In the Shadow of God’s Grace
The remarkable life story of Jampee Date-pae
By Vachriavan Vanlaeiad
“Drinking tears as drinking water” is a Thai saying literally meaning having cried so hard and with abundant and overflowing tears that she could drink them as drinking water (usually in order to relieve to regret a marriage). This indicates the crier is in full state of extreme distress and misery. Having cried so hard for a certain period of time is acceptable. But crying so hard for her whole life is undesirable at all.
Jampee Date-pae has been crying for her whole 76-year life. At first she’d cried when opening her eyes for the first time to this cruel world. And she’d been crying with distress since as far as she could remember. She was the oldest daughter of a family of 6 children. It’s true that the eldest and first-born always sees and knows much more than other siblings. Jampee had seen the hardships and anguish crying of her small and frail mother, especially when she was beaten by her father who possessed big and tall stature. Her father was a former war veteran, a low-ranking military man. Moreover, he had lived his excessively sociable life for all of his life, leaving his wife and eldest daughter take care of themselves as well as his other children.
Her mother had opened the front part of their house selling household goods to support her family. When Jampee was only 9-10 years old, she had to paddle a boat full of goods and products along many canals in Nonthaburi Province, selling her merchandise to support her family. So hardships and difficulties and distress have been her close friend since young. Life went on like this until she’d completed her primary education and then until she was 18 years old.
Her family had steadily entered into the state of great poverty as times went by. Therefore when she was 18, she and her other siblings were sent to live with the family’s relatives and friends. For during this time her father had planned to remarry their former house servant so he’d send his children away one by one, claiming poverty as well as their ability to take care of themselves. Moreover, he’d planned to turn his old wife (her mother) away before proceeding with his new marriage.
So Jampee had to leave her house and live and work in a house of a century-old noblemen’s family called “Amattayakul.” While her other male and female siblings went their separate ways to live in many places, except her 4-year-old youngest sister who later was sent back to stay with their father and his new wife for her mother was so sick and poor that she couldn’t take care of her anymore.
Jampee thanks God every time talking about a few years living and working with the “Amattayakul” family. She’d been taught and treated well while staying with them. Moreover, when she was 20 years old, they’d extended great kindness to her by marrying her to a good and responsible young man a bit older than her.
Her new husband had proved to be a family man. When her mother was expelled from her husband’s house, she and her husband had taken good care of her. At first they had built their own small cottage in a slum near the present Bangkok Noi Train Station, using the woods derived from her mother’s provincial home. They had to endure living in this slum for a long time for this place is convenient for Jampee and her husband. At that time they’d work at the Naval Dockyard Department, Royal Thai Navy, which was located not so far from their meager shelter.
While living here, her mother had developed the symptoms of lung tuberculoses. Despite being regularly treated by various doctors and having taken a great amount of medicines, her mother had approached last-stage illness. This had increased the worries and distress of Jampee, her eldest daughter, making her cry again despite having a good husband.
One day, a Christian from a church near their shelter had told her mother about the love of God and the healing power of His Son Jesus Christ. Out of desperation, her mother had wholeheartedly accepted Jesus into her life, fully hoping that she would be completely cured of her terminal illness.
It seems converting to Christianity was the last straw that her mother could grasp for she’d seriously and constantly gone to church to study the Bible and worship God. Moreover, despite her mother’s very frail and weak body that she had to lie down on her mattress most of the time, she’d persistently believed that Jesus the Wonderful Healer could and would cure her. As a result, she’d read her Bible and prayed all the time. And although she didn’t feel healed by God, her faith in Him had been increasing day by day. During these times, Jampee’s mother incessantly told her daughter about the love of God and the answered prayers she’d received from Him.
Having been religious for a long time due to her constant hardships and difficulties in her life, as well as with the encouragement of her mother before the latter’s conversion to Christianity, Jampee felt great annoyance and hatred towards this new religion of her mother. The highly-confident and self-reliant Jampee always talked back, and sometimes she went so far as to reproach her own mother, every time her mother talked about or praised God. Up to this time Jampee is still feeling guilty, remembering her harshness, both in words and deeds, toward her mother during that time. For ex:, one day her mother asked her to buy her some food she’d like to eat but Jampee, usually an obedient daughter, sarcastically told her, “Why don’t you pray for your God to send the food to you?”
Moreover, Jampee always reproached her own mother about reading the Bible and praying all the time. At this, her frail and gentle mother never was angry with her tough and straightforward daughter. She still kept on telling her about God and witnessing to her about His greatness. Then one day she told her daughter that God’s going to take her to Him. During the waiting time, she’d constantly told her daughter to bring her other siblings to God if, one day, she herself had also believed in God. Not long after that her mother died.
