I first met 25 year old Soc Heath at the Rainbow hostel in Cambodia. James, the western name he uses after watching James Bond in the 007 movies, taught himself guitar via YouTube. James plays guitar during the hostels worship times. “Music is a big part of the Khmer culture and we use many original […]
I first met 25 year old Soc Heath at the Rainbow hostel in Cambodia. James, the western name he uses after watching James Bond in the 007 movies, taught himself guitar via YouTube. James plays guitar during the hostels worship times. “Music is a big part of the Khmer culture and we use many original songs in worship.”
James begins to unpack his story…“My parents died when I was young and I grew up in a Christian orphanage in Kampong Chhnang. At primary school it was very difficult to talk to other students about Jesus because they heard that killing was okay in the Bible. They discriminated against anyone who was Christian – Now they think Christians are good because Christians supported them after a flood there 3 years ago.”
“The orphanage was run by a Korean Presbyterian church and they wanted me to study to be a pastor. I attended Bible College for 3 years while working at a restaurant in Kampong Chhnang. While wearing a Bible school t-shirt in the restaurant, one of the ladies eating there (Sally Lim) asked if I was a Christian. She said they needed English teachers at Phum Krus. I went to Phum Krus to work as an intern in 2012. I came to Phnom Penh in 2015 and last month I finished a Bachelor of ‘English for Communication’.
I speak Khmer, Korean, from my days in the orphanage, Japanese and English. I am currently working in a private school as an academic co-ordinator where I solve problems for the staff and the students. I help teachers type exams and explain to parents why their students have low scores.”
“Staying at the Rainbow Hostel has helped a lot. It is only $10 per month to stay here. They train us to live together and communicate well with other students. We eat together because we have many guests here and volunteers help to teach us English. I would like to work with an international non-government organisation (NGO) in Cambodia, especially one from a Western country. I’m allowed to stay at the Hostel if I continue to study and complete my Masters. I hope the next generation can change the future of Cambodia.”
For some reason, at this point in hearing James’ story, I suggested that he would make a good Prime Minister … or King of Cambodia – little did I know the next part of his story. James smiled and suggested that a King doesn’t have any authority!
James went on to explain that when he was a child in the orphanage they had a visitor who shared a vision that one of the children would become Prime Minister of Cambodia. With excitement in his voice, James explained that he grew up believing in his heart that this vision was for him. “As a child I dreamt of being a Prime Minister.”
As a leader in the Rainbow Hostel, James’ enthusiasm is contagious. “On Tuesdays we have a meeting where students share news and on Fridays we have Bible study. I am a brother to other students. Some students don’t respect their parents when they first move into the Hostel but when they go back, they respect their parents because they become Christian”
“Everything is from Jesus. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here today. I like to follow Pastor Daniel’s example. When he meets a problem he works and talks to the students living here. Even when he is angry, he talks gently to the workers and the students.”
“Please visit Cambodia more”, is James’ request, “If people from Australia come and they are studying at university in Australia, we can share what we learn together.“
One of Pastor Daniel’s (lead pastor of the Lutheran Church in Cambodia) hopes is that the Lutheran Church in Cambodia is training young Christian leaders for the Cambodian community. I left believing this, through God’s grace, is happening!
Many of our partner churches are working in new territory for the kingdom of God; therefore, spiritual attack is their everyday reality. As a member of a congregation, school, or family, or a couple or individual, you are invited to commit to praying for our partners in mission. For regular prayer point updates, go to www.lca.org.au/international-mission/act-now/pray
Read more stories about our partner church in Cambodia at www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/international-partners/cambodia/