Standing with their Heads Held High – the Daughters of Pleroma and Cambodia
By Heather Hui, Missionary and Assistant Field Director
April 13, 2020
How can a woman in Cambodia hold fast to her faith in a family that does not believe in God and in a society where Christians make up only 1% of the population? How can a village girl find her place and find work in a society that is male-dominated and has always trampled on the dignity and basic rights of women? It is the hardest ministry to change lives; more often than not, disappointment outweighs satisfaction. How has a girl persevered with this ministry for nine years?
This is why I interviewed Kimsang, a social worker who joined the Pleroma Home for Girls (PHG) nine years ago, a wounded healer and the Director of PHG.
Her Family – Because He Walks with Me
Kimsang’s husband – like all Cambodian men – thought himself superior to his wife, could do whatever his heart desired and enjoyed, and did not think marriage should be exclusive or that he should apologize for his mistakes. In the early days of their marriage, Kimsang suffered greatly and often cried about this. But she prayed to God for wisdom and courage, as well as His guidance in their marriage.
Gradually, Kimsang started sharing her thoughts with her husband, and even confronted him. Bit by bit, her husband started to understand and respect her and even promised that he would not be with any other woman and she would be his only wife in this lifetime.
Even though her husband was not a Christian, she shared with him biblical teachings about family. Praise the Lord that her husband was willing to listen to her. She even told her husband, “If I did not do as the Bible has said, please remind me.” Sometimes, when Kimsang fell short, her husband would be the person to remind her of what the Bible said. In the process, her husband has gradually learned to express himself and started helping out with housework. He would give most of his time to his family, treat it as his priority and even apologize to Kimsang when he did something wrong.
Christians in Cambodia are lonely, and at times, they have to pay a heavy price for their faith. I once met a young family who were living with their parents and they were kicked out because of their faith. As none of the family members of Kimsang’s husband were Christians, she faced a lot of pressure every time she visited them. For example, during Pchum Ben in September, all families had to pay respect to their ancestors at temples. However, Kimsang insisted on following the teachings of the Bible. The stress and tension she faced were indescribable.
A few years after they got married, Kimsang had not been able to have a baby. Her husband’s family were worried because it was embarrassing in Cambodia to have no children after marriage. Her parents-in-law had offered many times to bring Kimsang to temples to ask for blessings for a child. But Kimsang did not listen to them, which made them very unhappy. Nevertheless, Kimsang stood firm and prayed to God, surrendering it all to Him. At last, God blessed the couple with a son so that he could be a proof of God’s grace for her in-laws and proclaim that “I have triumphed with the grace of God.” In remembrance of this, she named her son Victory.
After giving birth, Kimsang did not stay home to take care of her son as a traditional Cambodian woman would. In the beginning, she was worried that her husband’s family might not be happy with her decision. Besides psychological stress and the change in role, she was thoroughly exhausted as she also had to work. But she discovered that, through working, the couple could take better care of her in-laws and provide for them. At the same time, her in-laws began to see that, although Christians did not worship at temples, the couple still cared for them and stayed by their side. They have now changed a lot and are starting to agree with the couple; They even support their decisions and their lifestyle and have gradually accepted Kimsang’s Christian faith.
Her Work – Because He Motivates Me