Special guest from Cambodia

Chomno In meets Doug Fletcher (manager of The Centre, Horsham) at Brighton Road Baptist Church, pictured alongside a wooden cross made by a student from the Safe Haven School in Poipet, part of a programme to rehabilitate trafficked children - submitted picture
Chomno In meets Doug Fletcher (manager of The Centre, Horsham) at Brighton Road Baptist Church, pictured alongside a wooden cross made by a student from the Safe Haven School in Poipet, part of a programme to rehabilitate trafficked children - submitted picture

Every now and then you meet someone who really inspires you, someone whose story touches your heart.

One person that has inspired members of Brighton Road Baptist Church in Horsham is Chomno In and last week he came to share his story with Horsham Christians.

Chomno is Cambodian and started the Cambodian Hope Organisation in 2002. As Christians they rescue and rehabilitate children and families living in desperate circumstances from the fallout of the terrors of the Khmer Rouge period.

Chomno’s own life reads like a history book of Cambodia. Under Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge as a teenager he saw the whole of his uncle’s family killed. He was separated from his parents and forced to carry out hard labour on a farm. In his own words, they were apart for ‘three years, eight months, 20 days – that’s one thing I’ll remember for ever’.

When Vietnamese forces invaded Cambodia, Chomno fled to a refugee camp, where he lived for seven years. There he trained as a medical assistant, became a Christian and learnt English.

He also met his wife and they lived in the camp until 1992, but even their wedding day was met by tragedy; as they married in their ordinary clothes the Vietnamese bombed the camp and the guests had to run away.

After the war they moved to the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, where Chomno qualified as a pharmacist. They returned to that refugee camp 10 years on and people still lived there. He returned home and sold everything he had - his flat - and moved to Poipet to live above the “shop” of the Cambodian Hope Organisation, which he founded to transform the lives of others.

You recognise in Chomno a visionary. He has large dreams, great abilities and a huge heart. He constantly asks for supporters to pray for him and the team.

He becomes excited when he tells you about children safe from abuse and having a better standard of living. “They go to school and they have big, healthy smiles. When you go to a village people there are praising the Lord.”

During last week’s visit Chomno visited several church projects across the Horsham district including Horsham Matters, Horsham Debt Advice, Oasis Pregnancy Centre, the Streetlight project concluding with a service on Sunday May 19 at BRBC.

Words by Graham Ward, Brighton Road Baptist Church

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