I met Chamnan April 20, 2012 – I thought Sokhom had lost his mind. He and I were conducting a three day seminar for village house church leaders along with our Cambodia Bible School (CBS) students. As I glanced across the room it looked like we had some very capable men to equip with God’s word. Then I noticed this frail, 90 pound guy who was partially hunched over with crippled up hands. He spoke broken English with the squeakiest voice I’d ever heard. I asked Sokhom why he would bring this unimpressive house church leader to the seminar when funds and space were so limited. Sokhom said, “He is not a house church leader brother. He is a new full-time preaching student.” Then I really thought he was off his rocker.
From there God proceeded to teach me a very valuable and humbling lesson about judging people by appearance. For the next few days I visited with Chamnan, and I was blown away by his Bible knowledge, his love for the Lord, and his fiery desire to share the Good News of Jesus to the people in his village. Before the seminar ended I repented of my ungodly attitude and told Sokhom, “If I moved to Cambodia to do mission work, I would beg Chamnan to be my partner.” Everyone at CBS had the utmost respect for Chamnan, and to this day, he has been our best all-around graduate.
Like many young Cambodians, Chamnan worked in a sweatshop clothing factory when he was in his early 20’s. On top of the pathetic pay, long hours, and poor working conditions, Chamnan touched some exposed electrical wires one day and was electrocuted. He suffered a stroke and blew out his vocal cords. From that day forward his outer man began decaying, but his inner man kept growing stronger.
With that squeaky little voice Chamnan reached a large number of poverty-stricken Cambodians with the Gospel. He held Bible classes every day. He taught his last class Wednesday afternoon, April 18, 2018. He didn’t feel well, went to bed Wednesday night, and fell asleep in Jesus. Sokhom officiated his funeral the next day with several of our guys joining him.
I miss Chamnan’s regular emails with serious Bible questions. I miss his smiling face – even when it was obvious he was in physical pain. I miss his healthy spiritual disposition that overshadowed his physical disability. I miss his tremendous example of faith, hope and love.
A mighty oak tree for the Lord fell April 19, 2018 at the age of 35. Our loss is Heaven’s gain. I thank God we videoed Chamnan a couple of times. Take a couple of minutes to watch this video, and let God use Chamnan to change your life like he did mine.