In 1995, Samdy Leang decided to move to the capital city, Phnom Penh, in search of a better education and a brighter future. Struggling to finance his own study, he had to find a part-time job and ended up doing sweatshop work in a motorcycle-warehouse. Like many other Cambodian young men at the time he believed that knowing a foreign language, especially English, could help him to get a good job. Because he could not afford school fees he had to look for free-of-charge English classes. A year after his arriving in Phnom Penh, he found a Christian non-profit adult education school run by New Life Fellowship and he attended their free English, office skills and administration courses.
In 1998, he accepted an invitation to attend a Bible Study. His main reason for going along was to find out what Christians believed, prove them wrong, and guide his compatriots back to their traditional faith. He wanted very much to prevent Cambodians from embracing Christianity which he considered to be a foreign religion. After taking part in a Bible Study for over a year, the truth of the word of God softened his heart. Eventually, Samdy gave his life to the Lord. Right from the start of his Christian life he faced persecution for his faith from parents and friends. However, he persevered, and later on was taken on as staff in the church.
Mr. Samdy Leang and Navy Ouk were married in 2005. A year later, they both were asked to join the senior leadership team with responsibility for overseeing church growth and the spiritual health of New Life Fellowship of churches across the country. Pastor Samdy was also put in charge of New Life’s administration, human resources, and finance department, which has played a crucial role in the growth of the church. While serving as one of the pastors in the Senior Leadership Team, Pastor Samdy was involved in preaching and teaching in the church. He had some opportunities to travel overseas to gain insights as to how other successful churches functioned. This allowed him to see the bigger picture and helped him to be ready for the next calling that God had on his life. In 2016, after he had trained his assistant to take over his work, Pastor Samdy was made an executive pastor in the church. Early in 2019, the Senior Leadership Team asked Pastor Samdy to be an interim Senior Pastor in New Life Fellowship of churches.
Mara was born in 1973 during the time America was bombing in Cambodia. His province, including his village, was one of the most bombed areas, but God protected Mara and his family. Following the bombing, he experienced the Khmer Rouge Regime of Terror from 1975-1979. This regime caused many people to die of starvation, exhaustion, disease, or murder by the Pol Pot regime. Twenty-one of Mara's relative were killed during this regime. But amazingly the Khmer Rouge people really liked Mara a lot and would actually give him food any time he asked them for it. Mara believes this was God's favor and protection on his life even though he didn't know God yet. In 1980 the government of Cambodia started to set up schools again and Mara joined school at the first grade, one year after freedom from Khmer Rouge. He later graduated from high school and moved to Phnom Penh to study at the Royal University.
During that time he was involved in politics, and worked as a journalist for a local newspaper. Later his friend invited him to go to New Life Fellowship to study English for free. After he was there for a while he felt the love and care of God's people towards him and God started changing his heart. He received the Lord Jesus Christ in 1995, got baptized, and began following the Lord. This was the same year he graduated from University.
In 1999 Mara started working for New Life Fellowship as an evangelist and helped plant the first daughter church in the Cambodia country-side. That was the same year that Leah Cassidy, an American, came to be a missionary at New Life, teaching computer. In 2001 Mara married Leah and they continued working at the church. Mara worked as a evangelist helping plant more churches in the provinces and Leah worked in the church office. They have 3 children, Naomi, Anna and Joshua.
Mara currently oversees Pastoral Care Department, which ministers to men, women, married couples, sick people, business and professionals, and New Life's Healing Home. He counsels members, and preaches at many of the church services. Mara loves to evangelize and pray for people, see them come to know Jesus and be set free. Leah is involved with teaching the Bible, women's ministry and discipling and helping women in the church. She also homeschools their children.