Sopheak Lim is a quiet 19-year-old on the outside. But after a few minutes of listening to her speak, you sense the strong determination she has in her heart to serve God and create a brighter future.
After losing her father to tuberculosis when she was five, she also lost her mother and step-father to HIV four years later. She spent several years being shuffled between other family members in Thailand and Cambodia, and eventually wound up living with her uncle and aunt in Battambang, Cambodia in 2016.
Sopheak is a member of CGI’s current culinary class at the Green Mango Café and Bakery in Battambang. As part of the Culinary Training Center (CTC), Sopheak and seven other girls are learning to cook and bake, as well as how to run a restaurant. Sopheak’s favorite part of the program so far is learning to be a barista. She enjoys making coffee, espresso and especially smoothies. She really enjoys making (and drinking) avocado smoothies.
But more importantly than using the right ingredients in a smoothie, Sopheak and the students are learning about Jesus and His love.
Sopheak had a little knowledge of Jesus before joining the CTC program. But since joining more than a year ago, she has seen first-hand the power of His love. Lim’s younger sister, Vichaka, was part of the CTC program two years ago, and when Vichaka became ill, she needed hospital care. CGI helped take care of her medical needs.
“I really didn’t know much about God and how He works in the world,” explained Sopheak. “But I saw how CGI loved Vichaka and helped take care of her, and I realized this is how loving people live in the world.”
When Sopheak is asked about her favorite Bible story, she quickly points to Mark 2:1-5. With many people crowding around the house where Jesus was preaching, four men lowered a paralyzed man through the roof, so he could be healed by Jesus. Sopheak said she sees herself in the story as the man on the mat, but after he has been healed.
“I now know that I’m a daughter of God,” she explained. “I’ve been healed by Jesus, so I’m better than before.”
Sopheak and her fellow CTC students graduated May 24, 2019 and Sopheak dreams of one day partnering with her sister to open a western-style restaurant in Battambang.
“I want to thank CGI and everyone who has supported us and has helped teach us to cook, and about Jesus’ love,” Sopheak said. “Thanks for making this possible.”
And once she opens her restaurant, be sure to stop in for a smoothie. They will certainly be on the menu!
Help more young women, like Sopheak, have the opportunity to study at the Culinary Training Center.
Written By: Charlie McAtee
Charlie McAtee is a member of CGI’s Board of Directors. He is a professional communications and public relations expert and is the owner of Charlie McAtee Communications. He lives in New Palestine, Ind. with his wife (Dawn) of nearly 20 years, their two youngest children (Andrew and Audrey), and their dog (Dixie) and cat (Freedom).