I was born into a Buddhist family in a small village of Cambodia. My parents had 6 children and I was the youngest. When I was 3 years old I started to develop a skin disease on my left knee. It started out just a small dot, but it kept growing bigger and wider each year. My parents loved me, and they tried very hard to find a cure.
One day a villager came by and said “oh, it looks like toads skin, just burn some toads skin and put on it,” and so we did. After killing all the toads in the village, the skin disease was still there.
Another villager said, “there is a very good sorcerer in a nearby village, take her to him.” so we went to see him. When we got there he chewed up some leaves, then he started spitting all over my knee. Still nothing happened.
Another villager said, “A witch doctor is coming to our village. You should take your little girl to the witch doctor.” and so we went to see her. The witch doctor put five cotton balls on my knee and lid them on fire. The witch doctor made me swallow poisonous seeds and eat bitter roots. The witch doctor then told my parents that I would need to go live with her for one month. So my parents sent me away to live with the witch doctor lady for a month. After a full month of burning, and scraping and eating poisonous stuff, the witch doctor sent me home still with the disease on my knee.
When I was 8 years old, my Cambodian Dad died from HIV. He had passed it on to my mom, and she too died two years later. They both died at the age of 42. I remember feeling so lost. It was dark and confusing. My heart felt numb. My siblings got separated and at 10 years old, I was placed in an orphanage.
The orphanage had 42 children living in a rented one bedroom house. The girls slept inside the house and the boys slept outside. The first month I was there, we slept on the cold concrete floor. In the first year we bathed ourselves in a pond that had many different plants growing in it. Some of us were allergic to the pond water, and we scratched our bodies like crazy.
We had rice every meal. The cook had a very tight budget. She liked making soup with vegetables and about a pound of pig fat floating in it. In the rainy season, the boys would go out into the fields and catch frogs, fish, snails and snakes. Anything they caught became our dinner.
Once in a while we would receive food donated to us. One weekend a group of monks brought us several bags of rice. The next weekend a group of Christians brought over fruit and snacks. The Christians were trying to tell us about Jesus, but I wasn’t interested. At that time I didn’t care about religion. I had stopped praying to Buddha because I had lost the interest, and it was no longer important in my life.
In those three years, I tried running away from the orphanage three times, but my plan failed every time. One day as I was doing my daily chores at 5 am, I was so tired and mad at my hopeless situation. I stopped working. I looked at the sky and said, “Jesus if you are real, take me out of this place.” I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was my first prayer. I was desperate. I didn’t know who else to turn to, so I turned to Jesus.
Not long after that, a group of American missionary doctors and nurses came to my orphanage. They realized how dirty the place was, so they got on their hands and knees and scrubbed the floors, and boiled the mosquito nets and washed our hair with lice shampoo and then, they checked our health.
I went up to one of the nurses and showed her my knee. The nurse did not know what it was and she had no medicines for it, but she asked if she could pray for me. To be polite I said yes, fully doubting that anything would happen. After she said amen, I looked at my knee and the disease was still there.
Three weeks went by, I looked at my knee again and I saw only the scar. My mind instantly raced back to the moment when the nurse was praying over me in the name of Jesus. I thought to myself “I think Jesus healed me.” From that moment on my heart was soften toward Jesus, and I sought to know him more. Several months after that, I got adopted by a Christian missionary couple, and my world was turned right-side-up.
My adoptive parents took me with them to Thailand. I was 13 years old. I lived there for 7 wonderful years. I became the first child in my Cambodian family to graduate from High School. In 2011 my adoptive parents helped me get to college in America. I attended Judson University in IL where I met my husband.
Since accepting Jesus to be my Lord and Savior in 2004, He has been so generous, so faithful, and so good to me. He truly is the Light that shines in the darkness. Every time I look back at my past, and every time I look at the scar on my knee I’m simply amazed and in awe of God.
I was a poor, lost and hopeless orphan with nowhere to go and no one to depend on. And as I was at the dead end, broken in that dirty orphanage, in that crowded city, God found me, pursued me, and loved me in a way that I had never been loved before.
Our dear loving and compassionate Father, I thank you for your mercy. Thank you for your pursuit of every heart in this world. You are the God who sees and hears and you respond. I pray that you shine your light so brightly in dark places around the world right now. I pray that you respond quickly to those crying for your help. I thank you for your healing and rescue. I thank you for the scar that I can look at and be amazed of you. In the name of your Son Jesus I pray, amen.
Jesus We Love You (Bethel Music)
Take time to love. Love those God put in front of you. Always speak words of truth and words of encouragement. Complimenting those you love when they are with you means so much more than saying nice things about them on their obituary.
Thai Stir Fry Cashew Nut Chicken (My adoptive parents’ favorite Thai dish).