Dust clouded behind the car as Les took in the Cambodian countryside from the passenger seat. As they bumped along, Radha felt Samen reach over and grip his hand hard. For Samen, sharing the stories of their past was like digging up a box that had been buried under cement. But Les believed writing this book was important, and Radha knew he was right.
As Radha’s brother, Ravy, shifted the car into park and turned off the engine, they all stared out the car window at what once served as a youth work site and also the place where Radha and Samen had been forced to marry as strangers. As they began to lead Les around the grounds, they came to a familiar concrete slab. Radha took Samen’s hand and led her to stand in the place they had been married 36 years earlier. Standing side by side on this stark concrete slab, its tin roof now gone leaving it bare, Les snapped their picture.
A Story Worth Writing
Radha Manickam is passionate about his faith and his ministry with Missions Door in Cambodia. Giving leadership to Cambodian Ministries for Christ, Radha equips pastors and leaders all over Cambodia, empowering them to start new ministries and develop creative ways to share the Gospel as Cambodian law forbids publicly proclaiming the Gospel. But the journey leading Radha to ministry was filled with nothing less than God’s mercy and grace. And it was a story Les Sillars wanted to tell.
Living in Cambodia in 1975, Radha found himself fighting to survive in the midst of mass genocide. He watched family members die, was forced into rural labor, spent four years sleep deprived and malnourished, and was forced into marriage. He experienced the unimaginable but through it all trusted God. “God is a God we can trust, depend on and lean on. And He never changes!” said Radha. In recent years, Radha wanted to share his story in a book, but struggled to put words to paper. He wrestled for 10 years trying to write his story. Then one day, Radha received a call. David Aikman, a former writer at Time magazine and professor at Patrick Henry College, had been searching for survivors from “the killing fields” in Cambodia and his trail led him to Radha.
David was amazed by his story and knew it needed to be told. David reached out to his colleague, Les Sillars. Les wasn’t so sure about the idea of writing Radha’s story. He was indeed a writer, but he knew nothing about Cambodia. But after a year of interviewing him twice a week, every week for several hours, and traveling to Cambodia to see firsthand the places from Radha’s past, he knew writing this book was important.
Shining Light in the Darkness
After tireless work, Les Sillars’ book, Intended for Evil: A Survivor’s Story of Love, Faith and Courage in the Cambodian Killing Fields, was published in 2016. For Radha, the book title couldn’t be more appropriate because it’s meaning rings so true to his story. In Genesis, Joseph shared with his brothers who had sold him into slavery:
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20
Radha, like Joseph of old, personally experienced that God is able to take even the most evil of human behaviors and transform them for His good purposes.
The process of compiling the book was not easy. “Visiting those places with Les unlocked things that I had locked away,” recalled Radha, as he remembered taking Les around Cambodia back in December of 2014 to retrace his steps of nearly 40 years ago. Reliving the horrors of the past was extremely difficult, but God has the power to take even the most unthinkable circumstances, things intended for evil, and use them for His glory.
Radha is excited to share this book. It’s not an avenue of income; in fact, Radha receives no profit from the sales. All he wants is to tell his story for anyone who needs God, to shine hope for those who need hope, and share a testimony of God’s incredible faithfulness.
In the same way God has never forsaken Radha, his hope for readers is simple…
“I want people to know they are not alone because our God never changes and we can depend on Him at all times.”
Les Sillars’ book about Radha Manickam, Intended for Evil: A Survivor’s Story of Love, Faith, and Courage in the Cambodian Killing Fields, is available at:
- Barnes & Noble
If you would like to interact with Radha about his story or his ministry, please CLICK HERE to send him an email. You may also want to partner with Radha and his ministry as he continues to share the love of Christ among Cambodians in the U.S. and in Cambodia.