A testimony of Rev. Boonkong Boontawee
Compiled by Vachiravan Vanlaeiad
I had been interested in finding the meaning of life since young. I had roamed from one Buddhist teaching center to another in order to attain the truth about life and its meaning. Until I finally entered into monkhood when I was young (the eligible age is 20 years old) and had studied the advance courses on Buddhist precepts and principles for 20 years. I therefore graduated in Buddhist theology and achieved the highest level of Dhamma scholar. As a result, I not only was appointed a temple abbot, but also held the position of Dean Monk Secretary of a district.
However, due to a very strict life I had been living for a long time, after leaving monkhood, I started to lead a worthless life. I compensated the fun and merriment I had been deprived of while living a monastic life by fulfilling my passions to the extreme. I started to indulge myself in alcohol, women, gambling until one day I nearly squandered all my savings. Despite these worldly pleasures received, I felt lonely and desolate, having lost the purpose and meaning of life.
Feeling so desolate and lonely, I then moved to stay with my nephews in Bangkok. Thank God that my nephews were Christians! While living with them, I had seen many Christians and God’s servants come to worship God and study the Bible at their house. Every time I saw these Christians express their belief in God or talk about Jesus Christ, I would be furious, scolding them very harshly, “You – the ungrateful ones, have turned from Buddhism to Christianity. You – the loser and worthless!”
Even though I depended on my nephews in the matter of shelter, I had caused them so unhappy because of my severe scolding and offense that many times they broke down and cried. Moreover, when they were going to church on Sundays, I would obstruct and deter them from going to worship God at church by noisily raising my voice, “Why waste your time and money, going to church every Sunday!” Anyway, I could not stop them. This had gone on without my nephews having even once retaliated at me.
Also every Wednesday night, Pastor Raywat Thepajak would come to teach the Bible and pray at my nephews’ house. This had made me angrier and I would pick a quarrel with him, trying consistently to banish him out of the house; and I had tried my best and in every way, but without success. I thus thought of the other way to get rid of him. That is, I had to read the Bible so I would know its teachings and then I could find the reasons to attack Pastor Raywat as well as my nephews. Reading the Bible, I thought, at least made me know what they foolishly believed.
While living with my nephews, I still led my worthless and extremely indulgent life. Gambling and heavy drinking was my lifestyle. One evening, I was very drunk since I had been drinking alcohol with my friends since early afternoon. While drinking, talking and having fun with them, I had taken a frozen bottle of beer with one hand out of the cooler sitting next to me and tried to open it. Suddenly the bottle exploded and its shards had pierced my left eye. I was so hurt that I had to use my left hand close my eye tightly. And I also felt that a lot of blood streaming down through my fingers and dripping on the floor. Despite exceedingly hurt, I still felt that my left eyeball nearly fell out of its socket and my iris severely damaged. At that time I was so sure I would be blind. I was so afflicted with great pain that I had to lie down and cry and moan agonizingly. During these times of anguish and suffering, there’s only one thought I was thinking, “Maybe my nephews’ God could help me!” So I had automatically made an urgent prayer to God as my nephews always did. I said to Him, “If God is real, please help me, Boonkong Boontawee, not to be blind.” After the prayers, my hurt was alleviated and then my nephews took me to a hospital.
After having received some operations and treatments from the hospital, I had to be discharged and recuperated at my nephews’ house. However, I was so distressed because the doctors had confirmed my left eye’s blindness. Thank God that during my struggles, my nephews and God’s servants from their church had regularly visited and prayed for God to heal me of my blindness. I was very impressed and moved by their love and the love of this God who, in spite of my hatred and belligerence towards Him, had shown me his incessant love and mercy. My nephews had also taken very good care of me. I then made the decision to go to church. On my first day at church, I was so convinced of my sins and felt sorry for my bad behaviors towards my nephews and all the Christians. I had thus prayed the sinner’s prayer and opened my heart to accept Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior. My prayers also included asking God to help me end my worthless and self-destructive living; to give me hope, and meaning and purpose of life; and to grant me genuine peace. And I thank God that, at present, my left eye is not blind, even though my vision is not 100%.
Then at 48 years of age, I had wholeheartedly dedicated my life to serve God by studying the Bible for 4 years in a Bible College. And when I was 51, God had given me a family of my own together with a position of Pastor at Santipap Doi Mon Church, Stuek District, Buriram Province (a northeastern province of Thailand). I have therefore served this Great and Merciful God at this church since then.