Keo* was a very good Buddhist.
She gave alms, she prayed, she worshipped the local gods, and she married a good Buddhist man. She knew that all this would secure a happy life for her, and a life of love.
Keo needed a sense of security like that. She lost her father when she was only six. Her mother, unable to support her, took Keo to her Buddhist aunt who raised her. Exposed to the practices, teachings, and beliefs of Buddhism since childhood, Keo became a devoted follower.
Then two tragedies struck, and Keo’s life was never the same.
How could this happen?
Keo’s nine-month-old daughter was fast asleep one night when she suddenly woke up and started convulsing. Her small body twisted and shook. Keo and her husband did not know what was happening to their little girl. Alarmed, they rushed her to the hospital, but their daughter died before they could get there. It broke Keo’s heart.
Then Keo’s husband, a contractor, was traveling to the city to buy materials for a major project. On the way, he stopped to visit his sick mother, who lived about 40 miles from their house. While he was there, he offered to help some local men cut down a tree. He collapsed while working and died on the spot.
Keo was beside herself. She could not fathom why these bad things were happening to her family — she had done all the good works required of a good Buddhist. With her daughter and husband gone, she wondered, what was her purpose? Who would love and care for her?
God answers Keo
In 2000 a missionary came to visit a friend of Keo who lived nearby. One day, while Keo was visiting her friend, she overheard the missionary sharing the gospel with her friend. She distinctly heard the servant of the Lord say to her friend, “God loves you.” She was struck by it, feeling that no one loved her.
“From childhood, I did not experience real love. I really needed love,” she said. She wanted to have the love of God the missionary was talking about. Then and there she gave her heart to Christ.
“The love of God filled my heart,” she recalled about that moment.
When Keo got home, she immediately threw away all the idols in her house. She obtained a Bible and started reading it and praying. On Sundays she would buy a ticket to ride a ferry boat across the vast Mekong River in order to attend church in another province. She did this for two years. Then the church leaders, noticing her seriousness in loving God, invited her to begin leading others in Bible study.
A new life serving the Lord
Beginning in 2003, Keo led a different house church every Sunday. The police learned of her activities and detained her at the police station.
“Why do you go out to share the gospel?” an officer interrogated her. “You must stop doing that.”
Taking this as an opportunity, Keo shared the gospel with the interrogating officer. Then, when she was released, she ignored the warnings, continuing to lead Bible study and share the gospel. Repeated intimidation by the police didn’t deter her. She was willing to pay the cost of loving and serving Christ, no matter how high.
Keo now coordinates 33 churches in her province. When asked by a visiting ANM staff person how much she loved the Lord, Keo tearfully replied, “With all my heart, my strength, my soul! Tears are flowing from my eyes now because I’m rejoicing in the love of the Lord, in how God is so good to me.”
*Names changed and specific locations withheld for the safety of local Christians