When I was 15 years old, I got a word from John Paul Jackson that I would take a trip within the next year that was going to change my life. Boy was he right! That fall, I had the opportunity to go to Cambodia with my parents, and with that word in mind, the three of us packed up and went. I had no idea then how my life was about to change. I had never been out of the country except to Mexico and this was completely different than Mexico!! We had a great time seeing new things, trying new foods, praying for the sick, giving food to the hungry, driving twelve hours through the mud on flooded roads to visit village churches, and of course using squatty potties (I was so confused the first time!!) During that trip we also became very close with Pastor Sophal and Deborah.
Here is my Mom and I somewhere along the road when our truck got stuck in the mud. Note the nice cow behind us.
At the very end of the trip, my parents were helping to host a conference at the church and Pastor Sophal and his wife Deborah called up the youth the the front for prayer. Now one thing you need to know about Pastor Deborah, is that she loves to pray and she loves to pray at the top of her lungs. She decides she’s going to pray for me. Into the microphone. At the top of her lungs. She was scream/praying all kinds of blessings over me and at the end she said, “And God give her a heart for the nations, give her a heart for missions!!!!”
I stood there with my hands up like a nice little girl with a smile on my face and thought to myself, “I don’t receive that Lord…” I had seen enough of missions I thought. This trip had been great, but I didn’t want to do that full time!!!! Well God politely declined my request to opt out of a heart for missions and everything changed after that.
Pastor Sophal and Brad Burns who was on the trip with us.
I went back to Cambodia by myself two years later and had the time of my life. After high school, I joined Youth With a Mission. I always thought I would be in missions for the rest of my life, but now our role in missions has changed. Now we get to be on the other side, the side of giving and praying and organizing groups from our church to go on short term trips. I know I’ll get back out to Cambodia some day, Cambodia will always have a special place in my heart.
Me in Cambodia when I was 17.
This past Sunday, we were excited to find that Pastor Sophal was in the country and had come to Dallas! We spent all evening Sunday listening to him tell the most amazing stories any of us have ever heard. He survived the famous Killing Fields during the Pol Pot regime in the 1970’s and went on to start churches all over Cambodia. For a while in the early 80’s, he and his family had refugeed to the US. They were on welfare, but they lost their welfare because he wasn’t showing up the his required English class because he was too busy preaching the gospel! That’s just who he is. He can’t stop sharing the love of Christ, praying for people and giving of himself. It is such an honor to know him and hear his stories. It is such an honor that he calls me his daughter. I am so blessed by him and his family.
Here are some pictures from the other evening. We started by taking some new portraits of Pastor Sophal. Look at his eyes, don’t you just want to be his friend?
Then we had dinner and sat around and listened to Pastor Sophal tell us the most amazing stories of miracles, near death experiences, and amazing provision.
He’s a very animated story teller!
Now I know what you’re thinking, yes, that fabulous zebra chaise belongs to my mom. No you can not get in line to inherit it from her, there is already a long line starting with yours truly =)