Chanleakena Ping, Education and Psychology Major
My name is Chanleakena Ping. I come from Cambodia. When I was young, my father bought a piece of land from a villager. While we were looking at the land, the neighbors came over and told us that the Ant Hill on the land was the spirit’s house, and if anyone dared to touch it, the spirits would get angry and take away some of their family members’ lives as a warning. My father wasn’t worried; he believed his gods would take care of him.
It was not long before a tragedy happened in our family. My four year old sister suddenly developed a fever and headache. Although my parents took her to several doctors and gave her medications, she became worse. In desperation, my father decided to invite mediums to our house. One medium told us that a female giant wanted to eat my sister because my dad was stubborn and destroyed her house. The female giant talked to us through the medium. Many mediums came to our house, but it was worthless. We did all that we were supposed to do, but when all of our money was gone, my sister left us. I can still remember the blood coming from her mouth. I cried when I saw them put my sister in the coffin and take her away.
After the loss of my precious sister, my family lived in fear of the spirits, and since I was the youngest in the family, I was the next target. One evening, I opened my eyes from a wonderful dream. I saw many people surrounding me, and I wondered what was going on. They told me that while I was walking to my elder sister’s house, I had fallen to the ground and lain unconscious from morning until evening. My dad usually listened to a Christian radio station every day, and although he had no idea who Jesus was, he prayed, “If you are the true God, please help my daughter.” He got some charcoal from the kitchen and drew the shape of a cross on my forehead. That is when I finally opened my eyes.
My dad was eager to know more about Jesus, and was excited when a layman preacher came to our village. He decided to go to church, and I went to church with him. One of the first songs I learned was “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.”
My mom, however, refused to come to church. One night she dreamed that a man was telling her that he was coming to help her family. She noticed that the man’s feet were not touching the ground. She almost forgot her dream, until one day my dad brought a flyer home with a picture of Jesus on it. The picture of Jesus on the flyer was the same man that my mom had seen in her dream. She wanted to know more about that man, and so we went to church together the next Sabbath.
After we submitted ourselves to God, our family found peace and joy. We were never scared of the spirits anymore. My parents don’t worry about losing our family members once again because we know that Jesus protects us. I am thankful to God for bringing hope to my family after the tragedy. We know we will see my sister again in heaven. I have decided to follow Jesus. I will never turn back.
Thipachan Boualaphet (King,) English Major
I was born in a strict Buddhist family where good and bad actions were counted either as sins or merits. My mother was the spiritual leader in the house. She would tell us to always be careful of our actions, and she didn’t tolerate our misbehaviors. She would punish us with scary stories about the eternal suffering in purgatory after our death. I started to believe those stories and be very fearful to express myself, even among my close relatives. This happened for eighteen years, until I was converted into a Seventh-day Adventist Christian.
I always believe that I was chosen to be a Christ follower, because in Laos there are only a small number of Christians, and yet I accepted and learned the Bible very quickly. However, becoming a Christian caused me many troubles, especially with my family. I was despised among my relatives because of my faith. My mother would force me to go to the temple with her on the Sabbath. I often gave excuses and left the house early in the morning to go to church.
Despite the challenges I had with my family, I found joy in becoming a Christian. I was not baptized as a church member yet because of my family’s disapproval, but God was very good to me along the rough journey of developing my faith. Although my relatives didn’t like the fact that I went to the church, I still witnessed God’s love to them. Even in difficult moments, God revealed Himself to me by giving me many dreams and visions. At times I was troubled by the evil spirits, and through these experiences God revealed Himself and gave me assurance that He has power over evil spirits.
The incident that blessed me most was when I could share God’s love with my grandmother before she died. My grandmother had cancer for more than five years. The cancer cells had spread everywhere in her body, and her brain had also become infected. In December 2010, she suffered a severe seizure, and after that she could no longer walk or talk.
In February 2011, three weeks before my baptism, the Holy Spirit moved me to visit my grandmother. So, one Sabbath evening, I went there alone with my Lao Bible. I knew that it was a risk for me to share Bible stories in my grandparent’s house because Laos is a communist democratic country, and the Lao leaders do not encourage any other religion to be preached besides Buddhism. Furthermore, I knew that my grandparents worshipped the demon spirits in their house.
I sat there with my grandmother and looked at her with compassion. I was not close to my grandmother, but I felt sad for her because I knew that she would soon be put to sleep on this earth. I took her by her hands and gave her a soft massage. It woke her up. I prayed to the top of my head that I would be brave and strong enough to heal her. I sat beside her bed for almost an hour, and then the Holy Spirit moved me to open my Bible to read. I didn’t know much about the Bible because I was still learning, but my fingers landed on the story of Jesus healing the lady who was bleeding for twelve years. I had been learning about how Christ healed people in the gospel books, but I didn’t fully understand God’s healing power, and I didn’t understand why I was reading this story.
