God Is My Reward
True story of a former Arts student of Rangoon University
By Vachriavan Vanlaeiad
Jilly is a 67 years old Thai woman living in Bangkok. She is a daughter of the late Chinese-Lahu reverend named Joseph Chang (or Yawhta Chang in Lahu language) who had served God as a pastor cum Bible teacher in Chiang Tung, Eastern Shan State, Myanmar. Her father was one of the most beloved and respected God’s servants in Chiang Tung. Her mother was a descendant of Akha hill-tribe people born also in Chiang Tung.
Joseph was the son of a faithful Lahu Pastor in a small village church established by American Missionaries and located in the mountains of Mainland China. He met his Akha wife (Jilly’s mother) when she and her family members and friends had migrated to that small village during World War II. They eventually married and had three children: Jilly’s elder brother, Jilly, and her younger sister). However, when Jilly was only 4 years old (in 1950) the Chinese Communist Party led by Mao Tze Tung had taken over China, all the family and friends must therefore migrate to Chiang Tung. All of them had to leave their houses and farms and other properties behind and run for their lives. Thank God that all Jilly’s family members had survived brutal killings and could start their new lives in Chiang Tung.
After having emigrated to Chiang Tung, some of Jilly’s family members, friends and neighbors had decided to travel further to other parts of Burma (Myanmar). Her grandparents had migrated to the north while her father and mother had made the decision to settle down in a Chiang Tung village. Since her fraternal grandfather was a pastor and leader of Lahu tribe people, Joseph had chosen to follow in his father’s footsteps by setting up a Lahu church here and starting to construct a small church building with the funding support from many Christians of various ethnic groups.
While faithfully, energetically, and diligently serving God here, Joseph had also unfailingly raised his family of 7 children. He’s one of the best models of godly fathers, constantly providing good things for his big family. Jilly’s mother was a handy woman and good wife too. As far as Jilly can remember, there’s nothing her mother could not do as a housewife and mother. Moreover, her family had grown vegetables and fruits as well as raising various kinds of animals, both for food and work. But Jilly and her siblings had to work hard also to support their own education by being hire hands because their family had left behind all their valuables and properties in China and had to start their new lives from zero again in this new land.
Even though being a little girl, Jilly still remembers the atmosphere of very loving and peaceful family to which she belonged. Although her mother was quick-tempered but her father had a cool heart. She had never once seen or heard her parents quarrel or even raise their voices. And her father was very clever and tactful in raising and teaching his children. Every time her siblings (including herself) had quarrel, her father would order all them to stand in line (from the oldest to the youngest) and the same and equal punishment would be inflicted on them. As a result, despite some disagreements or dissensions between the 7 siblings, these would never develop into any quarrellings!
Not only being a part in a very loving family, Jilly had also experienced and gradually absorbed her father’s utter love and faithfulness rendered to his God. Every evening, Jilly remembers, the whole family would sing and pray together and her father would teach and share the Bible to his big family. Surprisingly although her father had always gone elsewhere to serve God, he could spare his rare and precious times taking very good care of his family. So Jilly had never felt even once that she and her siblings lacked love and caring from their father.
Her father’s great characters had enormously affected and influenced Jilly in every area of her life. She had also inherited most of her godly dad’s characters. And because of these characters she had been able to later survive and finally emerge victoriously in her long years of extreme hardships during living and raising her own family in Bangkok, Thailand.
Jilly had the chance to study Arts in Rangoon University for one or two years. Unfortunately, her education in that prestigious institution had been forever stopped due to some government policies. Her charming beauty as well as her quiet and cool and prudent personality had strongly attracted the then new graduate from Science Faculty, Rangoon University. A young Thai-Yai man named Sun had constantly been her family guest despite objections from his strong Buddhist family. However, both Jilly and Sun had so deeply fallen in love with each other that they had made their grave and dangerous decision to elope by running away to a Thai-Myanmar border village in Chaingrai to marry (by a Christian minister, thank God!). For according to Christian matrimonial, their marriage would be stopped immediately if even a soul has raised his/her hand to object their wedding performed during the ceremony. Sun was very sure that his strong and determined Buddhist mother had to raise her voice against his marriage with a Christian so elopement was the only way out of this trouble.
This elopement had caused her parents’ great shame and extreme broken-heartedness. Even her father had shed tears of grief and sorrow for Jilly was his oldest daughter and he loved her so very much. However, there’s nothing Joseph could do except pray so hard for his daughter’s safety as well as happy and fulfilled life with her nominal Christian husband. For before their elopement Sun had agreed to accept Jesus Christ as his Savoir and later been baptized in order to be able to marry Pastor Joseph’s beautiful daughter. However, all their lives together, Sun had acted against his wife’s Christian beliefs until the day he died.
