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February 2, 2015

I knew it was Jesus

Written by  Srey Naet as told to Debbie Coats
Srey Naet stands at the top of the steps leading into her home. Srey Naet stands at the top of the steps leading into her home. Photo by Sombath Phisut.

My name is Srey Naet. I am 15 years old and in the 7th grade. I live in a village in Southeastern Cambodia. My father left my mother many years ago. My mother remarried, but I hardly see her and my stepfather because they both work in Thailand as migrant workers and hardly ever come home. I live with my grandparents. I have a four-year-old sister.

I met Teacher Sophal when I was five years old. He came to my village a long time ago and taught our village about the problems with smoking. Teacher Sophal was a believer in the God Jesus, and I became curious about his god.

Last year, Teacher Sophal came to my village again with some other teachers and they said they were starting a Christian character children's program near our village. They invited me to join.

My parents are Buddhists but they said it was okay for me to join even though it was a Christian program. I added my name to the list immediately. My parents thought I might learn some good things because the teachers said they would teach good character and how the God Jesus wants us to live and behave. Soon after I joined I decided I wanted to follow Jesus very much.

Six weeks ago, my little sister spilled some water on the front steps to my house, making them slippery. I slipped and hit my head hard at the bottom of the concrete landing. Neighbors say I was unconscious for maybe 20 minutes and my head was bleeding.

For the next few days I had trouble remembering many things. My friends had to lead me to our tutoring class [a part of the Christian character program] the next day because I could not remember where the place was. I didn't even remember that I was enrolled in the tutoring class.

While I was unconscious, I saw a man dressed in very white clothes -- I knew it was Jesus. He took my hand and said to me, "Child, rise up and stand up. Follow me and obey me. Patiently persevere in all your studies, listen to your teachers, and do not make it hard for them to teach. Obey your father and mother, and help them. Follow and obey me as God only." He also told me to love my friends and neighbors. This was not a dream. I saw Jesus Himself and He spoke to me.

I enjoy going to the children's program. The teachers teach me to become a better person, not to lie, and to change my behavior to obey God. They gave us a school uniform, and some books and pens for school.

The teachers also tell us many stories from the Bible. My favorite ones are about Adam and Eve, Joseph, and Jesus. I like the ones about Jesus because He came to get rid of my sins. I also like to hear about Joseph because he persevered so persistently in his difficult trials and still did what was right.

Now if I have problems in my family, I pray. If I don't understand my school lessons, I pray and ask God to help me to understand them. I also ask God to bless me when I study to take my exams. I like to tell my friends about Jesus. A few of them have already agreed to follow Him, too.

Editor's note: When Debbie asked Srey if there was something she would like to say to the American Christians who support the Christian character children's program, she answered, "I would like for them to believe in the only true God Jesus, just like me."

Debbie and her husband John serve with EMM in church development, discipleship, and health and community development in Cambodia.