One at a Time in Cambodia


The article below was written by Kay Burklin and Opal Hardgrove from Mission to the World’s home office after a recent visit to our village:

One at a Time in Cambodia

by Kay Burklin and Opal Hardgrove

Maly (name changed) lives in a small, remote farming village in Cambodia. Because of her critical nature and angry spirit, over the years Maly has alienated everyone in her family and in the village. Now alone, elderly, and infirm she must depend on others for help, but few are willing to help her.

MTW missionaries, Luke and Sokha, moved into the village sometime back. Sokha felt compassion for this woman, and she began taking care of her by bringing food daily and also helping her to bathe.

Recently, we were visiting Luke and Sokha, and when Sokha went to take food to Maly, we went with her. After visiting for a while, we were starting to leave when Sokha translated for us that Maly wanted to know how to find Jesus. Maly told us that she had gone to the temple, but we explained that Jesus was not in that kind of temple. He comes to live in our hearts. And we began to share the gospel with her.

We talked to her further about prayer. When Maly said she did not know how to pray, we explained that it was like talking to a close friend. She said she had never had a friend before. That slowed us down a bit, but we were able to continue sharing the good news with her. Before we left for the day, Maly did pray to Jesus. Now we are hoping that it will be real in her life. Oh how she needs to know a friend like Jesus!

As we were leaving, Sokha told us that we were very good evangelists, but the truth is that Sokha was the main evangelist here. Because she showed love to Maly every day by selflessly reaching out and caring for her, Maly’s heart was opened to the love of Jesus.

The work of God’s kingdom is happening in remote farming villages in Cambodia, but as in all places, it is happening one person at a time.

“What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish. – Matthew 17:12-14 NASB (accessed April, 18th, 2013)

The Next Sokha

Mission to the World recently featured Sokha on their MTW One Child webpage:

Her mother didn’t want her and couldn’t—or wouldn’t—take care of her.

So an aunt took in Sokha and her three siblings and did her best to lovingly provide food and shelter and give them a decent life. But tragedy struck and the aunt herself could no longer care for these children. They were put in an orphanage and found themselves alone, abandoned, and very afraid.

Yet it was in this Christian orphanage that Sokha began to experience the love of a Father, a love she had never known. And at the age of 15, she accepted Jesus into her heart and her life changed forever.

Sokha now lives with her husband and baby girl in a small village outside of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. There they teach children English through Bible lessons and songs, feed those who are hungry, counsel those who are lonely, and help those who hurting. Sokha and her husband tell people about hope and redemption in Jesus but more profoundly, they show it.

Such is the heart of mercy. Such is the heart of a woman who, through such profound pain and hurt in her own life, now ministers out of a place of understanding, empathy, and love. Sokha said “In His arms, my wounds are healed. In His arms, I found the meaning of life, true hope and true joy. I want to tell everyone I meet what He has done in my life through speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity so that my fellow believers can celebrate this indescribable joy with me, and the lost, the hopeless, and the weary can hear and be saved according to His gracious will and plan.”

There is a little boy, Samnang, who rides around the village on his bike. Only 10 years old, he was left behind when his parents divorced and moved away. He, like Sokha, was abandoned. But in this tiny village, he is being introduced to the Lord who created Him, who offers hope, and has wonderful plans for his life. And that message—the same that Sokha once heard—will change his life forever. Who knows? Maybe, through the grace of God, he will be the next Sokha. (accessed April, 18th, 2013)

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