Joy for Mourning

Written by Mollie & Steve Brown

Pheakdei* is a young man who we first met more than 10 years ago, when we was 7-8 years old. He was on the streets begging with his elderly mum. Even though his life was difficult, he always had the biggest, brightest smile on his face. We would often stop and pray for him and his mum and help whenever we could. Our team worked with them for many years, loving and sharing Jesus with them continuously.
A few years ago Pheakdei’s mother passed away and shortly after we lost track of him. Fast forward to Christmas this year, we didn’t recognize him at first. We saw a young 18 year old male approach our Christmas program barely able to walk with white fungus covering his hands and feet; he was in so much pain! We prayed for him and got him some anti-fungal cream and a few weeks later we met him again and his skin was fully healed. That’s when we began to recognize that it was the same boy we used to pray for all those years ago but he was extremely thin and frail and he seemed truly hopeless.
We visited his house which was basically a toilet stall with a lock on the outside in a pretty rough neighborhood. He opened up to us, that after his mum had died he was taken to a kids home where he was badly abused. He then ended up in a hospital where he was locked up. He thought he was going to die but somehow managed to get out.
We felt that meeting Pheakdei again after these years away from us was no accident and our team took every opportunity to love and be intentional in helping him. We took him to the hospital and after various tests found out he has both HIV and TB and could have died if our team had not intervened! We have been taking him to appointments regularly and getting him on the correct treatments and he is doing so much better, he is putting on weight and looks strong and healthy again. He now knows that Jesus loves Him and cares about him and it is beautiful to see the big smile that we knew so well over ten years ago return back to his face. Every time we are out on the riverside outreach he is there with us, helping with our kids program and he really feels like a part of our team! We believe God has amazing plans for Pheakdei and we feel privileged to get to be part of his journey!

*Name changed