The young husband and wife had planned to migrate to Thailand and later if some opportunities presented themselves in the future, they thought, they would migrate from there to Australia or USA. However, their path had not been paved with roses. Although they had been granted Thai National ID Cards together with changing their names to Thai at Mae Sai, a Thai-Myanmar border district in Tak Province, and although they had many friends and contacts in Bangkok, they had to struggle as a young alien couple without any knowledge of Thai language. But thank God that the speakers of Thai-Yai could understand Thai language well plus people living in Myanmar possess good knowledge of English for Myanmar used to be colonized by the United Kingdom, therefore, their first jobs in the area of Sathorn Tai Road, Bangkok, were English teachers/tutors.
So although they had to start their lives living in a rented small room and being hardly survived by very meager income, they were happy because their deep love for each other had sustained their harsh lives and her husband had not yet shown his true colors during these honeymoon periods. Not only Jilly’s love for her husband, but also the constant love and faithfulness to God which she had inherited from her father, had been able to cushion her extreme difficulties throughout her miserable life living with Sun. Moreover, Jilly had never abandoned her strong belief and trust in and her love for God no matter how cruel life had been.
As time went by her husband had been offered many good jobs (attached with good payments and privileges). His Bachelor’s degree in Science from a prestigious university plus his smartness and intelligence, he together with his good wife had led his family up to the higher level of Thai society. They had finally owned a big house and Jilly was on and off between a housewife and a working mom. Her husband was still a good husband even though he had his own world and social life outside his home, leaving Jilly to take care of both the house and three children alone. Their eldest child was a boy, and their second and third were girls. Every Sunday, Sun had driven the whole family to church and sometimes sitting with his family listening to sermons. However most of the time he just sat waiting inside his car. Although they’d married for 10 years and had 3 children, Sun seemed not willing to grasp Christianity at all. He’d constantly complained that his wife and children had gone to church too often. He’d always asked his wife the same question: Why don’t you all go to church only once a month?
Sun was easily irritated and resentful while Jilly was a gentle and quiet woman. He always was the one raising his voice while his wife was calm and cool. He’d scarcely shown fatherly love and affection to his children. Moreover, he’s a demanding husband and father and always thought that the world was moving around him (or he himself was the center of the universe). He always bragged about his great ability and success and pushed his children, especially his eldest son, to work harder and harder in order to achieve the same success as he claimed he had. This had been making his only son feel pressured and pushed and unhappy all the time for it seemed he could never satisfy his father no matter how extremely hard he tried.
Although Sun was a regimental husband, Jilly was still a calm and patient wife. Because of these opposite characters, their family life still went on seemingly smooth and well in the eyes of the outsiders. Sun was so successful in his work and business that he had indulged himself in friends, alcohols, politics, and women. So for a few times, his wife had thus been infected with venereal diseases. And Sun was the one who provided her with medicines for she dared not go and see the doctors. Despite this, Jilly was still an understanding wife for Sun had never specially acknowledged or favored any woman. During these times, Jilly was still reading the Bible, praying to God and going to church. God was the only life source and support she had and it seemed she had nobody but Him (despite having a husband and three children!). She’d hardly skipped church. But things started to get worse since she’d delivered her third and last child.
Sun was out of his job as a manager in a big company selling paints when his youngest daughter was only a few days old. Even though his working and business life had not been ended for he had many friends and acquaintances, this time he superstitiously and strongly believed that because of his daughter who was born in the year of the tiger, his life seemed to plummet down. He believed that he who was born in the year of the snake had the greatest enemy in the ones who were born in the year of the tiger. As a result, he’d since ignored this daughter and never expressed his love nor done his fatherly duties towards her. Later in life, this daughter was the most problem child, rendering great grief and distress to her mother. And since this daughter was born, he’d changed in many ways. At first he’d shown only annoyances towards his wife’s Christian beliefs, but after she was born he’d openly expressed his hatred towards Christianity by religiously practicing Buddhist cum superstitious beliefs by doing meditation and collecting images and amulets as well as doing all kinds of black magic. On some nights, Jilly could even feel some invisible evil beings hovering around them in their bedroom while they’re sleeping!
Jilly had been enduring hardships: mental, physical, and spiritual, for more than 20 years while living with Sun. However, during these suffering times, she had not even once thought of killing herself to get away from her sufferings. Her great miseries had started, as already mentioned above, since her third daughter was born. Sun had been a self-centered person for all of his life. His utter selfishness had not only affected his wife, but his eldest son and particularly his youngest daughter also. However, Jilly’s nature of great patience which she’d inherited from her godly father, had sustained their married life until the days he’d absolutely changed. His radical change had resulted in his utter hatred and enmity obviously expressed towards his wife and children. And during these times he’d also taken another wife. He’d so verbally hurt his loved ones, insulting and degrading his wife as well as discouraging and distressing his children that they had many times tried to commit suicide. As a result, only their middle child has been successful in both her educational and work life for she was least affected by her father’s abusive behaviors.
