A little man with a big dream and even bigger God!

 It was September 29, 2007. John Balena and I, along with a few other friends, had just completed a mission trip to Cambodia. Seventeen years later I remember it well. John is a business leader with a big heart for unreached people. He lived in a city called Sugar Land, part of greater Houston. We were asked to visit a village somewhere on the Mekong/Irrawaddy River basin. The village was called Land of Sugar, part of greater Phnom Penh. Yes, there was a small church planted in the Land of Sugar as a result of the heart God gave a man from Sugar Land!

It was John’s idea to let the remainder of the team continue home to Houston. We would take a couple days for a side trip to Chaing Mai, Thailand. John had heard about a missionary there who was considered one of the most knowledgeable of “unreached people groups.” Unreached People Groups are those who live in difficult to reach places and many times dangerous places. These are just two of the reasons they have not been reached with the Good News of the love of Jesus. 

John was right about the knowledge of the man and had great meetings with him. But God also had a man for me to meet. I had never heard of him, but I have never forgotten him. His name is Sionh Khan. His people are the Khmu. With a heart for Jesus and for his people he described the vision God had given him. There were a few hundred Khmu in northern Thailand but there were tens of thousands inside Laos, just across a narrow, shallow river. Laos was totally closed to foreigners. But God can always make a way!

A Khum village

Sionh showing Jerry where we could build a church and use it for repeat medical clinics

Sionh had a cassette tape (what is a cassette tape?) ministry. He would record Bible messages, make multiple copies, and find someone, anyone to sneak them along with portable players into Laos. He was a little man with a great love for his people and a great dream of finding ways to introduce his people to Jesus.

Khmu could come to Thailand for one day for medical treatment or business or to see friends. Sionh believed we could mobilize a medical team, invite the Khmu to cross the river to get medical treatment and meet Sionh.  The clinic was arranged. I drove a five-passenger jeep to wait at the river. Early in the morning I could see them coming…men, women, children, some young and some old, some being caried by family and friends. They waded the river where some would later be baptized. They came for medical help but more to hear Sionh teach. I was the unpaid “uber” driver making multiple trips with 20+ passengers each time. A near-retirement Primary Care Physician, two nurses with their husbands, a retired police officer, a home remodeler, and an “uber” driver saw Khmu respond to the love of Jesus.

 IHS was later joined by “Circle of Love” a non-profit from Chicago. The founder was a trauma surgeon and had access to many medical resources. Circle of Love continues to work with Sionh. The Khmu People know Jesus. Sionh’s dream was fulfilled. God’s desire that all hear the Gospel was advanced. The last report was 40,000 believers among Laotian Khmu!

It was time for IHS to go where the Good News of Jesus had never been shared!

The church

Jerry telling the Khmu that God looked down through the ages and said “I love the Khmu”