Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Story

Soeuth Lao is the 3rd child in a family of 7children and was raised in a Buddhist home in the Battambang Province in the northwest region of Cambodia.  At the age of 12, when the country fell into the hands of the communist regime, he was separated from his family for over 3 years.  During the separation, Soeuth lived in a concentration camp among hundreds of other children and struggled a great deal just to survive.  There were constant moments of hunger from the lack of food, of fear of being killed by the Khmer Rogue soldiers, of always trying to do things that would please the leaders, and also constant moments of loneliness, homesickness and longing for close family members.  

            Toward the end of the KR regime in January 1979, another war took over Cambodia.  This time, it was the communists from South Vietnam.  The entire Cambodian government was fully controlled by the foreigners.  During this war outbreak, by the grace of God, Soeuth was miraculously reunited with his loved ones, the family whom he had not seen for over 3.5 years. At the reunion, he learned that one of his bothers was killed and that his mother was pregnant and was about to give birth to his youngest brother.  Another brother was also born during his time of separation.  At the moment of meeting his family again, Soeuth vowed he would never leave his family ever again. 

             Yet, poverty changed this course of life.  In the summer of 1982, because of poverty and the fear of being drafted into the communist military, Soeuth was once again forced to abandon his beloved home and family.  Without telling anyone about his plans, Soeuth left Battambang province headed toward the northwest area to the Cambodian-Thailand border.  With the help of some hired guides and with many difficulties, he made it safely to a refugee camp in Thailand.  It was in the refugee camps where he first heard about Christianity, but he was not interested at all. In fact, Soeuth's theory was that if you are a Khmer, your religion is Buddhism.  Soeuth became furious at any Khmer person who converted to Christianity.  Over the course of time, his heart softened towards those who chose Christianity. 

            In September of 1983, Soeuth was sponsored by a family to come to New York City.  His first settlement was in the Bronx, NY!  Compared to where he had been and not knowing the reality of what the Bronx was like, he thought that the Bronx was heaven!  Reality quickly taught him that this was not heaven at all.  Yet, Soeuth continued to live there with his distant relatives. Despite a good life, having the opportunity to go to school, enjoying a life of party and fun, Soeuth was still quite restless with life.  He felt that something was missing deep in his heart.  One day Soeuth met a friend who used to go to church while living in the refugee camps. Through the help of his friends, Soeuth was introduced to church.  His first time attending church was not what he hoped it to be. But out of respect for his friends, and because of the friendly atmosphere of the church family, Soeuth slowly began to show great interest in going to church.   But mostly, he was going there for fellowship.  
at Living Water Church
               Until one day, Soeuth's uncle who he has living with, confronted him with making a decision.  If he was to continue living at home, he must quit going to church. Otherwise, he must leave the house.  That was a turning point for Soeuth.  He was no longer playing with God.  He decided to be serious with God by moving out of his uncle's home and moving in to live with his pastor.  Through living with his pastor, Soeuth grew a lot spiritually.  Upon graduation from high school, his pastor strongly urged him to give Nyack College a try. And he did.  It was in Nyack College during one of the mission chapel services that Soeuth felt his call into full-time service.  There, he recommitted his life to God and dedicated his life to full-time ministry. 

            Upon graduation from Nyack College, Soeuth was able to go for a 3-month mission service along the borders of Thailand into refugee camps where he was once a resident. God confirmed in his heart once more that the mission field was where he belonged.  Returning home to New York City, Soeuth married Syna and together, they served in a home service at a Cambodian church in the Bronx, a church where Soeuth had attended as a youth.  He served there for 4 years as pastor while attending part time at the Seminary.  Finally in August of 1995, Soeuth and Syna were sent out to Cambodia as missionary associates with the C&MA.

            After two years of overseas service, the Laos returned to their homeland of Cambodia to serve as career missionaries with the C&MA where they have been serving until this present day. While serving in Cambodia, God blessed them with two wonderful sons, Justin and Jonathan.  Because of what they had gone through as children living under harsh conditions at the hands of communist regimes, and because God had miraculously spared their lives for His own purpose, the Laos are now happily serving Jesus among the Khmer people along the borders of their homeland working amongst the poorest of the poor of Cambodia, sharing the Good News of Jesus, bringing the Hope and Salvation in Jesus to the lost, and shining the Light of Jesus to this darkest part of the world.