Blog #7 – If Christ left the 99 that He might seek and save one lost sheep, can we be justified in doing less?
If Christ left the 99 that He might seek and save one lost sheep, can we be justified in doing less?
Well, if you read my last blog you were left with a cliffhanger, which was not really my intent, but there has just been so much that has happened that has changed our lives that I could not fit it all in one post. However, the clue that I left you with was that we got a car right when we needed it, as well as a picture of my wife and I, with Preaw in front of the car. The following is to fill you in on what has happened since November 11, 2017.
We were celebrating Women’s Day, enjoying this fellowship time with all the members from our church and with the other churches. At about 1 p.m., we got a call from one of Preaw’s friends saying that something was wrong with Preaw. We did not worry too much at the time since she has had a few problems before that had turned out to be nothing, but we decided to head home and try to figure out what was going on. We soon found out that she had tried to kill herself! So many things ran through our minds, but the first question was, “Why?” Then, “Is she going to be okay?” “What happened at school that was so bad?” “Was her life really that bad?” We had so many questions, but no answers. So, we immediately made plans to go to the hospital and stay with her.
We bought tickets on an overnight bus and struggled with the question, “Should tell her family?” On the surface, this seems like an easy question. If it was me who did this, it would be a resounding, “Yes! Tell my family immediately.” However, with her it was not so easy. Her home life was very bad and we were worried about how they would react, especially with the way that most Thai people view suicide. We thought that they could cause more problems and add more stress to her and to us. So, we decided to wait until we knew more about the situation before we would tell them. To help you understand a little better, I feel like I should give a little background on Preaw’s life.
Boonyada (Preaw), was born in Bangkok and was born to a drug-addicted mother. Her father moved to Chiang Rai, never really to be heard from again and Preaw never having met him. She was given a last name, but it was not her mother’s or father’s last name…it was the last name of the neighbors. At the age of 2, she was given to her great aunt who lives in the On Nut 49 slum. Her great aunt, Ba Bo, is in no way responsible enough or qualified to have the kids that she has, let alone to take on the responsibility of more kids, but she took her anyway. I am including a video about her cousins so you can see the house and conditions that she grew up in because she grew up in the same house. The conditions were/are less than ideal and many things happened there that should not happen to anyone, let alone a child. I am certain you have an idea what I am speaking of and I do not wish to detail the horrors in this blog post.
Preaw has been alone almost her whole life relying on herself and her friends for everything. When she was 13 years old she started working at a noodle shop while going to school. She was waking up at 7 a.m. going to school until 3 p.m. Then from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., she went to work at the noodle shop for $10 a day, giving $6 a day to Ba Bo. Preaw said in all the years that she lived there (from 2 to 15 years old), she only recalls Ba Bo cooking for her maybe five times. Also, for anyone living in On Nut 49, there is a foundation that will pay for the kids to go to school (including tuition, transportation costs, uniforms, and food), but while she lived there she never saw any of that money and none of it was put toward her education. All her wages were put toward school and the money that Ba Bo was receiving was going toward gambling. The really sad thing about this whole story is that before we started working in On Nut 49 someone decided that Ba Bo was ready to be baptized and she is now baptized member of our church, but still continues to do the same things she has done since she took on Preaw and she rarely attends church. Ba Bo’s house also has people in and out of it all the time, almost all are drug addicts and degenerates. At any given time there are 5 to 10 kids there as well. As I type this blog, I feel anger just thinking about all the pain and damage that these kids are going through because of their parents’ laziness. Living their lives chasing a feeling instead of chasing a better life for their children, something that would give them a much better feeling in the long run. With people in and out all the time, it is hard to protect these kids from abuse of all forms and abuse is very prevalent in that house and in our slum in general. Psalm 127:3 states, “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Children are a treasure and need to be treated as such, not to be ignored or neglected or viewed as a paycheck or a burden. I am saddened by the amount of abuse and neglect that I have seen in the last few years. I have not decided which is worse, the abuse or the neglect, as both seem just as damaging, although in different ways.
Back to the story. We arrived in Chiang Mai and immediately made our way to the hospital and found Preaw hooked up to IVs and a tube feeding charcoal into her stomach through her nose. I was horrified to see her in this state, with all her friends huddled around her crying. We stayed in the hospital with her for two nights, sleeping outside on a bench taking turns watching her throughout the night. She was coherent, but we could definitely tell that something was off. She was more demanding and acting really crazy and sporadic with mood swings that had her emotions all over the place. We were very worried about her as we watched her rebound from this suicide attempt.
