Beauty from Ashes

By Soeuth and Syna Lao, serving in Cambodia


Lena , a member of the Malay house church, was sound asleep when her husband tried to electrocute her, resulting in severe burns to her chest. Next, he choked her and tried to cut off her tongue with scissors. When these attempts to kill her failed, he grabbed an ax, struck her head with the blade, and hit her left eye with the blunt end.

When her two oldest girls awoke and tried to help their mom, the husband turned the ax on them and then fled after inflicting multiple cuts on their heads. Miraculously, all three survived.

Lena’s four-year-old daughter, Paula, witnessed her father’s attack on her mother and two sisters. Though she was not physically harmed, we are concerned for her emotional well-being.

The neighbors heard the commotion and called the police, who discovered that Lena’s husband—the only ambulance driver in the district—had fled with the emergency vehicle. Six hours later, after many phone calls, we arranged for another ambulance from the city of Poipet to transport the injured to a provincial hospital, where they arrived in critical condition.

Because Lena had no close relatives nearby and no financial status, she and her daughters were not admitted. When we visited them the next day, all three were lying on filthy mats on the tile floor; the nursing staff had not checked on them. Church members came to the hospital to take turns helping with the patients’ needs.

The following day we loaded Lena and the girls into our pickup truck and drove two hours through heavy rains to a nongovernmental trauma hospital in Battambang Province. (The previous hospital made us pay $300 even though Lena and her daughters had received no nursing care.) Upon arrival, the three were rushed into treatment rooms. The only available bed was given to Lena, who had lost a lot of blood.

“I Am Going to Live.”

We visited Lena a few days later. Her head had been shaved, and she had four large, deep wounds on her head. Also, her left eye had been removed because of the risk of infection to the other eye.

Lena’s first words to us were, “I am going to live.” She spoke with a hoarse voice and much effort; the doctors said that when her husband tried to choke her, her larynx may have been damaged.

Lena’s daughters received stitches for their injuries. The oldest remained in the hospital to help care for Lena; the other two are being sent to live with relatives until Lena is strong enough to care for them again.

News of the attack reached believers throughout Cambodia. As a result, many came to the hospital to care for Lena and her daughters’ needs. The believers took collections and prayed continuously for her; many also read the Bible to her.

Love in Action

Lena’s story was broadcast on national radio and television stations numerous times, and Khmer people flooded the hospital to meet her. They were able to see Christ’s love in action through the responsiveness of His children. The hospital staff were amazed that there were so many visitors for just three patients. The non-Christians who came to see Lena were awed by the loving-kindness and concern that the believers had shown to her. Even Lena’s brother recently said that he is considering making a decision for Jesus.

Lena’s husband is still missing; from a legal perspective, we have little hope that justice will be done for Lena and her children. Of course, nothing like this escapes God’s knowing, and we know He can bring something beautiful out of ashes—as seen in the outpouring of love from His people on Lena and her daughters.

Though the physical injuries that Lena and her girls suffered are slowly healing, the deeper, spiritual wounds are still raw and continue to cause nightmares. Pray that God will deliver His justice on their behalf. Also, pray that He will continue to use this tragic story to draw people to Himself.

What You Can Do


Join the Alliance family in praying for our international workers in Cambodia and worldwide, who are sharing Christ’s love with hurting people like Lena and her daughters. Use the Alliance Weekly Prayer Requests to assist you.


  • Give to the The Great Commission Fund (GCF) and support Alliance workers like the Laos, who are pushing back the darkness as they introduce lost people to the light of Jesus.
  • Give now

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