Phalla Chak grew up in one of Steve & Noit Hyde’s Imparting Smiles children’s centers located in the jungle of Cambodia in the providence of Kracheh where there is no electricity, running water or dreams of a better tomorrow. Phalla’s father died when she was young and because of extreme poverty, her mother was unable to care for her. This is a part of Cambodia where often children are sold to get enough money to feed other children in the family or even worse, left to die. It is a place where hope is not found and where despair and hopelessness are the norm. A team of evangelists visited this village and saw the desperate situation and shared that there was a place where children are cared for and have food to eat and access to education. Phalla’s mother brought 10 year old Phalla to the center and when young Phalla saw the playground she was instantly drawn to the center. What little Phalla could never know at this time was that Jesus was making a way. Jesus was making a way for this young girl to have a future and a hope.
Fast forward a decade and Phalla grew up in the children’s center with not just food, water, clothing and education, but more importantly she grew up with love. Steve and Noit love each of the children in the orphanages and consider them their own children. They know their stories, they listen to their fears and they speak hope and life into each of them. They teach that there is a God who loves them and has a good plan for their lives. This investment of truth in the lives of children who are often neglected, hungry, offered little love and no protection has been the spring board for radical change in many young lives.
Phalla worked hard in school and graduated from high school. Steve & Noit made it possible for Phalla to go to Indonesia to university where Phalla graduated in four years. That time in her life was not easy. Those of us who have traveled to Cambodia many times over the past 10 years became friends with Phalla on Facebook and often during those four years she would post about how sad and lonely she felt. School was difficult and she was so far away from everything she had ever known. But Phalla persevered. She believed the words that had been spoken over her. She believed that she had value and that Jesus had plans for her. She believed that there was hope for a bright future.
Phalla graduated from university in 2018 and moved to Phnom Penh where Steve & Noit helped her find a job teaching local children while the Antioch School was being built in Poipet. Upon completion of the Antioch School, Phalla moved to Poipet and became the first teacher at the school. The Antioch School offers excellent education taught by qualified teachers in a loving and caring environment. Students are taught in Khmer and English and additionally receive Christian education at the school.
Visiting the Antioch School has been a highlight of this trip. Walking into the classroom that we have been praying for and seeing it filled with children smiling and learning with teachers who were raised in the children’s’ centers is an experience I will never forget. Phalla teaches English to junior high and high school aged students and we had the privilege to join the class while we were in Poipet. Hearing the kids that we have never been able to speak to without interpreters, talk to us in English and beam with pride over their accomplishments was nothing short of remarkable. Seeing Phalla dressed as a professional and leading her classroom in English lessons was evidence of a good God, faithful missionaries and a life that has a hope and a future.