A high point of Pastor Ken’s recent trip to Cambodia was hearing the life stories of our Cambodian ministry partners. One of these was the story of Daroth, the National Director of Alongsiders. Be inspired by the words Ken shared about Daroth at Tenth’s Christmas Eve service.
Daroth was born into a very, very poor family - so poor that other children wouldn’t play with him.
Daroth came into a relationship with God through the ministry of a local church in Cambodia. One day, his pastor mentioned that there was a very poor family in the village led by a single father with just one leg.
Because of his disability, the father could not work. His wife, the mother of their 8-year-old son, became tired of being the breadwinner – and fled the family.
Soon after, the eight-year-old boy grew gravely ill with a fever. Sadly, they could not afford to go to the hospital and get care, so the father simply laid with him and held him waiting for him to die. It was then that Daroth’s pastor decided to visit the family, inviting Daroth to tag along.
During the visit, the pastor gave the father some money, and with it, the boy was able to get medical care at the hospital. His life was spared.
Daroth shared that when he saw how poor the family was, and heard how this boy had been shunned by other kids in his neighborhood because of his family’s poverty, he was reminded of his own poverty growing up.
For the first time, Daroth was thankful for his own impoverished upbringing because he could empathize with the boy.
Daroth told me that he would like to become this boy’s “older brother.” But being somewhat shy himself, Daroth prayed and waited a month for God’s direction, while continuing to visit him. After he felt at peace to walk alongside the young boy, he went to the boy’s father to ask for permission to be his son’s “older brother.”. The father responded with tears of joy, and in disbelief, he said, “I want my son to become like you.”
From that point on, Daroth became an “older brother” to him….
Among a number of other experiences they’ve had together, Daroth took his “younger brother” to the ocean for an Alongsiders retreat. It was first time anyone in the boy’s family had experienced the ocean.
Today, the boy is growing up and doing well in school and hoping to go to college. He will be the first in his family to do so.
Scripture tells us in 2 Corinthians 9 that on that very first Christmas, the God who is rich beyond our imagining, voluntarily became poor. He chose to be born as a human being, not in a palace, nor even in the ancient equivalent of a private hospital, but in a tiny poor village, in a cave with cattle and sheep. The first bed in which he was laid was a cattle feeding trough - a manger.
Like Daroth, whose own poverty allowed him to identify with and come alongside his “younger brother,” God came to experience humanity by being born as Jesus, allowing Him to empathize with us, and walk alongside us.
No matter what we face: whether it’s an economic challenge, something like emotional loneliness, or physical pain, God became poor, so that we can become rich in all the ways that matter. Rich in joy, rich in meaning, rich in eternal life – meaning God’s life now and in the world to come. Jesus is also called Emmanuel; God with us.
So, during Christmas, we have reason to celebrate. God became one of us, a being who can identify with us, and come alongside. We are not alone: God is with us.
If you would like God to come alongside you and make you like him, pray the prayer of the famous Christmas Carol:
O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!”
Learn more about the team that Ken travelled with to Cambodia in November 2022.
Tenth has walked alongside Alongsiders for 15 years. Learn more.