The Wat Opot Children’s Community gets many people coming through it’s gates… most are on Journeys that started long before they arrived. Steve Jessup is one of those who came to us in search of finding meaning to life. Unhappy in his work and his marriage and not satisfied with the advice and council he was getting from his Christian community he came to Wat Opot looking for sanctuary from a world that was caving in on him. He asked me one day what I thought of divorce and I told him that it would be better to ask me what I think of marriage. A short time later he started the divorce process and moved from Australia to Cambodia.
Although he had been a successful business man, his love was teaching and so he took a job teaching English here in Cambodia. That led to opportunities to teach in Viet Nam, which took him away from us but gave him much satisfaction. He was a frequent visitor and the kids all knew him as Papa Steve. I remember on one of his visit, he showed me a note written by one of his students. It simply read, “Mr. Steve, You are the best teacher I have ever had.” I could tell just by looking at him, that this note was more important to him than anything else he had accomplished in life.
He came to visit us about two weeks ago, just on the spur of the moment. He has built a new home in Ho Chi Minh and wanted to invite me there for a visit. He was also excited about a new school he was getting started there. I asked him if he felt he had done the right thing in getting the divorce and he replied, “Yes, because it has given me the opportunity to rediscover myself… and I am beginning to have a new appreciation for my wife and family that I don’t think I could have had, if I had stayed in the relationship as it was.
Steve died of a heart attack while at work on the 24th of July. He will be greatly missed by all of us.