Jampee still remembers well her mother’s serene and peaceful face when she died. After her mother’s body was autopsied at a hospital, medical personnel there had asked her about her mother’s previous treatment of tuberculosis. A doctor had even asked Jampee, “Where did your mother get operated on her lungs for I’ve never seen any beautiful scars like these in my entire career!” Actually, her mother had never been under any operations before concerning her diseased lungs. The doctor’s comments were an eye opener to Jampee for they’d made Jampee realize the greatness of God for the first time. She’d also seen the indelible and tangible witness for Jesus the Great Healer which her mother had made even after her death.
From this point on Jampee had wholeheartedly opened her heart out to God and accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior. All her mother’s words and deeds concerning Christianity had vividly flashed back to her mind. Although her husband was a family man, but due to her extended family with her children as two more members, she’d gotten rid of her self-confidence, self-sufficiency and self-reliance and then prayed so hard to God for a new home in a better environment.
God had answered her fervent prayers. He’d shown his mercy and greatness to her partly because of her belief, but mostly because of (she’d realized) His steadfast character of keeping promises to His faithful children. For, according to the Bible, He has promised to grant blessings to the descendants of His righteous ones down to a thousand generations. Jampee thus thought that because of her mother’s faithfulness despite all obstacles while she was living, God had also blessed Jampee who was her daughter, and down to her grandchildren as well. Not long after her mother died, she and her husband had built a big wooden house on a rented plot of land in Soi Wat Dong Moon Lek (situated not so far from their slum shelter).
After converting to Christianity, Jampee had constantly attended a small church pastured by a young Pastor named Wirachai Kowae. Not only she’d taught the Bible, she’d also cooked meals for other members. Jampee had been gifted with various abilities, but the two most outstanding ones are making dresses and cooking. And after the construction of her big, wooden house was finished, some American missionaries had asked her to take care of more than 30 orphans. Jampee had agreed to that for she’d remembered her mother’s words about not to refuse God’s works assigned to her. Moreover, her mother had stressed that she must serve God for free. So Jampee had opened her big house for these orphans with only a meager sum of money from the missionaries to absorb her payment on water and electricity.
During over 5 years of taking care of the orphans, Jampee had been very tired. For during the regular day she still worked at the Naval Dockyard Department and during nighttime she alone had to take care of the kids as well as her own children. And every Sunday, she had to take all the children to church by putting them into taxis. Until one day she couldn’t go on shouldering these extreme burdens and hardships any more, she then transferred all the orphans back to the missionaries.
God had kept on blessing her family for she was able to send her children to study at the best and expensive schools in Bangkok. However, after sending the orphans back to the missionaries, her husband was so injured in a car accident that he had lost his memories as well as his sense of reasoning. So one day he’d had disappeared and finally died after 8 years wandering places aimlessly.
This incident had started the new chapter of “using tears to wash her face instead of water” in Jampee’s life. Now that her children had grown up and studied in good schools and she was only a breadwinner of the family with very meager income. At this crucial time in her life, she’d decided to resign from her secured work with the Royal Thai Navy and sold her house to one of her friends, in order to collect a sum of money for her children’s living and education as well as for her funds to work abroad to earn more money. Praise God that she’d been hired by a Saudi Prince to work as a seamstress in his palace in Riyadh.
While working in Saudi Arabia, she’d been clinging closely to God for she’d realized that she was a lone sheep amidst a bunch of foxes. She’d brought a pocket Bible from Thailand and read it together with prayed so hard to God all the time. Her big boss the Prince was a sexual maniac so every female servant and worker in his palace had been sexually abused by him. Thank God that He had protected Jampee for up to 11 times from this prince’s vicious paws. The last time Jampee could remember well was the greatest miracle of God. For on that day she was called by the prince to come up to his room on the third floor. She had to obey since he’s her boss, her only source of income. And while on her way up to his room, the prince had changed his mind and told her in Arabian to go back to her room for unknown reasons. Praise the Lord, after that the prince had never even been near her again.
During those 10 years long working and living in the palace, she’d been constantly saving every cent of her income and sending it all to her children in Bangkok. Thank God that she’d been treating well by all female members of that royal family as well as by all workers and servants at the palace. She’d never lacked anything physically and her spiritual life was also steadfast and secure. Not only Jampee felt that God had been closely by her side all the time, He’d guarded and protected her heart from various tragedies. The only cause of her worries was her son and her daughter. Although staying far away from them, she’d laid her hands, sending prayers to them across the great distance.
