- Life Put Back Together Again. Tangiao finds God through hearing preaching and being part of an Alpha Group.
- From the Killing Fields To A Living Field. A Story of Escape from Cambodia and Conversion in NZ
- Experiencing Power. Selwyn tells his story of a hope fulfilled later in life
LIFE PUT BACK TOGETHER AGAIN
Kia Ora! I am a Christian. My walk with the Lord has been a long one in that I kept walking away and he kept finding me again. But in the end the Lord won that fight.
My name means ‘Crying world’, and all my life I felt I was crying out for help; crying out for someone, somewhere to save me. When I was a kid my parents separated and my Mum ended up with a man who solved his problems with alcohol and violence. He never touched us kids but I still grew up learning that men did what they wanted and if you tried to say ‘no’ they just beat you up and did it anyway. My Mum has since left that man, put her life back together and is an awesomely strong lady who I love very much.
But growing up in a violent home still leaves its marks and as I got older and others did abuse me I changed. I started pushing people away and by the time I was a teenager I didn’t care about anything or anyone anymore, including myself. But somehow even with all that, the Lord still found me.
When I was eight I was given a Bible and I fell in love with it. I read through Genesis and Exodus, and although my family would look at me in a funny way I’d pray before every meal and before I went to bed. Then when I was twelve my world fell apart and I turned away from the Lord. I started living life on the idea that if you keep people away then they can’t hurt you. But the problem with that thinking is that you end up alone. You’re so alone and it’s so hard not to care.
When I was sixteen my aunty took me to some seminars which turned out to be about Jesus and Christianity. I felt tricked and was stubborn, but every night the speaker seemed to talk about the problems I was facing, and by the end of the week I did something I hadn’t done for nearly five years. I prayed.
After everyone had gone to sleep I went into the lounge, got down on my knees and prayed. Now I didn’t give my life to the Lord that night, but I opened my heart to the possibility that love did exist if only I was willing to believe in it.
When I was 18 at university as I had a scholarship, I was sitting an exam I was really stressed about. I didn’t think I would pass, I prayed, and just got this feeling that the Lord would take care of it, and that I didn’t have to worry. I felt that the Holy Spirit was real, and that I just had to have faith.
Recently Kotoni Feao was preaching and he challenged us to who was saved. When others put their hand up but I didn’t, I realised that I wasn’t actually saved. In cell group and at Alpha we talked about salvation coming from God’s grace and not by what we do. And one night after Alpha I talked with Papa about it and I realised that the Lord would forgive me just as I am, and forgive me. So that night Papa and I prayed together and I asked the Lord for forgiveness.
And so, now I am a Christian. I have learnt that cycles can be broken. I have learnt that families can pick up the pieces and grow stronger together. I have learnt that there are awesome men in the world and I thank the Lord for giving me one of them. I have learnt that the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for me, and that with all my faults and flaws he loves me. In short I have learnt that the Lord’s love has saved me.
FROM THE KILLING FIELDS
TO A LIVING FIELD
Siv Leng, who has been attending St Martin's for 14 years with her family, and has been the person behind the start up of the Cambodian Bible Fellowship at St Martin's last year, shares her dramatic story.
I grew up in a Buddhist family in Cambodia. Our family would go to the temple twice each year. On that occasion we would buy kitchenware, pillows, mats, and food to give to the monks. Every day, morning and night, the adults would pray at the Buddhist shrine in our home. We had a picture of Buddha on the wall, and there were candles below the picture which would be lit. We regularly supplied cooked food for the local monks who depended on food supplied to them. We thought Buddha was God.
The years 1975 to 1979 are known now as the killing fields time. The Khmer Rouge Communists tried to take over Cambodia. They were ruthless to the people, and millions of people were killed. My father had died before this, but there was my mother, two brothers, and two sisters with their families.
We were living in Phnom Penh, but the Khmer Rouge forced us out of the city. They did this by lying to us that we had to go to the airport, and then later could come back. We were not allowed to take anything. Everyone walked. We slept at the airport for one night. We asked to go back home, but they refused to allow us. We were told to keep walking. I was 26years old. With us were my mother, and two sisters and their families. My two brothers joined us later. We then walked for 3 days to another province. Soldiers with guns were behind us to force us to go on. We kept on walking, and soon realised that we would not be allowed to go home again, and that the soldiers had been telling us lies.
As we came to an area near where we used to live, we were able to find a way to go to our old home village. We lived there for 9 months - there was plenty of food there. But then the soldiers came and told us to move on again. They weren't happy for us to have plenty of food. At this time they separated our family also, so I was alone with my mother. They took us by an army truck to a train station and which took us on an overnight journey to a far province. The place where we were taken to had no water and not enough food. We were there for 7 months.
