Forgiveness on the Killing Fields of Cambodia

The Huffington Post – As a boy of eleven, Sokreaksa Himm and his Cambodian family were forced-marched from their home in Siem Reap out into the rural area to work in farming. It was there that he watched as the villagers hacked to death his father and brothers and later his mother. Lying under dead bodies in the pit in which the killers had dumped their victims, he waited until they left to make his escape.

Himm was one of the lucky ones. “The killing fields” of Cambodia were as foreboding as “The ovens” of Auschwitz. In four years — 1975-1979 — as many as three million Cambodians were killed by the Khmer Rouge regime or died from starvation or disease. As a result, Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot is sometimes described as “the Hitler of Cambodia.”

After Himm escaped from his family’s killers, he was able to cross the border into Thailand and was eventually sent to Canada where he was cared for by World Vision (an international Christian relief organization) at one of their refugee centers. There, his young mind was not only plagued by the memory of his family now dead — with the exception of his sister — but feelings of revenge for those who had so devastated his family and his life. Those feelings began to change, however, after he enrolled at Providence University College near Winnipeg, Canada–a school that proclaims: We help you see your education through a Christian worldview.

“I could tell that something was wrong with me, and underneath thecambodia-map fa??ade I suddenly realized that I needed to forgive totally,” Himm recalls.??”Forgiveness is not easy, but if I allowed the big ball of fire to keep burning inside my heart, my life would not be worth living. . . When I could not forgive, I was actually burying myself into the grave of bitterness, anger and hatred.”

Determined, Himm returned to Cambodia and to the village of Kokpreach where he met with the man who killed his father and the one who killed his mother. He tied a Cambodian scarf around each of their necks as a symbol of forgiveness. Then he gave them a Cambodian Bible and read from Luke 23:34 — “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do…” — and in so doing, offered his forgiveness.

Himm has since found his sister and returned to his family home in Siem Reap where he’s determined to build a new and better life for himself and his fellow Cambodians.

Read the full story: A Face in Pol Pot’s Killing Fields.”

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