In 1975, when I was around three or four, my country went into the communist war in Cambodia. They called it the killing fields. I would witness people get crucified, and babies being split in half in front of their mothers. There were just dead bodies on the street.
My father got sick and during the war, when you got sick and useless, you just disappear. The soldiers just get rid of you. At that time, I felt I have lost everything. I remember the hatred and the anger. I refused to believe there was a God. I hated my life. I lived like that for a long time.
Then, there was the opportunity to come to the United States through sponsorship. After that, I realized that the only way for a Cambodian woman to leave the house was through marriage. So, I found a man who was willing to marry me.
I had a son and I thought, I can’t have a son. He’s going to grow up and he’s going to rape and abuse somebody. He’s going to hurt somebody. I loved him but I hated him at the same time only because he was a man.
I started to think about ending my life. I tried taking pills. When that didn’t work, I became unfaithful to my husband. I thought I was going to get AIDS and die. In the process of my infidelity, I had nine abortions. But still, I didn’t catch a disease and I was still alive.
Eventually, I separated from my husband. I was working in a factory at that time and there was this Mexican family from work. They moved in with me as my roomates after my marriage ended. One day, they invited me to come to church.
I didn’t want to go but a voice told me to go. I was fighting with the voice in my head but I still found myself going. I was so nervous and shaking. I said, “Jesus, all these crazy people seem to think that you are God. If you are, show me.”
Eventually, I actually went to church by myself. But it was like there were two people fighting inside me. One that didn’t want to go and another that just pushed me to go to church. One Sunday, I found myself at a Spanish church. I went all the way to the front and sat down. For some reason, I left space for someone to sit beside me.
When the music started, I felt pain. I was so broken and felt unloved. When I looked up, I saw a man, dressed not of this generation. He said to me, “I love you and I have always been here. If you want to cry, you can cry on my shoulder.” And I did. I cried. I was screaming so loud.
After that I felt different. I looked back to thank him and no one was there. At first, I was afraid when I went home and the Mexican family told me that it was the Holy Ghost. But from then on, I found myself going to church. My life changed from wanting to die, now I want to live. I want to live not for myself but for Him.