Albert Cheng- Watermark News Part 2
Posted on: 08/05/2012
“I even had the opportunity to share the gospel with former Khmer Rouge soldiers. I was trembling. But, through God’s grace, the ‘new me’...wanted to share God’s love.” – Albert Cheng
When Albert Cheng arrived in the United States, he didn’t speak English. He had survived civil war and Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge genocide campaign that killed up to three million people. He had been beaten, starved and almost worked to death in a prison camp for four years. After a daring escape, he lived for two years in a refugee camp, wondering about the fate of his parents and nine brothers and sisters. A sponsorship by someone he never met allowed Albert to immigrate to the U.S. Alone in a strange country and haunted by nightmares of war, Albert wondered, “Where is God?”
During his first days in the refugee camp, Albert had seen a movie about the life of Christ, called “The Jesus Film.” “Although I couldn’t understand the language, I was overwhelmed by the sight and the story of Jesus. He was doing such kind and amazing things. I didn’t understand why they hung him on the tree.”
But as he struggled to make his way in the Dallas area, unfamiliar with the language and culture, Albert turned to his Buddhist roots and went to a temple in Grand Prairie. “I began to fast, meditate, and do all the things that I was supposed to do to reach ‘Nirvana,’ a state of all-knowing contentment.”
Albert tried hard to build a new life in the U.S., but not knowing the fate of his family and memories of the horrors he had witnessed led him to contemplate suicide. “Why live?” Albert asked. “I had no family, no hope for the future. I kept asking, ‘is Buddha God? Where is God?’”
The answer came when a woman at a church where Albert worked as a custodian, introduced him to God’s Word. Later, a new Cambodian friend gave him a Bible in his own language.
“God’s Word came alive to me, and I began to understand grace,” said Albert. “Sometimes, I would read the Bible all night long. My questions were answered in the Bible. Even after all of the oppression I had faced, God had been with me. I suddenly seemed to be at peace. Buddhists don’t usually sing, but one morning I was singing a song. I didn’t really know the words or the tune, but I was singing. A friend told me that the song was ‘Amazing Grace’. Right then I knew it was from the Lord Jesus Himself!”
Albert says that for a long time, he tried to get through life by his own flesh and power. “Now I’ve learned to totally trust and depend on Christ in every circumstance. I never could have healed on my own. I know that God is the living God, more powerful and merciful than I could have imagined.”
Albert says only God could have delivered him from war, trauma, thoughts of suicide and his old religion, and into a relationship with Christ through the Holy Spirit. “I don’t deserve this, but use me if you can,” he prayed.
Albert returned to Cambodia in 2005 to share the gospel. “God was moving ahead of us and people were responding to God’s call,” said Albert. “People who had once been abused by the government were now set free. There was rejoicing and singing as God’s Word was proclaimed from village to village. I even had the opportunity to share the gospel with former Khmer Rouge soldiers. I was trembling. But, through God’s grace, the ‘new me’ was compassionate and wanted to share God’s love.”
As Cambodia opened in 2007, Albert went back to search further for his family. He arrived at the old grass hut his family once shared and found it full of bones. The man outside the hut told Albert, “Your sister is in there.” As he looked closely at the man and focused on his eyes, Albert realized that it was his youngest brother! It was the first time they had seen each other in 35 years. His brother had become a doctor.
Albert has returned four times to Cambodia, where he and his brother set up free medical clinics and Albert preaches the gospel to those receiving care. One of Albert’s sisters also survived. “They have both become believers and are excited about spreading the Word of God to others. They understand the heart of Jesus. You can see it in their faces as they open their hearts. By God’s grace, they have trusted Christ and are living out their faith.”
In January of 2010, Albert came to Watermark. “I saw people praying in the parking lot,” said Albert. “People were praying all over, and I fell in love with this body of believers. People here weren’t wearing masks. They were down to earth.”
Today, Albert is married to his wife, Thavy, who he met on one of his discipleship trips, and they have a two-year-old son. The couple is part of a community group at Watermark, and Albert serves in the Frontlines ministry. Though Albert has seen wartime atrocities, received torture and beatings and been forced to work under conditions few could imagine, he says, “Christ is my hope. I trust in him completely.” – written by Riis Christensen
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