“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” ~ Edmund Burke.
I spent today with a good man. One who is making a difference in the lives of others. His name is Sareth. He survived the reign of Pol Pot and the killing fields in Cambodia. At 5 he was ripped from his parents. He had no clothes and his only possession was a blanket from his mom until that was taken from him. He would often sleep like a frog; His body in the water with his head on the bank because the water would be warmer than the air during the long winter nights.
After horrible experiences during that time his heart became very hard. God rescued him and drew him to himself at the age of 19. He went on to Paris to study environmental engineering and then the Philippines to attend Seminary and get his Masters of Divinity Degree. He now lives in a small house with no running water, no electricity and no Internet in a village of 540 families. I asked why he had chosen to live here instead of in town where he could have some of the modern conveniences that he had experienced overseas.
There are two reasons he told me. The first was to see what was going on in the border area first hand. (He has named his house the Minefield Hospitality House because of all the mines laid there during their conflict with Thailand) The second was because he heard there was a bad man who was trying to take the land from the people. The land owner had sold off the land but was trying to force the villagers off the land through a variety of means or at least hope they would not be able to make the meager payments and he could resell the land to others.
Sareth moved into the village two years ago and began helping them communicate and understand the different things that were going on in this battle for the land. He started a church and has since hired a pastor that he provides for monthly so that he can pastor the people of the village and not have to work. One of the keys to the land battle was the access to the land because the land owner was trying to sell the land between the village and the road. Sareth, with the help of others from Cadence and LightBridge purchased land to develop a road.
He sent letters to the village leaders, district and provincial leaders and to the largest local city council asking for permission to build a road, which would add legitimacy to their claims to the land. No one responded. He sent another letter to all of the same people asking them to deny permission to build the road. No one responded again. So he moved forward building the road. The road was completed yesterday.
I visited the village 4 months ago and it seems like a different place. A few years ago the only way into the village during rainy season was to walk through mud soaked paths. The new road has opened up the village. At the front of the road the property has a small place for a small store for the villages to sell their goods and produce.
In addition to the land owner the village leader was a corrupt man as well working with the land owner against the villagers. Sareth and others prayed against this man. He ended up in jail for other corruption. A few months later he had to sell his house (one of the nicest in the village) and land for $700. The house alone was worth $2000. Sareth purchased the house to extend his ministry in the village and provide a place of hospitality to others.
Yesterday the 30 village leaders got together and asked Sareth to be the new village leader. He said that he would continue to be their advisor, pastor, counselor and friend but that they needed to elect someone from within their own ranks to lead them.
One of the ladies told him “The road from the Lord Jesus gives us freedom.” They have hope for their future and there is an excitement in the village. I can’t wait to see what the place looks like in another year. Plans are in the works for an elementary school, playground, community center and soccer field. The land has been leveled and construction will soon begin.