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God’s Great Heart for Children

I was born into a Buddhist family. And to be born into a Buddhist family is to suffer abusive treatment, which is known as a disciplined life. This is a normal way of life. I know firsthand the experiences of a child growing up in a Southeast Asian country.

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I have often considered myself a Zacchaeus among other people as I have always been below average height. Growing up, I felt small and insignificant. I grew up in a very tiny village and often was neglected by my parents. My father was an alcoholic and my mom was always occupied taking care of her nine children. Whenever visitors came to our home, we were expected to leave and eat on the roadside. I felt totally abandoned. I was fearful to spend time at home, which meant most of my time was spent out on the streets. My parents never knew if I attended school or not. Even at the age of 10, I had to pick my dad up from the streets after he had been drinking.Buddhist

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At age 13, my friend invited me to a youth camp. It was there I accepted Jesus Christ. I immediately began witnessing to my friends and family. I brought more than thirty teenagers back to youth camp. I encouraged my father to drink at home where I could watch over him and talk with him about the Gospel. I began leading family devotions in my home every night. After three years of prayer for my family, my father and mother became Christians.

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Out of the 70 to 80 children I grew up with, I was the only one to graduate from high school and attend college. I chose to attend Bible College. After completing my degree, I taught for twelve years. In 2009, I attended the Global Congress Conference at OneHope. God began to stir in me a desire to work with the children of my country. I also attended a children’s conference in New York. A woman approached me and began to prophesy about the ministry I would begin with children in my country.

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As I arrived home, I realized my own story is intertwined with the children’s stories I encounter everyday in Southeast Asia. I decided to resign as head of the Bible College and being a senior pastor, and begin a children’s ministry. I started with no resources for the children. I had to write my own Bible lessons. Despite difficulties, I knew that God had called me to minister to the children of my country. God revealed to me my great desire to reach the next generation. In 2011, OneHope brought the 17 Stories curriculum as a resource for my ministry. I know God prepared OneHope to reach the children of Southeast Asia.

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I get the unique opportunity to see children’s lives changed by the Gospel everyday. *Victoria, one of the girls who attends our Bible clubs, walks two or three miles every day to do so. She knows the walk is worth her time because the Gospel transformed her own life. She received a new Bible story every week from the 17 Stories program. Her friends at school would eagerly wait to hear the new story she learned. Now that she has accepted Jesus, she tells her parents the same stories she learned. She hopes they will believe so the whole family can be in heaven one day. Victoria’s favorite story is Noah because she wants to see that story become real in her family too.

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Although Victoria is small, her reach is large. Her age doesn’t limit her influence. I want to see my nation rich with the Word of God and lives like Victoria’s transformed by the hope of Jesus. I desire to see the 20 million children of my nation reached with the truth of the Gospel. God values children and encourages believers to receive the kingdom of God like a child. I know He uses children to impact the world. In my country, oftentimes the worth of children is missed. God loves to use those whom society least expects. I know firsthand because God is able to use me, a Zacchaeus, to reach the children of my country. 

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*Note: Names changed in this testimony to protect the identity of the individuals involved.


Pastor Phirun

All stories by: Pastor Phirun