As a young member of the communist party, Barnabas Mam was tasked with spying on a local Christian group. His job was to determine the leaders so they could be arrested. Instead, Barnabas heard the Gospel and converted to Christianity. However, his conversion happened at the same time Pol Pot began wreaking havoc in Cambodia. Pol Pot’s regime ushered in a period that became known as the Killing Fields. Barnabas was one of only 200 Christians to survive this dangerous time in Cambodia’s history.
As soon as I read the description of this book, I knew I wanted to read it. I remember a girl I knew in high school whose family escaped from Cambodia and came to America. I couldn’t believe some of the stories she told me and I had the same surreal feeling reading Mam’s book. It seems miraculous that any Cambodians survived that dangerous time in their history.
Throughout his imprisonment and life in various refugee camps, Mam’s faith remained steadfast. Most of his family was killed, his father, sisters, and brothers, and he was separated numerous times from his wife and children, but his faith remained steadfast. Not only did he not give in to discouragement or grief, but he developed his musical skills and teaching skills so he could teach others about God. That is what I took away from this book – Mam kept getting knocked down, but never gave up. He not only refused to give up, but he worked to rebuild his country, depending upon God’s will to lead him.
This is such an inspiring story and a first-hand account of a significant period in history, that everyone should read it. I can’t recommend it highly enough. This book is not a quick read; it took me several days to read it all, but it was worth it. Part of the reason why it was a slow read was because there were a lot of people that came in and out of Mam’s life. This isn’t a criticism, it was just hard to keep track of the different people.
If you like to read non-fiction, encouraging books, this one is for you.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.