During living with her husband, jilly had at times acted as breadwinner also. For Sun was a very sociable man. He’d never been able to save money because his social life had almost exhausted his income that one day he was in debt in the amount of almost 30 million baht! Life with Sun had dramatically accumulated stress until one day Jilly’s health was so deteriorated. She’d developed allergic symptoms. These symptoms had nearly killed Jilly. She’d not been absolutely cured despite having seen best doctors and specialists in Bangkok. During her grave illness, she had to resign from work to take care of her three children. Moreover, her husband had periodically been with his new wife, sometimes for a period of 6 months without news, calls, and money. Jilly felt so lonely and distressed and God was only her source of living. All she could do was pray and read the Bible. She’d desperately prayed so hard for God to heal and provide for her and her children. Her miseries were so great that even her two mango trees near her house had died despite her having a green thump! She always believes that God had transferred her great grief and distress to these trees. However, she’d had endured these extreme sufferings alone for a long period of time until one day.
She remembers well that during one lonely night on her big bed while she was in deep sleep, she saw great lights coming into her room through the room’s open windows, causing her room so white and bright. And then she’d heard very beautiful voices singing 3 songs: Holy Holy Holy; Rock Of Ages; and Nearer My God To Thee. After that she’d heard her father’s voice reading some Bible verses for her (but she couldn’t remember what verses). When she woke up, it was already three o’clock in the morning. Since then her illness was rapidly and miraculously healed. She’s strongly convinced that this heavenly incident was the result of her father’s constant and fervent prayers for her since the day she’d eloped with her husband. This miraculous incident had also confirmed that God’s always with her through good and bad times, that God never left her even though she had done wrong to Him and to her parents by marrying without their blessings.
And the other testimony about God’s grace is that since her husband had taken another wife, he’d always insulted her until she felt herself utterly degraded and worthless. So Jilly started to pray for God to restore her dignity until one day she was offered the most privileged job in her life. Jilly was given a post as the secretary to Vicar of Christ Church (an Anglican Church) which is one of the most prestigious churches in Bangkok because many church members were presidents and managers of big foreign companies established in Bangkok, as well as diplomats and ambassadors from various countries. While working at this church, her husband had failed in his business ventures, resulting in his great debt. So during these times, Sun had to depend on the income of his wife (whom he’d so insulted and looked down upon) and his grown children. However, Sun had never regretted or repented of his business misfortunes and failures. His heart was still hardened, practicing his Buddhist cum superstitious beliefs while rendering abusive words to his wife’s Christianity.
This went on until one day Sun had tried to restore his fortunes and dignity by making the decision to do business with his Thai-Yai friends in Myanmar. So he left his family in Bangkok for a long time, scarcely sending news or making calls to his wife and children. Until one day Jilly was told that he’s already dead in a lonely place. And before he’d left his family (after he’s in massive debts), he’d asked for divorce from Jilly for the reason that his great debts would never affect his wife and children if he died.
Jilly has been living peaceful, fulfilled, and happy life since her husband went to live and work in Myanmar for the last time. She believes that this is the greatest reward from God for her patient endurance and unquestioning faithfulness. Her Children have also been restored to the lives of faith, success, and happiness. Her eldest son has married and together with his wife run a business of their own. Her middle daughter is the most successful and happiest one, having graduated from Thailand’s oldest and most prestigious university and later worked in one of Thailand’s big fashion business establishments. And Jilly’s youngest daughter has been restored, both physically and mentally, and has been living her fulfilled life doing her dream works. And the greatest blessing from God is that Jilly could buy her own house with the savings from her meager income during her more-than-ten-year work at Christ Church.
Jilly wants to encourage all the readers of her life story that no matter how miserable your lives have been, stick to God and His love. She fully accepts and understands that her great and long sufferings are the consequences of her stubbornness and disobedience to both her parents and her God. However, God is faithful and His mercy never fails. And if any of her readers feel that their lives are so distressed and hopeless that they even think of doing something to end them, please stop for a moment and look at Jesus on the cross. For all sufferings in this world could never compare with the sufferings of Jesus being crucified on the cross for the great and unceasing love of his created human-beings. So, she concludes, before making the decision to end your precious lives given by God, PLEASE LOOK UNTO JESUS AND THINK TWICE. 🙂