We were doing our weekly shopping at the nearby grocery store, and, as always, people were admiring our children. Usually, I have Judson in my cart, and Linda has Elisabeth; and there is never a dull moment shopping with these two characters. Linda was just a few yards away from me at the end of the aisle, and I heard and saw one of the security guards say the word, "Sa-aht!" pointing at Elisabeth. That is the Khmer word for "beautiful." I had seen that security guard dozens of times, and I always assumed he was Thai. I quickly pushed the shopping cart to where Linda, Elisabeth, and the security guard were standing, and asked him in English, "Did you just say, 'Sa-aht?'" The only word he understood out of that sentence was the word "sa-aht." I then blurted out in Khmer, "Do you speak Khmer?" He literally just looked at me and started laughing. I asked again, "Do you speak Khmer?" After laughing in disbelief for a few more seconds, he finally answered, "Yes!" When I asked him where he was from, I was shocked when he said, "Phnom Penh." And just like that, an opportunity to give the Gospel to this young Cambodian man named Tew-un was placed in my hands. But because I had no Khmer tracts with me at the time, and because he was on the clock, it would be a couple of days before I could act on that opportunity.
Praise God, I had packed a few Khmer materials to read while in Bangkok- a handful of tracts and a devotional book. A couple of days after we initially met Tew-un, we found ourselves back at the grocery store to purchase some things we had forgotten. I greeted him, shared a little small talk with him, and then handed him the Gospel tract entitled, "He Died for Us All." He gladly received, as most Cambodians do; but I had no idea if his seeming appreciation for it was actually just politeness.
Several days after handing him the tract, Linda had a wonderful idea. "Why don't we find out what time he takes his lunch break and take him out for a bite to eat!" Yesterday we were back at the grocery store, and I found out that he takes his lunch break every day at three o'clock. When I invited him to eat with us, he acted very awkwardly, but agreed to meet with us the following day- today. So, about eight hours ago we met him in front of the grocery store, and took him to a place that is very near and dear to our stomachs- McDonald's.
It was a very revealing conversation. I found out that Tew-un is twenty-three years old, and that he has lived in Thailand, alone, for a little over a year. It appears that he has been ostracized from his family. After finding out that he has five siblings and that his mother lives in Cambodia near the Thai border, I asked him if he misses his friends and family. His response was so sad. "I don't have any family. I'm alone." He didn't say it to gain my sympathy. He said it so matter-of-factly that I was quite disturbed.
But after learning more about him, he said something that I have heard precious few Cambodians say to me. "I read that paper you gave to me. I've read it a couple of times. Do you have any more of those books?" I couldn't help but smile. "Yes, actually, I do." It turns out that Tew-un attended some sort of church from the age of ten until he left home. Because of time restraints and two hyperactive children, I was not able to learn if he indeed is a Christian. But I know that he is a lonely young man in a country that is not his own; and I believe God sent us to him to either lead him to Christ for salvation, or lead him back to Christ for restoration.
He helped us call a taxi before he went back to work. As he was holding the door for us to climb into the taxi, he said, "Don't forget that book you told me about."