My own children, my daughters, told me that they would leave me if I did not convert back to Buddhism
For Ma Thay, the consequences of becoming a Christian began immediately.
Her devoutly Buddhist husband attempted to catch Ma Thay reading her Bible so he could burn it. His initial attempts to gently persuade Ma Thay to change her mind turned violent, and he began to regularly beat her. One night, Ma Thay’s husband hit her so hard with a metal pump she had to be taken to the hospital by her neighbors. But the pain of these moments pales in comparison to the day she lost her kids.
Ma Thay’s eyes fill with tears as she remembers that day. Her husband moved to another house, taking everything in the house with him: including their two sons and two daughters.
“My own children, my daughters, told me that they would leave me if I did not convert back to Buddhism,” Ma Thay remembers.
Ma Thay was left with an impossible, unimaginable choice between her children or her faith.
Fifty-six-year-old Ma Thay was born and raised in a Buddhist family and was a strong Buddhist herself in her younger days. From the outside looking in, Ma Thay led a normal family life. Her husband owned and maintained a cycle repair shop, while Ma Thay worked at the nearby railways as a railway track flag holder.
It was through Ma Thay’s mother and younger sister that she first learned about Jesus. For years, Ma Thay tried to lure them back to Buddhism, and eventually, Ma Thay’s brother excommunicated his mom for accepting a foreign faith.
“I had one younger brother who did not like it when my mother accepted Christ,” Ma Thay remembers. “He destroyed the roof, so that when it rained it leaked inside the house. He also burned my mother’s clothes. He destroyed some pieces in the house. He threw all the clothes of my mother out of the house and told her to leave the house. At that time, I thought that my younger brother was doing the right thing. I went to my mother and scolded her. But later when I became Christian, I told my brother that God is good.”
It was through her mother’s prayers and faithful influence that Ma Thay became a Christian. One day, a Christian friend who was also a Buddhist-background believer visited Ma Thay, and slowly, eventually, she accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as her Savior. Her life was changed by Christ and Ma Thay quickly began sensing the Holy Spirit’s prompting in her life.
“One early morning, a little voice inside of me told me that I should learn Psalm 23,” Ma Thay remembers. “I am illiterate so I asked my niece to teach me the Bible verse and how to read it.”
Ma Thay then pauses and begins to recite the Psalm from memory.
Alone, Ma Thay moved to a new place away from her old home. Christian friends of Ma Thay’s who attended Open Doors’ Women of Worth trainings invited her to attend the seminars and services, helping her through the ordeal. Time passed and Ma Thay was divorced by her husband who shortly after joined a Buddhist monastery. The rift between her family grew.
“When my oldest daughter was to be married, I was not invited,” Ma Thay said. “My friends were not happy because I was not invited, but I prayed for her.”
Though they were forbidden by their father Ma Thay’s children began secretly visiting her.
‘’My daughters would visit me when they had problems and I would pray for them and teach them from the Bible,” Ma Thay said. “They would go back home feeling at peace and happy.’’
When her second daughter was married Ma Thay was allowed to attend her wedding. Her ex-husband was also there. One of Ma Thay’s daughters decided to return to her mother’s home, but her husband soon came to get his wife. Ma Thay took the chance to share the Bible with both of them.
Ma Thay often gets to see her grandchildren and she celebrates their birthdays through Christian traditions. There have also been sweet moments of reconciliation between her and her children.
‘’One time, my youngest son was ill and he missed me very much. His father could not take good care him, so he sent him to me,” Ma Thay recalls. “My husband told him not to say that he sent him.”
Smiling, Ma Thay proudly says this son accepted the Lord as his Savior and was baptized.
Ma Thay continues to pray for her children, and as a believer she reaches out to her family and teaches them the Bible. She also has taken in four children, loving them as her own. Ma Thay requests that Christians around the globe pray for her, that she might be used by God to find lost souls and lead them back to Christ, especially her children. Her desire and prayer is that all her children will find the Lord.
As she is nearing retirement, Ma Thay is concerned about what will happen when she retires; however, after all she’s been through Ma Thay has faith God will provide.
“Without Him, I can’t go to heaven. He is my salvation. I keep Him close and I pray. I’ve never felt tempted to go back to my old faith. The more hardship I face, the closer I get to God.”