As in Christ God Forgave You
Whack! The orphanage director picked me up and slapped my cheek.
“Why did you hit me?” I protested.
Whack! He slapped my other cheek even harder. Tears rolled down my face. Nobody came to my defence.
“Salute during the national anthem! This is no time to play!”
“But, the boys behind pushed me.”
He wasn’t interested in explanations. He pointed at my forehead. “Don’t do it again! Or else!”
In the classroom I burned with anger. The director was a big man and my head still throbbed. I was eight years old. In my heart I made a promise. As long as I lived I would never forgive him. I would not rest until I had broken his head.
Burden of Hate
My father was killed during the reign of Pol Pot. My mother fled to Thailand, leaving me and my twin brothers with my uncle in Phnom Penh. My aunt did not want us. She took us to an orphanage. We were made to work hard and treated badly. One day I found a slingshot. I was delighted. With this weapon I would break the orphanage director’s head. Every day I practised. Soon I was able to drop fruit from the tallest trees to share with my brothers.
One evening I hid in a bush with my slingshot and waited for the director to walk by. Luckily for him I missed. He screamed and ran.
The next morning the director, my aunt and a strange man approached me. Did they know I had attacked the director? I was terrified. The stranger was my mother’s new husband and soon we were reunited with our mother. When she saw how skinny we were, she cried.
Freedom of Love
For ten years we lived together in a small shelter in Site Two Refugee Camp in Thailand. I studied English and French. My classmate, Yin Ya, was a Christian. He helped me when I missed class and visited me when I was sick. In 1990 he took me to church. Like Yin, everyone treated me like a brother. When the pastor explained the good news, I went forward and gave my life to Jesus.
The pastor gave me a Bible and helped me read it. I told him that for ten years anger had consumed me. He read from Scripture and prayed for me. “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge, I will repay.” I forgave the orphanage director and never dreamed about him again. Slowly, Jesus healed me. The Holy Spirit used a book, Reclaiming Love by Ajith Fernando, to help me experience the joy of God in a world of suffering.
In 1992 we returned to Phnom Penh. I joined a church and began to study theology. In 2010 I became senior editor with Christian publisher Fount of Wisdom. The pandemic has made our work more difficult. To avoid losing staff we all took a pay cut. Yet this crisis has given us the opportunity to review our work, reorganise and reach out to readers.
Sauphorn Soeun is Publication Supervisor at Christian publisher Fount of Wisdom, Phnom Penh.