When children are sponsored, they not only receive an education but become part of a huge and loving community. Our global workers, who run sponsorship programs in 39 locations all over the world, know each sponsored child. They wrap their arms around families in need, making themselves available to pray and bring testimonies of God’s goodness wherever they go.
In Cambodia, global worker Tiffanie Rowley leads 13 ChildCARE Plus (CCP) sponsorship communities in seven different provinces. These communities deal with rural and urban poverty, and many of the families she works with do not have adequate health care. A single visit to the doctor can be unaffordable for families; often they do not receive the level of care they need.
Sowpeap, a 17-year-old sponsored child in Cambodia, was no exception.
Sowpeap became very ill and was diagnosed with leukemia at two different local hospitals. After a month of treatment, doctors told her family there was nothing more they could do. Sowpeap was sent home to die, which would create an enormous hole in this tight-knit community.
A week later, Sowpeap stopped eating and drinking. The family lost all hope. They wrapped their daughter in funeral garments and placed Buddhist blessings in her hands as the monks prayed for her to pass safely from this life into the next. Her friends from youth group were also in attendance as the funeral music played in Sowpeap’s home.
The ChildCARE Plus team and members of the church arrived at the funeral and began to pray alongside the Buddhist monks and the family. All night long, the team ministered to the family and spoke kind words to them. No one expected Sowpeap to live through the night.
Miraculously, the next morning, Sowpeap opened her eyes and asked for a drink of water.
Tiffanie called the international hospital, which treats her own family. After conversations with Sowpeap’s mother and father, the ChildCARE Plus staff, and the hospital, they agreed that an ambulance would pick up Sowpeap from the funeral and take her to the hospital. Family and friends who had come to mourn Sowpeap’s death were there to see the ambulance off.
In the emergency department, the doctors could find no signs of leukemia. Her body was badly inflamed and she had extreme infections in her heart and brain, but the doctors now knew what they were fighting. A new diagnosis was identified—lupus, a treatable illness. The doctors said that if Sowpeap overcame the infection, she could live a very normal and full life.
Sowpeap was admitted to the hospital and taken into the intensive care unit. Her mother and Tiffanie stayed with Sowpeap, visiting her each day. The day after Sowpeap arrived, Tiffanie ran into the hospital director and told him Sowpeap’s story. He agreed to work with the community regarding the cost of Sowpeap’s treatment. As Sowpeap’s mother could not work while she cared for her daughter, the family had been struggling day by day. Now the hospital was showing them incredible favour, even providing free food for the entire family.
Over the next couple of days, Sowpeap’s infection receded. She was able to lift her arms and legs and started exercising her body. The bleeding in her brain diminished and the infection in her heart cleared. After almost four days, Sowpeap was moved from the ICU to a regular room.
Her sister visited the hospital and held Sowpeap’s hand as she received intravenous medications. Less than a week before, these sisters had held hands as they said their goodbyes at Sowpeap’s funeral. Now they had hope that Sowpeap would survive.
After nine days in the hospital, Sowpeap was able to go home. Her family, some members of the church, and Tiffanie were trained concerning her care. They were told that the next six to nine months would be critical as her body normalized. Her medications would suppress her immune system, and it would be very important that Sowpeap stay healthy. When the doctors helped to rebuild Sowpeap’s immune system, the church and family would receive more training as the community pitched in to care for Sowpeap.
At home, Sowpeap has been gaining strength. Members from the church are checking in on her family every day and continuing to walk alongside the family.
This story is a testimony to the goodness and faithfulness of God. The love that Sowpeap’s family is receiving from the church has shown everyone in this Cambodian community the power of Christ to heal, save and transform.
Tiffanie knows that it is the children of Cambodia who will change the future of the country. She works with her team to empower every child in the programs. Community leaders have noticed the difference in ChildCARE Plus families as their lives are transformed by the message of the gospel and the power of Jesus Christ.
Tiffanie says, “These kids are growing up knowing the Lord and want their nation to be changed, not just for Him, but in the physical sense as well. They are not satisfied to have the Cambodia they grew up with be the Cambodia of tomorrow. They desire change. That is what’s going to happen.”
Today, you can bring a child like Sowpeap into a loving community through the gift of child sponsorship. Visit our website at https://www.erdo.ca/sponsor-now to find a child to support today.
If you would like help save a sponsored child who is facing a life-threatening illness, you can give toward our ChildCARE Plus emergency medical fund. This fund covers hospital expenses, surgeries, and visits to the doctor when families cannot afford medical care. Call ERDO today at 905-542-7400 to support a child like Sowpeap through the CCP medical fund.
Alicia Kolenda is the marketing and communications co-ordinator at ERDO (Emergency Relief and Development Overseas). She is passionate about seeing families released from poverty and set free by the love of Christ.
This article appeared in the July/August/September 2022 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. © 2022 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Photo © ERDO.