Live or Die for the Lord

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Hek was a member of our congregation many years ago. He was one of the pioneers of the Pnong tribe who joined the Adventist ranks in Cambodian villages.
A man with a good heart, Hek opened the doors of his home so that his family accepted Jesus as Savior, too.

Hek also had debilitating diabetes. Because of his condition, we suspended his baptism for many years until his health stabilized and he could seal his pact with God through baptism.

His diabetes continued to cause pain, gradually making it more difficult for him to work or walk. Our team spent much time praying for Hek. We traveled for hours to see different doctors, but we couldn’t help reverse or stop this disease.

Knowing his condition, one Sabbath, our Pucharee group decided to go to his home to pray for him and have a Bible study. We did not know that God had prepared that special moment for Hek since he would rest in the Lord a few hours later.

In the last moments of Hek’s life, he heard the prayers of his brothers- and sisters-in-faith and the study of the Word of God.
Following Hek’s desire, we held a Christian funeral for him, something you don’t see much around here. We praise God that most of the non-Christians respected and accepted the ceremony. Still, we had to be very careful during the funeral because if you lose sight of what is happening within the surroundings, the Pnong non-believers can immediately start sacrificing to the spirits, as we have experienced before. They kill cows, chickens, dogs, pigs or other animals and offer their blood to satisfy the wrath of the spirits. Some people wanted to light incense. Others wanted to put something to eat inside the coffin so that “he is not hungry.” Still others wanted to make a small hole in the ground after the body was buried so that he “could breathe better.” But with some of our local brothers’ explanations, our new friends understood that we saw death differently.

Despite having been a sorrowful moment for everyone, at the same time, it was awe-inspiring. While gathering to honor Uncle Hek, more than 100 people from a tribe that has not been fully reached listened carefully to biblical teachings, including the great hope of our resurrection through Jesus. What a beautiful way to fulfill Paul’s testimony regarding a life lived for God, “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (Romans 14:8).

In life, Uncle Hek couldn’t walk to the homes of others to preach about Jesus. There were even times when his pain prevented his mind from focusing on his Bible studies. Through his death, God achieved what we could not do in our human strength. Uncle Hek does not know it, but one day he will see others in the kingdom who are there because of the great testimony of how he lived through the love of Jesus.

May we have God so close to us that even after we die, the lives that we lived will continue testifying to others of God’s blessings and our hope.