Ponleu is a 27-year-old Cambodian migrant worker in Thailand. He was born into a Buddhist family with three siblings. He lost his father when he was only five years old. His mother could not care for him and his siblings by herself. He and his siblings were raised by their grandparents. Due to poverty, Ponleu only managed to study until fifth grade. When he was fifteen years old, he decided to go to Thailand to find a better job to earn more money.
When Ponleu finally got a good job, he experienced a higher standard of living, but then he became an alcoholic. “Instead of saving money, I spent a lot on drinking because my life seemed empty. I never let a day pass by without drinking,” he said. For two years, Ponleu was miserable because of his drinking obsession.
Finally, he met a Bible League-trained pastor ministering among the migrant workers and joined one of his Project Philip Bible studies. “At first, I did not quite understand why I needed Jesus. But when I returned to my room, I started thinking about my life, and God reminded me of my purpose for coming to Thailand. Then I realized that Jesus could help me accomplish my original goal, which is to earn money for my family,” Ponleu said. “I want to get back on the right track, so I decided to go to the church, and that Sunday morning, I opened my heart to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. God changed me, and I became a servant of God from that day onwards.”
He continues, “My life was miserable, I got what I wanted, yet I still felt empty. I turned to Jesus, He changed me, and I became a servant of God from that day onwards.”
After participating in the Project Philip Bible study training, Ponleu started following the program to conduct Bible studies in his community. He noticed that the people responded very well because they quickly understood what he was sharing. He also noticed that his fellow Cambodian migrant workers gradually changed their way of living after hearing the Gospel. As Ponleu shared his testimony, they stopped drinking, gambling, and using drugs and had fewer family quarrels. “It appears like God is putting us all back on the right track,” he said.
“If the Bible League did not prepare me, I would not be this effective in my evangelism and discipleship ministry,” Ponleu said. Most Cambodians culturally and religiously dispute Christian teachings. Whenever they hear the Gospel, they would resist so quickly; thus, most people in Cambodia do not know the Lord. But the Cambodians who came to work in Thailand seemed to have a better mindset toward Christianity. As a result, many of them readily accepted Jesus. One reason is because there is no social pressure around them, and due to financial stress, they tend to seek refuge with Jesus.
“Since I became a Christian, my favorite Bible verse is Matthew 11:28, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’ Now, instead of getting drunk with the spirit of alcohol, I’m always drunk with the presence of the Holy Spirit,” Ponleu said. “God has called me through the great commission of Christ in Matthew 28:18-20. I want to see more people, both Thais and Cambodians, be saved and join us in worshiping God. Therefore, I will continue to share the Good News with them,” he continued.
Ponleu shares his gratitude and prayer request: “Thank you very much to the Bible League and the donors for the training and materials you provided. Pray for my family in Cambodia to open their hearts one day and accept Jesus Christ as I did. Pray for our church as well; the COVID-19 situation affects our church gatherings and usual activities, and our employers are asking us to avoid going to church because they are apprehensive that we might get the virus.”