“Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” — 2 Timothy 3:12.
On the edge of a rice paddy the soldiers bound the hands and feet of four boys. Encircling them were hundreds of other paper-thin boys too weak and scared to put up a fight. Starvation, forced labor, and torture have a way of doing that to kids. Dareth Ly, then 9 years old, stared at the bound boys. They were his co-laborers and co-sufferers. More importantly, they were friends. Now they were going to die. The Khmer Rouge soldiers were killing for the sake of killing and were intoxicated by the power they had been given. With no remorse and machine-like efficiency, the soldiers pulled clear plastic bags over their victims’ heads. Within minutes they were dead. Tomorrow, they promised, more boys would die.
After four years of captivity Ly’s resolve to live was high, but physically he was waning. Each day he and the 30 boys who were still alive were dragged into the rice patties though too weak to work. One day, mortar rounds rained down on the rice patty. The Vietnamese had invaded Cambodia to eradicate the Khmer Rouge. Though freed from the labor camps, Ly and the others were far from safe.
Ly and his stepsister were put on a plane and flown to Minnesota. His stepsister eventually moved to Boston and Ly was put in child protective custody until a woman took him in and introduced him to church. He became involved in the church’s youth group. At a Bible retreat he committed his life to Christ. The nightmares had finally disappeared. As Ly grew in his faith he promised to serve God any way He desired. Though he wanted and was willing to serve in ministry, he never considered going back to Cambodia to do so. Missionaries working in Cambodia asked him to return to Cambodia to help them. His life would never be the same.
Ly wanted the people of Cambodia to hear the message of hope that is the gospel. Upon returning to Minnesota, he married, had children and settled into his occupation as a counselor in a Minneapolis group home. Though he tried to forget about Cambodia, he dreamed of it often and felt burdened for the people. In 1995, he applied to become a missionary to Cambodia.
Today, Ly is busy training Cambodians to become leaders not only in the church but also in the country. His main goal is to spread the good news because he believes the future of the country is in Jesus Christ. As Ly ministers in Cambodia he sometimes drives past the Killing Fields where he almost died. It is estimated the Khmer Rouge regime killed nearly 2 million Cambodians.
“What Satan intended for evil the Lord is using for good,” says Ly. “Someday revival will come to Cambodia.”