Prayer – what an awesome blessing and privilege! Think about it. We get to dialog with the Creator of the universe and tell Him our most intimate thoughts, knowing that what we say has been received by faithful loving ears. As we speak with our Father and listen to what He has to say, we can trust that He will lovingly mold us into who He has created us to be. We also get to make a positive difference in our universe, just by petitioning Him to right a wrong or an injustice.
SEAPC’s vision is to see a world connected through prayer that brings Christ-based change to those in need. Recently, this vision played out as Cambodia connected with the US. This summer, I have the privilege of working with Sophea, one of SEAPC’s interns from Cambodia. I am tutoring Sophea in English, helping him to increase his level of reading, speaking, and writing in English.
As I got to know Sophea, I soon realized what an integral part prayer plays in this young man’s life. I asked Sophea to share a bit of his story for you today.
“I have three brothers. My parents died when I was very young. My brothers and I were separated. At first I lived with my mom’s parents, but they also died. In order to survive I lived with other people. I had to look after six cows. I wasn’t able to do anything or go anywhere until the cows were taken care of. I couldn’t attend school regularly. I didn’t have enough food to eat. I was hated by some kids. I was beaten by the home owner. I felt lost and had no hope. I felt very lonely.
I went to live with my dad’s parents, but they didn’t have the money to take care of me. Years later I was sent to a New Hope for Orphans children’s home by my grandparents. In the first weeks I was there I missed my grandparents. As time went on I started to open up, and made friends with some of the other kids. I felt joy and peace. I felt loved and cared for. Being in this children’s home turned my life around. I gave my life to my heavenly Father, Jesus Christ. I began to pray often. I had enough food to eat, and the house parents looked after me. I was now able to attend school regularly. I graduated from the Human Resource University in Phom Penh in April 2019. I am training to be a teacher and leader. I would like to make a positive Christian impact on people in my home country of Cambodia. I heard about the chance to intern with South East Asia Prayer Center in the US.”
Sophea’s life was indeed heading in a very positive direction, and he was discovering what an important role prayer plays in his life. In light of that, Sophea has recorded some of the prayers that he lifted up before coming to the US.
“I prayed that the internship would happen if it was God’s will. “
“I prayed that I would pass the visa interview so that I could come to the US.”
“I prayed for a safe trip because it was my first time to come to the US.”
“I prayed that I would develop myself to better serve with SEAPC in Cambodia.”
“I prayed that I would finish the internship smoothly.”
“I prayed that I would learn the steps to publish a book.”
“I prayed that I would improve my translation skills.”
An encouraging lesson for Sophea was to see firsthand how personally and creatively God answers our prayers, including the ones above. Four Cambodian young adults were approved to be part of the SEAPC internship program by the leaders in Cambodia. All four went to the visa appointment to see if the officials would grant them a visa. Only Sophea got approved for a visa to come to the US. Additionally, when God answered some of Sophea’s prayers for opportunities to sharpen his translating skills, He also answered the cry of the SEAPC staff to find a much needed translator for some training materials for the house parents in Cambodia. Sophea is doing an excellent job with this translation project.
The time spent in the US has given Sophea the hands-on opportunity to experience the American culture on several levels. He says:
“It is such an honor to be here. America is a beautiful country. I love the views of the countryside where I am staying. The designs of the houses in the US are different than in Cambodia. Cambodia usually builds taller houses. The people who I have met are very friendly and helpful. I don’t like the American food because it is blander than Cambodian food. I prefer my Cambodian papaya salad more than American salad. But I do love the American lifestyle. I admire the way Americans drive, work, and communicate. I sometimes wonder how they can have so much stuff to talk about. In Cambodia we listen more than speak. We don’t talk too much with elderly people. I enjoy seeing and learning about other cultures.”
This internship has been a positive experience for Sophea. He has experienced stretching times as well as times that have put a smile on his face. It has been a joy to see the power of prayer make such a great difference in the life of a young man who has traveled all the way from Cambodia. Sophea shared some of his final thoughts as he closes out his time here.
“I have been here for five weeks already. I have come to understand some of the American culture. During this period, I have improved my English skills as well. My speaking skills are improving because I speak English every day. According to the lessons that I am learning with SEAPC, I am learning about leadership characteristics. As Christian leaders we need to be bold and to be meek. We need to live as an example to others. Jesus is our example. I have learned about budgeting and branding also. I have learned about some of the strategies connected to the SEAPC’s Raising Kids program. Discussing the core values of SEAPC gave me new understanding about teamwork. I am looking forward to seeing God’s plan for my future. I am open to what He has for me. There is a scripture that means a lot to me. It is Philippians 4:13: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’
When I go back to Cambodia I will apply all the things I have learned from the internship to my work in Cambodia. There are a couple of things I would like to do. One thing is to translate an English language book I read, into Khmer. This book empowered me, and I feel that it can help other Cambodian youth. Also, I would like to start up a publishing company in my country. But first I have to do a lot of research on publishing companies and to do a lot of planning. I pray that God will continue to direct me as I ask Him in prayer.”
Prayer is a powerful conduit between us and our Father in heaven, and also between brothers and sisters the world over. Different times I have found that when I asked God for something, He answered above and beyond what I asked for. This was definitely the case with our prayer for translation of the house parent training materials. Sophea received invaluable on-the-job translation opportunities, and at the same time SEAPC received an answer to a long-time prayer for a much needed translator. I see Sophea as a living breathing example of SEAPC’s vision concerning prayer.
This young Cambodian man has an exciting future ahead of him! His heart to reach out and minister to those in his home country coupled with his discipline to seek God’s face for direction and inspiration, will platform him to advance God’s kingdom globally. Sophea truly has inspired me to become bolder and more expectant in what I pray for.