This orphan's story will inspire and provoke you

 Theara (right) and his younger brother Thearom (left)

Theara (right) and his younger brother Thearom (left)

Theara is a close friend of mine - though he calls me "father". And his life - his sheer perseverance - inspires me to be a better person.  

Theara has lived a bitterly hard life, especially after losing both parents by the age of 10.

One night, soon after the death of his parents, the tiny shack he lived in with his two siblings burnt down in a slum fire - deliberately set by government agents seeking to evict the community.

Theara and his siblings lost everything, including the only remaining photos and keepsakes of their parents. 

But soon after this photo was taken, we helped Theara move into a new community with a small Christian presence. Though it was a poor slum community, Theara was chosen as a "little brother" by a young Christian man who became his "Alongsider".

This faith community, by God's grace, has made all the difference in Theara's life. They prove that LOVE, not physical possessions is the most essential ingredient for a resilient life. 

Theara is now the Youth leader at his church, mentoring the 18 young people who are Alongsiders walking alongside 18 vulnerable children in that community.

Yesterday, Theara took another step in his amazing journey, and we were privileged to stand alongside him as "Parents of the Groom" as he married the love of his life, SreyTa - another Alongsider (and former "little sister").

 Theara (center holding flowers) on the wedding procession to offer gifts to the bride's family

Theara (center holding flowers) on the wedding procession to offer gifts to the bride's family

Theara's story is being repeated all over Asia and beyond, as vulnerable children, orphaned and left behind are being chosen as "little brothers and sisters".

 Theara

Theara

Research shows that the simple act of being loved faithfully, encouraged and mentored over many years, makes a huge difference in a child's life. For many it is the difference between resilience and brokenness.

Theara's life presents a simple but powerful and provocative challenge: if a young man, grown up in the slum, knowing nothing but hardship, could walk alongside another vulnerable human being - then perhaps I could too!

If Theara can do it, then why can't you and I? What's stopping us?

Check out www.alongsiders.org for more information about how this movement is transforming lives.