Rev. Sopheak (So + Pay + Uhk) Kheng
(Kheng: Sounds the same as the “Kang” in “Kangaroo”)
It was the tail end of the Pol Pot regime and genocide was ending when Sopheak was born. Missionaries were allowed to come into Cambodia following this horrible ethnic cleansing in the early nineties. In 1992, Sopheak and his family were introduced to and met Christ because of these first A/G missionaries who entered after the war.
Before Christ changed their family, his father was a cornel in the Cambodian army. His mother had become a heavy drinker a year or so after he was born to cope with life. He was the leader of the largest gang in the capital city. When Christ came into their lives, there was an immediate change. His father left the army and settled down to be a good and faithful father/husband to his family. He also studied at the A/G Bible School, graduating in the first class of pastors to be ordained. His mother immediately stopped drinking alcohol and also went to studied Bible at the A/G school, also becoming a pastor. Sopheak was so absorbed with the things of God and the church that he “accidentally” left the gang as of the moment he began to follow Christ.
Shortly after finding Christ Sopheak went on to work in children’s ministries and started Children’s outreach stations throughout Cambodia and became the national director for children’s Sunday School in Cambodia.
God has called Sopheak to go to places in the world that have never yet been touched by the Gospel. But not to just bring people into a conversion experience with Christ but to have solid, reproducing disciples coming out of areas where there had been no witness of Christ. Sopheak helped his father start several churches around the Phnom Penh area. Before he began to lead efforts to plant other churches stretching further out. Still his heart burned to plant churches in unreached areas of Cambodia and beyond. He felt the best way was to slowly build his way out of Phnom Penh. He had reached Stung Treng, Cambodia (next to communist Lao’s borders) when he planted his tenth church with a group of missionaries there. The church was running around 60-100 regular attenders when he left. Even though this area is very poor, this church was able to give offerings over multiple thousands for the sake of evangelizing areas where the Gospel had not yet been preached. This area had been virtually untouched by the gospel due to its remote geographic location and linguistic differences (this area is highly populated by ethnic Lao).
It was in this remote province where Sopheak met his wife, Amy, an American A/G missionary at the time. They moved to the US to learn English and American culture for a couple of years. However, during this time in the US they became associated with the Cambodian people and the church in America and became deeply grieved by the state of the Cambodian community in the USA.
It is their personal conviction that discipleship, as exemplified by Christ in the New Testament, should change every fiber of one’s being. Our identity completely changes from being that of one’s ethnicity, occupations, or talents to be complete only when we submit our lives to be that of Christ. When we find our identity in Christ is the only point where we will be able to be completely free and be able to be completely who we were created for.
Discipleship is not something that happens on Sunday morning in a Bible study class. But, discipleship is when we intentionally give people the opportunity to live with us, know us, walk with us and see us every day of the week. Where they can see our lives during the good, the bad and the ugly. Where life is lived out and Jesus is applied to practical every day circumstances and allows the disciple the opportunity to discuss and wrestle with God’s Word. Discipleship doesn’t come in a formula/one-size fits all method, but to make deep world-view changes we must address the actual questions and difficulties that the person wrestles with.