Will God Forgive?

By Nathan Martin

From 1975-1979, an estimated 2 million people were killed in Cambodia under Pol Pot’s harsh Khmer Rouge regime. The scars from that time remain in the country today. Below is a story of a former soldier and his struggle to accept God’s grace and forgiveness.


One of our top priorities right now is to disciple the members of the small worship group that meets in the nearby village of Snuol Leitch. At times, it feels like the group is hanging by a thread, but we know behind the scenes it continues by the grace of God.

Daniel and I meet weekly with Sann, the man who leads the group, to reflect together on a Bible passage in preparation for Sunday. Recently, we read in Matthew 5 from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says not only those who kill, but also those who are angry and say evil things about others, are in danger of judgment.

In the first read through, Sann fell asleep while reading out loud. “It’s going to be a long afternoon,” I thought to myself. We read it again and Sann asked me to explain, saying “I don’t understand any of it.”

I did some basic teaching on Jesus not just looking at our outward actions, but also at our heart when it comes to judging sin. We talked more about sin and our resulting need for forgiveness through Jesus Christ. After reading the passage again, Sann asked, “Does Christ’s forgiveness cover sins you don’t know are sins?”

Good question. We talked more, affirming that, yes, Christ paid it all on cross. Then Sann asked, “What about soldiers who shoot and kill people? Will Christ forgive them?” At this point, I had no idea where Sann was going with this. Yes, Christ will surely forgive if they believe. Sann continued, “What if during Pol Pot somebody shot and killed several people …”

Daniel got it before I did. Sann wasn’t talking hypothetically; he was talking about himself. Sann then told us the story in detail, of him running and crying later, and of being afraid to talk to God about what he did, even though he has been a believer for several years now.

Reading the Bible with Sann the past couple of weeks has been a struggle. But it was an amazing blessing to see the Holy Spirit go far beyond anything I had planned and use this text to cut Sann to the heart and bring healing where there was doubt and pain. The good news is that yes, the cross is sufficient to pay it all. Yes, even murderers (in body, heart or tongue) can have all the dirt washed clean at the cross. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ!

We ended with Sann offering up this pain and doubt in his heart to Christ in prayer, then clapping his hands in joy at this new, deeper understanding of the radical goodness of his Savior.

Please join with us in praying for the Snuol Leitch worship group. There are currently four of them gathering. Pray for Sann to continue to grow in his knowledge of the love of God for us in Christ Jesus. Pray for God to give Sann a shepherd’s heart for his family and the little flock that meets in his home. Pray for the neighbors to see an ongoing transformation in Sann that would be a light to them as well. And lastly, pray for ongoing faith, despite the regular insults that come for being labeled a Christian in this area.

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