “If your god is so good, why do you have to defend him?” he asked Bourey. The question made him think.
Fast forward a few years to 1998 when the refugee camp closed. The family members moved to Siem Reap, where they met Syna and Soeuth. By this time, Bourey was open to the gospel and agreed to study the Bible.
“He was one of the first believers we discipled after our arrival here,” Syna said.
But Bourey often expressed deep remorse over the people he had assassinated in his service to the Khmer Rouge. He suffered frequent nightmares and wondered if his past deeds disqualified him for heaven.
As Soeuth and Syna discipled Bourey, they were able to encourage him to trust in God’s forgiveness. Knowing that Jesus’ blood cleansed him from all sin has helped Bourey to experience lasting transformation and overcome his shame.
During the discipleship process, Bourey became deeply moved by God’s love. The former soldier said that he had willingly risked his life for the Khmer Rouge without any guarantee of a reward.
Now as a follower of Christ, Bourey wanted to do even more for Him.
Today, he is a district leader for the Northwest Region of the Khmer Evangelical Church (KEC, the Alliance national church in Cambodia).
“I always tell him that the hand that once killed people now holds the Bible—that he is preaching the gospel and bringing people in Cambodia into the Kingdom,” Syna said.
Next June the Laos will transition to a new location, where the entire KEC district is comprised of former Khmer Rouge soldiers. “God spared them for a reason and a time like this to transform lives,” Syna observed.
Intercede for Soeuth and Syna, currently on home assignment, as they prepare for this ministry transition. Also, pray that God will continue to use Pastor Bourey Young and other believers like him to help build His Kingdom.
After a Cambodian widow miraculously survived the Killing Fields, she faced an even greater threat. Read her story in the July 15, 2014, issue of Alliance Life.