Rev. Sopha Korn (pictured reading LHF’s Khmer translation of A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories to village children, at right) is a translator and distributor of LHF’s books in Cambodia. This is his story of finding peace in Christ, taught in LHF books. Buddhist Conversion to Christianity
Tell us about yourself. How did you become a Christian?
I am 40 years old and a father of three children. I was born in a poor Buddhist family in 1980, a year after the collapse of Khmer Rouge regime.
Growing up, I always tried to live as a very good Buddhist. I was often taught at school (as well as at home) that if I do good, I will receive good, and this merit will be with me always. If it does not happen in this life, it will happen in my next life or even protect my soul from severe punishment in hell after I die.
In 1999, I moved to Phnom Penh to study biology. Because I could not afford to pay for any rental room across the city, I had no choice: I was forced to stay at a student center, whose owner was a Christian. At first, I felt uncomfortable living among Christians. But after I lived there for four months, I was surprised and touched by how Christians treated me well, very friendly and warm.
As a result, I came to faith in Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and was baptized on March 25, 2000. The thing that had inspired me the most to put my faith in Jesus was the satisfying answers to my long time questions about existence of the triune God, how the creatures were orderly created and how Jesus, God the Son, came to be conceived by God, the Holy Spirit, to die on the cross to atone my sins.
Why did you become a Lutheran?
I became a Lutheran because I believe that Lutheran teachings are Bible-based teachings and confess the truths of God’s Word as they are summarized and confessed in the Book of Concord.
When I was in the Reformed faith, I had so many burdens. I was taught that I must bear fruit (convert more people into Christianity), or I would be cut off. I must live a perfect life, to be salt and light to the non-believer.
At first, I could do it with pride, and I enjoyed my pious Christian life for some years. But at the point I started failing to do those things, I had a troubled life and felt ashamed to say that I was a Christian.
Since becoming a Lutheran, I feel that my heavy burden has been taken from my shoulders. By the grace of God, through reading LHF books and through discussing from Lutheran pastors and instructors, I have come to realize that God has so much mercy and forgiveness for my failing life! I always reflect on my sins while receiving the Sacrament of the Altar.
Why are LHF’s books important for the Church in Cambodia?
LHF’s books are very important for the Cambodia Lutheran Church because LHF’s books are effective tools for conducting the worship service order, for serving the Sacraments and for teaching the congregation to know Lutheran doctrine.
Through reading LHF’s books, readers can see the Gospel and turn back to God. The church also plays a very important role in teaching LHF books to nonbelievers or villagers, so that the Holy Spirit will work in their hearts and they later become Christians.
What are the challenges to sharing the faith?
According to Cambodian law, we are free to believe and worship in any religion. However, we do have challenges to spreading the Christian faith in Cambodia.
First, because most Cambodians are Buddhists, they are afraid to accept another religion for fear of being cut off from friends, family members, or from the community, or to be looked down or to be gossiped by their neighbors.
Second, the Cambodian people don’t want to abandon their ancestor worship or abandon their traditions, which they are required to observe from generation to generation. They fear being strangers or isolated in the Buddhist society.
How have LHF’s books helped?
There are many Cambodian people who are impacted by reading a book from LHF. One of them is Pitou Ny. He is 10 years old and in grade 3. When Pitou was 4 years old, his parents broke up, and the mother went to get married with another man. His father is a poor fisherman, so Pitou, his sister and father moved to his aunt’s house to live.
One day in 2019, when he heard about a pastor teaching A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories to the children in the village, he walked to study with them. After learning from the book for some months, he began to believe in Jesus Christ and was then baptized in December 28, 2019 at Christ of Hope Lutheran Church!
On behalf of LHF-Cambodia, I would like to express deep gratitude to all American donors and supporters who have kind hearts, not only in praying for my Cambodian people, but also giving their generous gifts for printing LHF’s books in Cambodian language. Through these generous gifts, LHF is able to spread and sow the seeds of the Gospel in this Buddhist country.