Friday, April 3, 2009

Pastor Chamron Phal's Story

{Pastor Chamron in Cambodia 2007}

Associate Pastor of First Covenant Church in California, Chamron Phal also survived the reign of Pol Pot and through the survival has used his life to help those still in Cambodia. Below is his story as told in the missions packet.
"In 17 years, I had never experienced hardship; I just enjoyed life. The Killing Fields changed everything. Sometime during 1971-1974, a Catholic priest gave me a Cambodian New Testament. I read and read. I remembered one verse, Matthew 10:28: ' Do not be afraid of man, who can kill your body but cannot kill your soul. But fear God, who can destroy both your body and soul in hell.'

When I was tortured by the communist soldiers, I remembered that verse. It gave me hope during that three years, eight months and 20 days in the Killing Fields.

One night, after I was tortured by soldiers, I met my fifth brother. We had each been caught by soldiers and placed in a forest prison camp during the November 1978 flood. In the middle of the night, while slept in peace, he ran away. I did not know why. The communist soldiers kicked me, tortured me and drove me out of the camp. I slept in an old rice bag to keep warm. I had only the clothes I was wearing, a spoon and a rice pot.

They forced me to walk a kilometer and I lost hope when I reached that place. They beat me until I was black and blue and bleeding, and then threw me into the floodwaters. I thought I would die. The water was cold and I was shivering and hurt, but I survived.

In the morning those soldiers forced me to work hard, and they told me they had found my brother. They would chop off our heads. I knew I was going to die, and I prayed, ' Jesus, save me.'

Then I got away and I ran and ran to find and warn my brother, so he wouldn't get killed. I never found him.

God used children to bring me to my knees. First He used a little girl to provide food when I was nearly starving. When she saw me about to cross the river, she grabbed her plate, put rice and fish on it and gave it to me. I hadn't asked for it. I thanked God. I was afraid to cross the bridge because of the soldiers, so she gave me a ride on the boat.
When I reached that village, I asked for food from another kitchen room. A little boy stood guard and said, 'Don't go there. 'Don't go there. '

He couldn't stop me. As I passed him, his face looked really sad. I knew something must be wrong. In about 10 meters I reached the kitchen. There was a woman communist soldier, chopping vegetables with a bayonet. She pointed it at me and said, 'You know we are enemies. You are ugly, skinny and you look for food.'

I cried, ' Please, don't hurt me.'
She changed her voice and said, 'It's ok. Stay right there. I will go and get some food for you.' But she brought two soldiers, one with a long sword on his back. They grabbed me by the shoulders and took me to the chief commander's home. I knew I was going to be killed.

In my heart I cried, 'Jesus save me.' And I begged for mercy from those soldiers. They threatened to kill me right then. I waited and waited and hoped God would rescue me.

In a few moments some other soldiers arrived on bicycles to visit. They threw their bikes against the wall and all went upstairs. When they reached the top step, I was gone.
After the Vietnamese defeated the Khmer Rouge, the United Nations opened its largest Cambodian refugee camp, across the border in Thailand. My mother went ahead and I entered the camp the next day.

One afternoon, while I was swinging in a hammock, whistling, a group of children started singing 'At Calvary.' It was the first time I had heard that song. The words hit me: 'Years that I spent in vanity and pride, caring not my Lord was crucified...and died for me at Calvary.' I jumped out of my hammock to my knees, confessed all my sins to the Lord, and opened my heart to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.

In the following months I read the Cambodian New Testament five or six times. It changed by life.

During the Killing Fields I had made a promise to the Lord: 'If you save me, I will serve you the rest of my life.'

The mother of the children who had sung 'At Calvary' saw me studying the Bible. She asked if I would teach the children the Word of the Lord. I said I'd be glad to.

{children in the ex-communist village who called our team, 'Jesus' people' because we love and care for them and lead them to the LORD}

After teaching the children for 10 months, I went to the Bible study with the Cambodian pastor. When the Lord sent that pastor to another refugee camp, he entrusted me with leading the adult Bible study at the camp.

God called me to be a youth leader and then a worship leader. On March 9, 1982, I came to the U.S., sponsored by an international institute in Boston. That year God called me to preach the Word on Sundays and take care of the flock.

{The Phal Family}

For 10 years I prayed the Lord would open the door to evangelism in Cambodia. In 1991 I took my first mission trip there. I focused my evangelism, preaching and training among the rural poor. I have made the trip back every year for 10 years.

On the latest trip 819 people trusted in Jesus Christ, we distributed 30 tons of rice to the poor, built 16 shelters and a school, and installed 266 metal roofs on shelters. Churches were started in Phnom Penh and in a village where 220 people gave their lives to Christ. God has helped me fulfill my commitment to Him."

Thank you Pastor Chamron for the photos. More photos of the mission trip to be posted later this month.

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