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Video still via Cambodia Christian Ministries

A squeaky-voiced, mighty oak falls

Phnom Penh, Cambodia — When I first met Chamnan Rorn on April 20, 2012, I thought my friend Sokhom Hun had lost his mind.

Mike Meierhofer

Sokhom, a Cambodian minister, partners with our Texas congregation to train preachers and reach lost souls across his native country, where he nearly died at the hands of the brutal Khmer Rouge. He and I were conducting a three-day seminar for village house-church leaders along with our Cambodia Bible School students.

As I glanced across the room, it looked like we had some very capable men to equip with God’s Word. Then I noticed Chamnan — a frail, 90-pound guy who was partially hunched over with crippled-up hands. He spoke broken English with the squeakiest voice I’d ever heard.

I asked Sokhom why he would bring this unimpressive house church leader to the seminar when funds and space were so limited.

“He is not a house-church leader, brother,” Sokhom said. “He is a new full-time preaching student.”

Then I really thought he was off his rocker.

From there, God proceeded to teach me a valuable and humbling lesson about judging people by appearance. For the next few days, I visited with Chamnan, and I was blown away by his Bible knowledge, his love for the Lord and his fiery desire to share Jesus with the people in his village.

Before the seminar ended I told Sokhom, “If I moved to Cambodia to do mission work, I would beg Chamnan to be my partner.” Everyone at the Bible school had the utmost respect for Chamnan.

“God proceeded to teach me a valuable and humbling lesson about judging people by appearance.”

To this day, he has been our best all-around graduate.

Like many young Cambodians, Chamnan worked in a sweatshop clothing factory when he was in his early 20s. On top of the pathetic pay, long hours and poor working conditions, Chamnan touched some exposed electrical wires one day and was electrocuted. He suffered a stroke and blew out his vocal cords.

From that day forward his outer man began decaying, but his inner man kept growing stronger.

With that squeaky little voice, Chamnan reached a large number of poverty-stricken Cambodians with the Gospel. He held Bible classes every day.

He taught his last class Wednesday afternoon, April 18. He didn’t feel well, went to bed and fell asleep in Jesus. Sokhom officiated his funeral the next day with several of our guys joining him.

I miss Chamnan’s regular emails with serious Bible questions. I miss his smiling face — even when it was obvious he was in physical pain. I miss his healthy spiritual disposition that overshadowed his physical disability. I miss his tremendous example of faith, hope and love.

A mighty oak tree for the Lord fell April 19 at the age of 35, but our loss is heaven’s gain. I thank God we videoed Chamnan a couple of times. I hope people will take a few minutes to hear his words and let God use Chamnan to change their lives like he did mine.

Mike Meierhofer is preaching and evangelism minister for Walnut Hill Church of Christ in Dallas. He is president of Cambodia Christian Ministries, a nonprofit dedicated to “meeting the physical and spiritual needs of the poorest of the poor in Cambodia’s remote villages,” he says. For more information, see cambodiaministries.org.

Filed under: Cambodia Feature International Missions Opinion People

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