Sophea Sem from Cambodia visited Australia last month to share firsthand accounts of how shoe boxes from Australia and New Zealand are changing lives in his country.
Sophea, (pronounced ‘sopeeya’), is the Senior Pastor of the vibrant young New Life Christian Fellowship in Phnom Penh Thmey. He also heads up the National Leadership Team in Cambodia, a group of local pastors who organise the distribution of Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts.
Speaking to pastors and leaders, volunteers, churches and media in Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania, Sophea told of his experience at his first ever shoe box distribution…
“On this particular day the distribution was in Kompong Spue province. More than 100 children attended the distribution and I noticed they were all half naked. I was shocked to realise how much need there was.
“I noticed in the crowd one small boy, about 4 years old who was completely naked. I went over to him and asked him why he came there with no clothes on. He said he only had one set of clothes and his mother had washed them so they would be clean for him to wear to school the next day. My heart was very sad for this little boy who had to come to the distribution with no clothes on.
“When the shoe boxes were given out, the children were overjoyed to discover they had not just one gift, but a box filled with toys, clothes, shoes, school supplies and personal items like a toothbrush or hairbrush.
“What really touched my heart was when the little boy with no clothes on opened his box and inside was some underwear and a pair of shorts. He had come naked and he went home clothed. He was so happy! The Bible talks about this very thing in Matthew 25:36 saying, ‘I was naked and you clothed Me…”.
When I saw the little boy go home clothed just because some people in Australia and New Zealand used what they had to make a difference, tears fell from my eyes and I knew I was to be involved with Operation Christmas Child in Cambodia.
When I think how many hands touch a shoe box before it is put into the hands of a child I am amazed. I want to say a very big thank you to the people of Australia and New Zealand who pack shoe boxes and send them to the children of Cambodia.”