As she regained her consciousness and recaptured herself from the drugs, her generous nature took over. She looked at all the people who were in the hospital and her caring heart could not sit there idle. She proceeded to make friends with all the old people there and started handing out all the drinks and snacks that her friends had given her. I was stunned! Why would someone who just the day before tried to kill herself be worried about the well-being of others? It did not add up to me and as she became more and more alert, I started asking more questions.
About a month before all of this she was having trouble sleeping and was having frequent headaches, so she decided to go to the doctor by herself. When she arrived the doctor told her that the cause of all her problems was because she was depressed and proceeded to prescribe her Zoloft to bring her out of depression and Valium as a sleeping pill. I don’t think I have to tell you how irresponsible this is prescribing these two drugs to a 16 year old with no supervision, any drug really. As she took it she felt more and more depressed and the November 11 was the final straw. She left church early and went to the dorm and decided to eat all her pills, plus some aspirin . Then nothing happened, so she decided to get a rope and proceeded to tie it around her neck. As she did this, the drugs that she had already taken kicked in and she passed out. Her friends came in a few minutes later and called for help.
We stayed with her at the hospital for two days while they monitored her and we praise God that nothing was wrong with her. She had tried to swallow all of her anti-depressants and a big bottle of Paracetemol, but they were able to pump her stomach before any real damage had been done. We slept on benches at the hospital and took turns staying up at night watching and praying for her. I also would like to thank the two families that helped us a lot during that time (the Kennedys and the Bairs). The whole time we were there we were praying for her recovery and for a plan. We had no idea what to do! We hoped that the doctors would give us a plan of action. They gave us a plan but not a very good one.
As we prayed and talked to many people who had, had somewhat similar experiences I was slowly putting together a “Plan Z” just in case the plan of the doctors, the school, and pastors would not work. Well, the doctor’s plan was to put her in the mental hospital for 30 days and let them figure out what is wrong with her. We went to three different hospitals and that was the only plan that they could give. We thought about it and visited the mental hospital. We spoke with the doctor and we were very scared to leave her there after talking to the doctor. We thought to ourselves, “How can we tell this girl that we love her and then leave her here all alone for 30 days after she just made this grand call for attention?” So, my wife and I stepped away and prayed. We decided, even if it was against all the doctor’s recommendations, we were not going to leave her there. The doctors were not please with that decision and made us sign a waiver that if anything bad happened to her or she tried to kill herself again that it was our fault. That was hard for us because we had no idea what was going to happen or if we were responsible enough to take care of or make the right decisions for a suicidal 17 year old. However, we did what we felt like the Lord was leading us to do, setting aside our own desires.
The next day we went and talked to the school. We were hoping that the principal and administrator would give us a plan, but they didn’t. They said that usually if this happens they have to kick the student out of school, but they would not do that with her. She could just not live in the dorms. So, if we want her to continue going to CAA that we needed to find a place for her to live in Mae Teang and a family for her to live with. That was not good for us because all the people we knew up there either had a hard time communicating with her or they already had a full house.
We were at a crossroads! Do we leave everything in Bangkok to take care of her? Not likely, we had our ministry, friends, jobs, and people we cared deeply about that we needed to help. Would we just send her back to On Nut? Not likely, because we knew that if we did that she end right back in a hospital bed or a coffin. We only had two options, so we decided to pray again for our decision. We did not have a lot of time to pray or decide because we had her right there with us! What were we going to tell her? This was a big decision for us! Luckily, we had Plan Z! This was the plan for us to leave everything we had in Bangkok and take care of her like one of our own. So, we did! After praying since we got there, it seemed like the only reasonable option.
Luke 15:4 reminds us that “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” We knew that Jesus would do it for us, so why wouldn’t we do it for her? So, we did! It has been a few months now of us living as a family. Although she is not our “real” daughter and were are not able to legally adopt her, we treat her like our daughter, we call her our daughter, and we love her like she is our “real” daughter. In the few months we have had so far have been amazing! Everyone gave us all kinds of reasons why this will not work and the doctor at the last hospital even told us that she was bipolar. She has shown no signs of bipolar, she has just been a great daughter. To me it seems like kids with problems just need love. They just need a support system so they know that when they mess up someone will still love them, still be there for them, and still push them to do better next time. I am actually really happy with the decision that we made, though I miss everyone in Bangkok. Seeing the joy on her face, being able to hug her, and being able to support her is worth everything that we gave up. Sacrifice is a huge part of Christian character and we had to sacrifice everything for her. The great thing is that when you sacrifice for God, He will make it worth your while. I have never met anyone who sacrificed for God and regretted it!
If Christ left the 99 that He might seek and save one lost sheep, can we be justified in doing less?