Rage and abuse dropped like tornados, devastating Suong’s early childhood. Her father, an alcoholic, terrorized her mother until she could bear it no more. Suong’s mother divorced her father and took off with Suong’s younger brother, leaving 6-year-old Suong behind.
Eventually, Suong’s father remarried, and unbeknownst to the hurting little girl, transformation waited just around the corner. When her stepmother, a Christian, entered Suong’s chaotic life, Jesus came with her. Her stepmom’s kindness comforted the girl bruised by years of turmoil.
After several years, the seemingly impossible happened: Suong’s father surrendered his life to Jesus. Their home was transformed.
“When my father [embraced] Jesus, our home became a home of happiness,” Suong shared.
A spirit of peace replaced the atmosphere of fear and anger in which Suong had been nurtured. Instead of cursing and criticism, prayer and praise became the family’s vocabulary. They went to church and prayer meetings, joining in the rhythms of God’s people. Suong, now 12, attended Sunday school, learning about the fathers of faith, such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The people and places in God’s Word transfixed Suong, who had never heard anything like it before.
Friend’s Life Impacted
The spiritual transformation in Suong’s home had a great impact on her close friend, Cahya. The forgiveness displayed by Suong’s stepmom toward her husband testified to the love of God, and the radical change in Suong’s father was a testament to the power of God. Attracted to Jesus immediately, Cahya gave her life to Him and encouraged her friend to trust Jesus, too.
Suong realized she needed Jesus. But her version of salvation fell short.
“I considered myself a Christian,” Suong said. “But I did not have a personal relationship with God. I thought that attending the church and prayer is enough to obtain salvation, but it was not so.”
What Suong practiced looked a lot like the traditional religion with which she grew up—following rules and rituals to gain God’s favor. At home, Suong was surrounded by strong Christian influences. At school, however, everything was turned around.
Peer Pressure Smothers Interest in Christ
Suong had many friends who followed their traditional religion. Suong and Cahya stuck out. Though Cahya embraced it as the cost of following Christ, it made Suong uncomfortable. While Suong loved her parents and Cahya, her longing to fit in was stronger, and Suong pulled away from them and the Lord.
“The study of God’s Word and prayer became less frequent,” Suong shared, “and eventually the desire disappeared from me.”
As Suong’s heart grew cold toward the Lord, the vacant spot did not remain empty for long. In its place arose an idol: materialism. Maybe wealth would make her happy since God had not.
Suong dreamed of becoming rich. She knew it would be difficult for someone as poor as she was, but she made plan after plan. Each time, however, she would scrap her plan, unable to bring herself to act on it. Thoughts of radical life changes were much safer than actual radical changes. There were no consequences to dreaming.
Perhaps her inaction was the Holy Spirit restraining her, saving her from the heartache of a lifetime pursuing wealth. Maybe her Christian training gave her pause, a faint memory of warning. Whatever the reason, Suong merely nursed these longings in her heart.
“I wandered aimlessly in my spiritual life for several years,” Suong shared. “But God was working even though I refused to listen and heed His desires for me.”
God Shows Up at Youth Conference
When Suong was 18, the church her parents and Cahya attended organized a three-day youth conference, which Cahya invited Suong to attend with her. Though their friendship had been strained by Suong’s worldly desires, the girls still cared for one another. Being with Cahya would be like old times, simpler times, a time of happiness.
During the conference, Gospel for Asia (GFA) pastor Zaw taught from Ecclesiastes 11:7–8: “Truly the light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun; but if a man lives many years and rejoices in them all, yet let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. All that is coming is vanity.”
The words pierced Suong’s heart with light. She realized everything she had been dreaming about was meaningless. Riches, wealth, possessions … Though she might enjoy them for a time, darkness would come and everything would end. She saw her idol for what it was: empty promises. Suong knelt and cried out to the Lord, confessing her sins to Him.
“I invited Jesus to reign over my life,” Suong said. “God is so good, faithful and just. He forgave all my sins and purified me from all my unrighteousness.”
God had opened her eyes. Suong could see she was steering herself down the path of pain and heartache so familiar from her childhood. Recognizing she needed the Lord to take over, Suong committed to following Him whose plans lead to joy and eternal life.
Suong became reacquainted with God. The old habits of reading the Holy Scriptures, praying and attending church shaped her life once again. Familiar rhythms became energized by the life of God flowing from her heart.
“I [embraced] Jesus as my personal Savior and fervently seek His will for my life,” Suong shared.
Suong has found peace and pleasure in pursuing the one thing that lasts: God Himself. Even through the storms of life, Suong is safe and secure in God’s hands. She has found the one thing that matters.