On the Frontlines Against Poverty: Meet Um Phor

Um Phor

Um Phor

When you join Food for the Hungry (FH) to end all forms of poverty, know that you are walking alongside an army of field staff who not only know their stuff but are impassioned by the transforming love of God.

They are on the frontlines of the fight against poverty.

They’re the ones who visit families and sponsored children, teaching them health lessons, livelihood security and best farming practices.

They’re the counselors to distraught families and victims of disasters. They’re the community peacemakers, Bible teachers, meeting facilitators, friends to all.

In my travels with FH, it is meeting the local staff that I get most excited about because of their devotion to God’s work. They serve as God’s catalysts for transformation in many communities.

They’re effective at what they do because they, too, have been transformed by Christ.

Such is the testimony of FH/Cambodia staff Um Phor. He has been serving with FH since 1997.

In 1972, his father was arrested by Pol Pot’s soldiers. Pol Pot was the leader of the Cambodian Communist Party whose reign of terror caused the deaths of nearly 2 million Cambodians through execution, torture, starvation and disease.

twoUm Phor had just completed a university degree in the capital city of Phnom Penh when his father was captured. He came home from being seriously sick – “just skin and bones,” he said. Pol Pot’s soldiers did not kill him, because they did not want to waste their bullets on someone they thought “would die in two days anyway.”

Um Phor recovered, physically, but remained spiritually broken. As a religious practice, he would make sacrifices and regular offerings of lotus flowers. He would also buy chains to wear around his waist for protection from evil spirits.

But the chains had power only for three months, after which Um Phor had to pay a magician to put more power into the chains. The chains were heavy, he said, and he had no hope.

But in 1993, Um Phor met a Burmese doctor who introduced him to the liberating love of God. Um Phor made the decision to follow Jesus. “No more chains; no more fears. I have been set free,” he said.

His family also came to know Christ because of his new life.

Around the world, in every community where FH serves, many local staff like Um Phor are making a positive impact on the poor because they are living testimonies to the power of God to change lives.

So, today, when you pray for FH, participate in any of its events and activities, or give a financial gift, you can be confident that God is at work in communities where FH serves. He’s using faithful people to transform lives and make things new.

Rez Gopez-Sindac is an Austin-based writer and editor covering faith, church management and global development.

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