Taking care of orphans and widows includes caring for them spiritually. In Cambodia orphans and widows are overlooked because of the Buddhist belief that what happens to a person in this life is based off how they lived in a past life. But Christianity teaches pure religion is to “look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27).
Luckily for a widow in Cambodia a traveling evangelist took the words in James 1:27 to heart.
Men Thyda’s Story:
Five years ago a travelling evangelist came to the remote village of Toul Tlork, Cambodia. As he shared the good news of Jesus Christ, many accepted Christ as their savior. One of those people was Men Thyda.
When Men Thyda accepted Christ she was a widow who was desperately trying to care for her son. Men Thyda’s situation had made her hopeless and depressed. She felt as though she had nothing to live for, and worse yet, Men Thyda had no hope for her life, or for the life of her son.
Unfortunately, the travelling evangelist only spent a couple of days in Toul Tlork, so while many people came to know and put their faith in Jesus, no one knew what it meant to live like a Christian. And even more upsetting, there was no one in the community to disciple the new Christians. So, not long after the evangelist left, people forgot the message he had shared, and many returned to their past way of living.
But not Men Thyda.
When she heard the good news of Jesus Christ, Men Thyda knew that her life could have value. Men Thyda accepted Christ and she instantly felt as though she had something to live for! Men Thyda knew Christ loved her and she believed God had a desire for her to do something with her life. Accepting Jesus into her heart had given Men Thyda purpose again.
Her life had been dramatically changed, and even though she wasn’t sure what it meant or looked like, she was determined to live for Christ!
So even though those around her started giving up their new-found faith in Christ, Men Thyda could not. Men Thyda heard the voice of God prompting her to keep worshiping Him, and to encourage her brothers and sisters in the faith to do the same.
Men Thyda never set out to be a pastor in her village, but God lead her and prepared her to become one.
Men Thyda started a church in her home. She had Bible studies with her neighbors, lead people in worship and in prayer, and she even started preaching. Even though Men Thyda hadn’t had formal training, she kept listening to God’s call to share the Gospel. She also kept praying God would provide someone who would be able to train her, and to help her with the new Church that was building from her home.
God heard Men Thyda’s prayers, and 5 years after she accepted Christ Pastor Oun Chhaya from Phnom Penh came to become Men Thyda’s partner. Now the two pastors are working together to build a church in Men Thyda’s home village. Pastor Oun Chhaya has everything Men Thyda lacks: formal training and the ability to preach and lead the discipleship of the church. To compliment his skills, Men Thyda knows the people of her village and their needs, and she works to reach out to the people who she loves.
Five years ago Men Thyda was at the end of her rope, desperate and hopeless. But a relationship with Jesus changed everything for her and her village. Now Men Thyda, along with her partner, Pastor Oun Chhaya, continuously shares the word of God with their village and their small church is growing daily! It’s amazing the work God can do in five years! Please continue to pray for Men Thyda, and for amazing work God will do through her and her church in the next five years!