In 1985, I was ten years old. Children from Cambodia had arrived at my school in Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A. One of the boys knew a few words of English. By using pictures, he began to tell me horrible stories of torture and killings and of people who had to run away to save their lives. I cried at night when I thought of these children. I wanted to tell them about the Paradise and the resurrection, but they did not understand my language. Even though I was only a boy, I decided to learn Cambodian so that I could tell my schoolmates about Jehovah. I did not realize then how much this decision would affect my future.
Learning Cambodian was difficult. Twice I decided to give up, but Jehovah used my parents to encourage me. Later, my teachers and schoolmates started pressuring me to accept a well-paying job. But I wanted to pioneer, so I chose high school courses that would help me to find part-time work. After school, I would go preaching with some pioneers. I also volunteered to help students learn English. This decision helped me later on.
When I was 16, I heard about a Cambodian group in Long Beach, California, U.S.A. My parents allowed me to visit the group. These brothers and sisters taught me how to read Cambodian. As soon as I graduated from school, I became a pioneer. I preached to the Cambodian people near my home. By the time I was 18, I was thinking about moving to Cambodia. It was still a dangerous place, but there were ten million people living in Cambodia, most of whom had never heard the good news. At that time, there was only one congregation of 13 publishers in the whole country. When I was 19, I visited Cambodia for the first time. Two years later, I decided to move there. I found part-time work translating and teaching English. Later, I found a wife who had the same goals as I did. Together, we have enjoyed helping many Cambodian people become Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Jehovah has given me the desires of my heart. (Psalm 37:4) Preaching is the most satisfying thing a person can do. During the 16 years I have been in Cambodia, that little congregation of 13 publishers has grown to become 12 congregations and 4 groups!—As told by Jason Blackwell.