As I read, my grandmother started to cry out and moan loudly. I had to put the Bible away because my aunt came in to see what was happening. I put my hand on my grandmother’s shoulder and prayed for her to rebuke the evil spirits. At that very moment, I saw the devil in the form of a giant man standing in front of her bed. It was looking down at her and longing for her to die. I kept on praying for God’s strength to rebuke the evil spirit, and then suddenly came another vision. I saw the three angels of the Lord with trumpets in their hands, flying above us. I praised the Lord because I knew He was with us! I kept telling my grandmother that God loved her, and she finally stopped crying. I didn’t know what had gone though her mind, or whether she accepted Jesus or not, but I found joy for myself. Although my grandmother died four weeks later, I have a reason to be joyful because one soul knew Christ at the last hour of her life.
Today, I have made peace with my family and they have started seeing Christ in me because I became changed. God changed me to be a person I never thought I would be. I became a better child to my parents and citizen to my hometown. It happened not because I deserved to be praised or looked up to, but so that God would be known and praised among these people around me.
Cassandra Morgan, Applied Theology
I would say the typical ideal for young girls in America is to grow up, work for a good company, get married and raise a family in a cookie-cutter, American suburb. But that has never been my ideal. As far back as I can remember I have wanted to travel and live in far-off places. Asia has always been a particular interest of mine as I admire their societal and cultural values for the family and kindness in all aspects of life. When I started college I took as many classes about Asia as my city college offered.
Thailand is on the complete opposite side of the globe from the States. One can’t go much further than that! Thai people are tremendously warm and loving. You walk into a room and you’re already part of their family, it’s fantastic! The only “real” exposure to Thailand I had growing up was watching the 1956 musical The King and I at my grandmother’s house when I was little and Anna and the King (1999) later on in high school. Those are far from accurate representations of the culture, country and people of Thailand but they were what I had.
God placed a burden in my heart to come Thailand in 2012. It was the only place I felt impressed to come when I did my term as a student missionary from La Sierra University in 2012-2013. It may sound cliché but I fell in love with Isaan people (from the region of Northeastern Thailand) and the country itself. When I left Thailand my heart broke more than it had at leaving my family and friends in the States to come to Thailand. My heart was homesick for Thailand upon arrival in California and I prayed constantly to come back to the Land of Smiles. God opened the door for me to return after some time growing in my relationship with Christ at ARISE and working as a Bible worker for my church in the Central California Conference.
I feel so blessed and grateful that God opened the doors for me to study here at AIU. All costs for tuition and fees are a fraction of universities in the US. Even with it being a much more affordable education, financially my family can’t afford to fully support me. God taught me an important lesson about my pride my first semester, when I didn’t have enough funds to pay. He performs a miracle to cover my tuition each semester. For that and many other reasons, there is no doubt in my mind that Asia-Pacific is exactly where God wants me to be right now.
The professors, faculty and staff members here are absolutely incredible! They truly care for each student and take the time to pray for us and talk if we need help in a subject or just with life in general. My advisor and his wife, in particular, are amazing! I really feel like they adopted me. Being so far away from my parents, it’s really nice to be welcomed home when I go to their house for family group or any other reason and be cared for as their daughter. When I get homesick or have a bout of culture shock, they’re always there for me, to listen and to talk.
AIU is beautiful, fun and full of growth opportunities. Every day I feel blessed that God brought me here. Back in the States you can be exposed to other cultures but it doesn’t compare to the interactions and immersion you get at AIU. Along with Biblical languages I’m learning Thai and Bahasa from my friends, it’s an experience you can’t get back in States.
Channrith Boeurn, MBA
I am Channrith Boeurn, and my nickname is Jan. My nationality is Cambodian. I am a student at Asia-Pacific International University, majoring in Business Administration.
I completed a bachelor’s degree in marketing in Cambodia and worked there for the next four years. In early 2014, I decided to study abroad in order to open up more business opportunities. I researched online about international universities, and immediately I found “Asia -Pacific International University.”
On the way to the campus, I had only one hundred baht in my pocket. I needed one hundred fifty baht for a taxi, so a young girl helped me by paying fifty baht to the taxi driver. This was only the beginning of underestimating my finances to study abroad, and my savings were not enough to cover my room and board and tuition fees for my ESL classes and master’s degree studies for two years. Although I still don’t have enough money for my tuition fees, God is guiding me. Because of my background in marketing, I found a job in the university’s marketing department. I also needed money for daily expenses, and God gave me a way by introducing me to teachers who hired me.
My life experience here has changed my thoughts and actions compared to my past life and I know I will continue to change in the future because of God’s leading. While studying the Bible with my teachers and pastors at Asia-Pacific, I realized that a major feature of Christianity was Jesus and God, and I started praying. Now I have changed my religion to believing in Jesus. Changing from Buddhism was very hard for me because it is a different mindset than Christianity. All of my family is still Buddhist. But I always pray to God to help my family accept me and learn to walk in the words of Jesus, who is teaching me to be patient, humble, holy, honorable, easy going, spiritual, and faithful to Him.