Rev. Dr. Sahara Chea is the first Cambodian Ordained Minister in the Presbyterian Church USA. He is a former refugee, surviving a youth labor camp, and the atrocity and genocide of the Killing Fields of Cambodia. He came to the U.S. without any formal education, graduated from high school as Valedictorian, and went on to receive a Master of Divinity. In 2006, Dr. Chea received his Doctor of Ministry with research studies on Pastoral Care in the Cambodian Community. He is the founder of the National Cambodian Presbyterian Council, currently serving as general secretary and Vice-Chair of the Southeast Asian Advisory Committee for the National Office of the General Assembly. He completed a month-long research study on Khmer History in 2011. He is pastor of the First Cambodian Presbyterian Ministry and leads a prayer service for healing and forgiveness at the Salishan Garden Community Center every Sunday at 4401 E. R St. in Tacoma. What gives people hope to continue living after their lives have been destroyed by a murderous regime? It was 30 years ago that a high percentage of Cambodia’s population was either driven out or killed by the bloody Khmer Rouge who ruled Cambodia from 1975-79. Still today, many are struggling emotionally in the United States.
According to the Rev. Dr. Sahara Chea, Director of Outreach Ministries of the Presbyterian Church (USA), “They (Cambodians) need deep healing, reconciliation and forgiveness in order for them to move on with their lives.” Of all the places where Presbyterians are working in Cambodian communities in the U.S., there is one outreach ministry that had its beginning three years ago. The Olympia Presbytery has validated this ministry along with the National Cambodian Council of the Southeast Asian Advisory Committee and the National Asian Presbyterian Ministry. Rev. Chea organized the first Cambodian Presbyterian ministry in Tacoma, Washington. The main challenge for this work is financial and spiritual support..