One day while praying, a voice which she believed was God’s told her that her daughter had already died. At that time she didn’t believe and was in great puzzlement asking God why she died because for a long time she’d never received any news from her daughter. She knew only that her daughter was happy living with a man working in a palace in Bangkok. And according to the saying, “No news is good news,” Jampee had never paid any attention to the voice she’d heard.
A few months after hearing that strange, small voice, a cassette tape recorded by her friend from Thailand had reached her in Riyadh. While listening to her friend beating around the bush for a while, her friend then told her that her daughter had already died of taking a toxic substance right in the vicinity of the palace at which her boy friend had worked. This time Jampee was so shocked that she couldn’t realize that she did nothing all that day but kept on telling everybody she met that her daughter had already died. Although during those great tragic times she hadn’t shed a tear, but after that she’d cried her heart out and her tears were in so great amount that she said she could wash and bath herself with them.
However, she was consoled by the fact that she still had a good and obedient son left to her. So no matter how grave the tragedies she’d constantly encountered with, she’d always been consoled by God. And every time after any bad things happening to her, they’d rather bolster her faith in God than break her. For her mother’s words and deeds during the last few years of her life after conversion to Christianity as well as the instructions her mother had relentlessly given to her unwilling ears and hearts, had indelibly embedded in her heart and mind. Jampee has been one of God’s bravest warriors and workers for her entire life.
After living and working in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for 10 years, she’d decided to go back to her home country to stay with his only son. Now that her son worked and lived in Chonburi Province and had divorced his wife. Jampee thanked God for at least there’re two of them left to each other and would start their new lives together. She then opened up a little shop selling household goods in front of her residence near her son’s work place. During this time her son had developed a severe disease and ended up passing away long after that as well as after a series of hospital admittances. This time Jampee had been prepared by God to gradually absorb this greatest tragedy in her life.
After the slow passing away of her only child, she’s still keeping her little shop despite her great loss. During the time, she had been diagnosed with the symptoms caused by her neck bones having constantly pressed on the spine’s nerves, resulting in her extreme pain and numb on her right arm. Despite having seen many specialists as well as taken a huge amount of medicines, her sufferings had never seemed decreased. Until one day a doctor told her they had to make operation on her neck and the results might not be favorable. That is, she might be paralyzed for all of her life.
When coming back home from the hospital with that bad news of the possible operations, Jampee closed her shop and threw all her pills in the garbage can and cried her heart out to God, begging him to heal her…telling him that she’d not take any medicines anymore and would receive healing from Jesus the Great Healer only. After the hard crying, she felt very tired and sleepy that she fell asleep since that late morning. When Jampee woke up to the sounds of front door knocking made by a customer, she was so earnest to open her shop and serve her customer that she forgot about her problems as well as her heart-pouring prayers for God’s healing touches. Long after that she’d felt that her right arm had not been hurt anymore despite her refusal to take medicines. And up to the present time, she’s never felt pain and numb on her right arm since. God had again extended His mercy to her by granting her complete healing of her illness.
Jampee’s life has loudly proclaimed the greatness and unceasing mercy of God. She’s claimed that God has never answered her fervent prayers (not even once!) for anything despite some of them are so delayed. Not only constantly answering her prayers, in many cases God’s even granted her the answers by His own voice. After losing everyone she loves and every human pole she’d hoped and wished to lean on, she’s been wandering to places and God has shown his steadfast mercy and lavishing provision to her everywhere she goes. For she’s always been welcomed by everyone both Christians and non-Christians. At her 76 years of age, she’s still making dresses, cooking as well as doing various kinds of chores in every place she lives. Her only wish and hope is that may God use this last stage of her life praying for and blessing as many people as possible. For your great faith in God would be resumed and refreshed, and your heart would be strengthened a great deal just by talking to her and listening to her witnesses. She’s also been constantly prepared herself for the second coming of Jesus Christ for she feels the time is near. Because about 5 years ago, she’d thought, one day, that she’s going to die but God sent his angel to tell her that she’d not collected enough offerings to God in Heaven yet. So God has granted her more time to live in this world.
Jampee is still crying her heart out to God every time she prays or witnesses to His greatness. Up until now she’s still using her tears as water to cleanse and baht her face as the saying goes: “Drinking tears as drinking water.” However, her tears are now the tears of joy and happiness and gratefulness of the unfailingly abundant and overflowing grace of God constantly extended to her.