This is Nary. He is a Cambodian believer, saved while still a young teenager in the early 70’s. He had some education, so he was immediately suspect when the Khmer Rouge came to power. He was village kid though, and that is what saved him. If he had lived in the city he would have been killed immediately. Instead he was sent to another village near the Vietnamese border to work in the rice paddies.

At six he and the others who had been ‘relocated’ would be awakened by their guards. They would get a small bowl of rice gruel and be sent to work. At noon they would get another small bowl of gruel which they ate squatting in the fields. They worked until 10 every night. If they were sick or injured their rations were reduced. If they complained they were killed. They were not allowed to talk, read or sing. Nary buried a copy of the New Testament in the field. On a good day he would dig up his copy, tear off a page for that day and rebury the scriptures again. At night he would destroy the page so he wouldn’t be caught. The scriptures kept his faith alive.

He was allowed to return home for two days to be with his mother while she died, but he was not allowed to feed her. Not even the milk from a coconut. Food was wasted on those who were dying, he was told. Thirty years later telling us this story, he quietly cries. He was ‘relocated’ again, this time near the border with Laos. During the floods they would harvest rice in water up to their necks, placing the sheaves in tree branches to dry. The leeches, as long as your hand, would cover their bodies, weakening them further as they worked.

Incredibly Nary not only survived, but when the Vietnamese ‘liberated’ Cambodia, Nary was set aside for education and training. He studied in Moscow and eventually returned to Cambodia rising to the level of govenor of one of the provinces. Beside his quarters was the jail, where the captives of the ongoing insurgency were kept. Nary could hear their cries as they perished, and through their voices heard God reminding him of all those who were dying in Cambodia without the hope of Christ that had strengthened him through the horrors of war.

He resigned his position and left the Communist Party, an almost unheard of event. He should have been executed, but again God miraculously intervened. After obtaining his Masters at the Asian Theological Seminary in Manilla, he returned once again to Cambodia where he now teaches at the Bible College. In his spare time time he pastors three churches, one in Phnom Penh, and two in neighbouring villages.

Nary, and those like him, are why we are here. We want to be a part of the effort to bring hope and encouragement to countries and people who have suffered for too long under all the man-made “isms” of the world and the horrors they have wrought. Yes this was a tough Christmas and New Year’s without our families and friends, but for all that it is still a tremendous privilege to be here in Christ’s name, serving Him in this needy part of the part, and therefore it is indeed a Happy New Year.