Because of a lack of food over all this time, we got very weak and sick. We couldn't do anything except sleep because we didn't have any energy. At that time I was not afraid of dying. I thought it was better to die than to suffer. My mother looked after me with a bit of boiled water and some medicine. After a few days I could get up and eat. About 4-5 days later I could walk a few meters, so I set out to look for my brothers. On one day I was able to walk 1 kilometer. Eventually when I got to the hospital, I asked someone about my brothers and they told us he had died. My older brother died in the hospital, and my younger brother died after that. I walked back home to tell my mother. She didn't say anything.
A few years later, the soldiers tried to take me away from my mother. We were not allowed to grow any food. I appealed to the leader to let me stay and look after my mother. They refused, and told me to be ready to be taken away the next morning. I couldn't sleep that night. Early in the morning I put all my possessions into a small bag, and two buses came to pick up a big group of us girls from the village. They had all of our names on a list. As they read out the names, my name was not read out. I was allowed to go back home. I was then called to work in the fields - planting rice.
One day during my lunch break, I walked back towards home, and I noticed a small whirl-wind on the road ahead of me. I went closer to look at what was lying on the road at the base of the wind. Was it a snake? Then I saw with surprise a heap of fresh fish there. There was no water anywhere near, so where did the fish come from? I filled up my small bag and took them to my mother to cook, and then went back to work again. That night we had a special meal - the fish were very nice.
We moved to another field, and we had another leader looking after us. He was a wild man who wanted to kill me. I was afraid of what he would do to me, especially they way he was looking at me. But that day, the Vietnamese soldiers who were fighting against the Khmer Rouge took over our area. The leaders looking after us escaped. We just stayed in the fields working. Then when we realised what had happened, we were able to run home to our loved ones. The Vietnamese soldiers took us into a temple at night for our protection.
It was then that my mother died of a heart attack - she was about 60 years old. The Vietnamese soldiers brought a lot of food which they shared with us. But it was too late for my mother.
Searching For Family
It was 1979 when I came back to Phnom Penh to look for my sisters. Someone told me that one of them had gone to Vietnam, So I went to Vietnam to look for her. When I got there I still couldn't find her, so I returned. At this time I got married. We then travelled to the refugee camps on the Thailand border to look for my sisters.
My husband and I stayed in the camp at Retisan. Our huts were tin houses, and they were very hot during the day. At night I would sit outside, and see the big moon, and pray to it, "Do you know where my sister is?" Every night I talked to the moon - I thought the moon may be God. My first child, David was born while we were in this camp.
Not long after this I found a second cousin, who helped us to move to another camp. At this new camp, some men came to talk with us about going to another country. The man said he would sponsor me. Two weeks later a friend of this man came from Canada to take me there.
But in the meantime I found out about a cousin who was living in America. She sent me a letter with a photo of my sister. It was hard to recognise her as my sister. But she told me that my sister, Meing Tang was in New Zealand. She lives on the North Shore. So my sister was able to sponsor me to come to NZ.
I became a Christian after we came to New Zealand. My sister was going to church, and she invited to me to come with her. She said, "Jesus is the Lord. He can do anything." I was amazed that we had been separated, but now were together again. My sister was so loving, that I thought I should go with her.
After arriving in New Zealand, we stayed in the Mangere Immigrants Hostel for 6 weeks. It was there that I learnt to speak some English. David was only 7 months old. After that we were sponsored to Dunedin. Where we lived for 3 1/2 years. My sponsor never brought me to church. If they had asked me I might have said `yes'. Molika and Anthony were born in Dunedin.
A man who was going from door to door knocked on the door to my house. My husband answered the door, and the man invited us to a home Bible study. My husband said that I would like to go. The leader of the group was Dr Andrew Read, who taught me the Bible and showed me how to pray. He helped poor students from overseas, and had a Bible Fellowship in his house with people of every nationality together - about 10 people altogether. It was then I accepted Jesus.
Then we decided to move back to Auckland to buy a house. I prayed that God would lead us to the right place, a brand new house with a verandah - close to a church and school. The Lord answered that prayer exactly. Soon after we bought the house we drove past and saw St Martin's. This was in 1987. On Sunday we all walked together to St Martin's. Anthony was 1year old - he had just started walking. We didn't know anyone at St Martin's, and I was just standing outside the front of the church, feeling afraid of going in, when a lady saw me and invited me in. That was Melita Campbell.
The very good thing about the Christian faith is forgiveness. There is no forgiveness in Buddhism. I was very angry in my heart with the Khmer Rouge. But now I have forgiven them. I can even go to the house of those who were Khmer Rouge and share in their parties. Some Christian friends helped me to forgive the Khmer Rouge by telling me to ask the Lord to change my heart. I knew that if I was angry, I could not go to the Lord. So I have forgiven them for what they did to my family.
Selwyn, is a member at St Martin's, who is actively involved with the youth of our church, even though he himself is retired. He shared this testimony with a youth service at the end of November 2000.
"Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?" -Acts 19:2
In 1949, which is probably a long time ago, I was 15 years of age. I belonged to a church group and I was vaguely interested. That is the best way I can describe it. My school work was not good, in fact my teacher said, "Very weak. Poor. Why are you here?" I had not seen the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. So it wasn't a copy-cat exercise for me. The week before my appointment with the Holy Spirit, I felt something was going to happen.
Something within me was driving me. I needed to be at this particular church service. I was excited about it for some reason or other.
The event was something that stayed with me all my life. It was an event so dramatic to me that convinced me that God is alive today, yesterday and forever. We had a small church group. It was probably only a dozen of us there. We met in a room in Cuba Street, Wellington. In 1949 that was the head office of Opium. It wasn't illegal in those days. And we had just been on a street corner. The Salvation Army was actually across the road, and we were giving out testimonies and talking as it were to blank walls. But God was with us.
We had our formal hymn and prayers were offered to the Lord. Then we sang a song which I will never forget. And it was just the words `Sweet Spirit, sweep over my soul.' And we sang it many times, just like we sing now. ` Sweet Spirit, sweep over my soul.' I remember asking the Lord, that the Holy Spirit would flow over me, 15 years of age. My body felt like I had received a soft electric current. It was a kind of electricity, but I can't describe it in terms of physical electricity. But it was like that. It was soft. It was identifiable. And then I keeled over on the floor. Wham! Flat on my back. There were no people catching me. I didn't even know it was going to happen.
It was a hard wooden floor with no carpet. Now to my way of thinking that wasn't the thing to do in a church service. So I tried to stand up, and over I went again. I tried to stand up again, and over I went again. I kept falling over. I couldn't stand up. Why couldn't I get up? This went on for some time. About 2 1/2 hours somebody told me. I was out of time. I wasn't in time at all. I was crashing to the floor. I would stand up and stagger and everything would collapse again. Perhaps you can't stand in the presence of God. And I remember one of the other church members telling me that this went on for 3 hours. Crashing on the floor, standing up, crashing… Stubborn? You've got no idea how stubborn I am … or I was. Finally I let God have his wonderful way with me, and I just stayed there. And I felt that I had gone from this world. I was with the Spirit. It was the most strange, wonderful, awesome experience I have ever had. Absolutely magnificent.
It was about midnight before we left Cuba Street, Wellington. Everything was shut. There were no buses. Somehow or other we got home. I can't remember how I got home. My parents were sound asleep. I snuck in through the back door and didn't say very much. But somehow or other I was a different person. I wasn't ready to bash the other guy across the front of the face any longer when he gave me cheek. I had red hair. They tell me that we are fiery people. I wasn't like that any longer. I knew that Christ was my Saviour. That was so overwhelming. He was with me. And I also knew that he died on the cross for me.
"It was the most strange, wonderful, awesome experience I have ever had. Absolutely magnificent."
What about after this appointment with God? My school work improved dramatically, so much so that I went from a D class to an A class. I started to work. I started to believe there was some kind of future. Because in those days the atomic bomb was being let off in some dramatic form. And before my experience with God I wasn't sure there was a future. I'm 66. There is a future.
In my early twenties I was really tested spiritually. I was put in Middlemore Hospital here for 7 months with a disease that was potentially fatal. I was put into traction for about 7 months which was an experience to test anybody's soul. During that time they took sticking plaster off my legs, and that hurt. And yet the Spirit was still with me. God was with me, and I knew that. 18 months later I still couldn't exactly run. As you know I don't exactly run. I am not going to volunteer to go tramping with anybody, but I would sure help you if I could. I've done some of that. When I was in hospital one of the surgeon's said to me, "What are you going to do when you get out of hospital. I said, "I'm going to climb all the mountain peaks in the north Island of NZ. I achieved that by the age of 26. And I give God the glory for that. Because on the mountain top sometimes you can experience God.
I am going to jump now to 40 years later - here and now, November 2000. At the end of my first prayer ministry session with Elaine and Brian, I was anointed with oil. I was kneeling down in the room, and I felt a hand on my shoulder just here. This brought the same type of electricity I had experienced before - that is the only way I can describe it. I didn't want to go forward, but the pressure kept going. I dropped forward onto a chair. I knew this was the Holy Spirit. A 66 year old. No worries. This convinced me again that God was with me, and that God can be with you. And I know Brian and Elaine will remember me saying, "Who pushed me?" And immediately they said, "Not us". And I knew who it was. The Holy Spirit was there in that room. And we all felt it - the three of us.
What I am going to say to you now is this. Don't let this opportunity go by. If only one person receives the Holy Spirit, the angels in heaven will rejoice. And it doesn't matter how old you are or how young you are. If you are 105 it doesn't matter. If you are 16 it doesn't matter. If you are 5 it doesn't matter. The Spirit of the Lord will accept you. Let the Spirit of the Lord come into your life. Today, you have an opportunity for an appointment with God. God bless.
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