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From Vietnam to Vancouver to Cambodia

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I was born and raised in Saigon, Vietnam, with Chinese parents who worshipped ancestors, Buddha, and other idols. My father’s business was seized in 1975, when the Communists took over Saigon. In 1978, for the sake of freedom, our family escaped the country. We travelled by train to China, then spent 30 days on a 40-foot sailboat to Hong Kong. My first contact with Christianity was at the refugee camp when a pastor came to preach every Sunday.

After arriving in Vancouver as refugees in 1979, my family was touched by the unconditional love and care shown us by our sponsors, members of a Baptist church. They introduced my sister and me to the Chinese youth fellowship, where, in 1980, I was touched by God’s love in sending his Son. I confessed my sins, and received Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

Before I became a child of God, my heart was filled with bitterness and hatred toward people and God. To me, life was not fair and not worth living. However, after I became a Christian, my life was filled with joy and hope. My attitude toward life and God was positive because I knew God has a plan for my life. Romans 8:28 reminded me there must be a purpose in all the trials and hardships he took me through.

Call to ministry

In my third year of study at Prairie Bible Institute, God’s call came to me through a mission conference. I responded to God’s word in Romans 10:13–15: “for ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then can they call on the one they have not believed in?… ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” I surrendered my life to God and committed to serve him wholeheartedly.

After I graduated from Prairie in 1990, God used my two years working with elementary children to open my eyes to the need for and importance of child evangelism. In 1992, God led me to serve in Burnaby Pacific Grace Church as children’s ministry pastor.

Through those nine years of serving in children’s ministry, God affirmed in me the gifts of administration and shepherding. The church was without a senior pastor, so in 2001 when I returned from a sabbatical, I was invited by the board to take up the position of executive pastor. God has been gracious to me as he empowered me with his strength to shepherd his flock for the last 14 years.

In my ministry at the church, God encouraged me with his Word from 2 Corinthians 12:9: “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

As I evaluated my ministry, I felt that I focused on the efficiency of the work over nurturing my soul in God. I decided to devote the next two years of my life to studying his Word in the Alliance seminary in Hong Kong. I resigned from pastoral ministry at the end of August 2006. I was refreshed in God’s Word and my life was recharged and renewed.

In 2007, a short-term mission trip confirmed God’s call to Cambodia. I was seeking where God would want me to serve in Asia when a missionary friend, Janice Lo, invited me to Cambodia to find out God’s leading for me in this country.

The power of God’s Word

In my three weeks there, God gave me the opportunity to teach the Bible lesson to a group of children and teens. I used the lesson of how Jesus had the power to set the demon-possessed man free from the control of the evil spirit. Many children decided to believe and trust Jesus.

I rejoiced that the truth and power of God’s Word had set those young people free from the fear of Satan. After the meeting, they took us around the village and told us how the demons had taken over many of their family’s lives. We walked around singing praises to God, the One who has power to overcome the evil one.

Through this trip, God touched my heart and opened my eyes to see that Christ is the hope for the Cambodians. As I fast and seek before him, I find confirmation from Acts 26:17-18: “I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

I obeyed God’s leading and initiated two years of exploring God’s will for my long-term involvement in Cambodia. God willing, my goal is not only to bring the Khmer people to faith in Christ, but to disciple and mentor them so they can become mature in Christ and be able to train others also.

May God guide me and help me so that whatever I do will bring glory to his name.

—Sabrina Bach (This article first appeared in the MB Chinese Herald, January 2009).

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