“Hey, Jesus! Where are you going, Jesus?” Theary’s neighbors scoff at her when she gets on her motorbike to leave her house. She has earned this nickname by being the only Christian in her mostly-Buddhist village. She is not ashamed of her faith, and she politely refuses to go to the temple with them for Buddhist holidays or to participate in rituals. “I worship God now,” she says. “I don’t do that anymore.”
Once when a neighbor brought over some food, Theary thanked God for it. Angrily, the neighbor said, “Oh, you thank God and not me? Next time I won’t be giving you anything.”
When Theary closes her doors to prevent interruptions during family worship with her daughters, she gets accused of being antisocial and inhospitable. “How come you close your doors? Your God says you can’t visit with us?” It doesn’t matter what she does, she is always wrong in their eyes.
With the help of numerous donors, we were able to build a house for Theary, so she didn’t have to live with her Buddhist parents anymore. The neighbors have become jealous that she has new things, and they antagonize her. We put a barbed-wire fence around her property so she could grow a garden without cows trampling it. A gate has not yet been built, so the neighbors still tie their cows under her house. When she asks them not to, they angrily refuse to speak to her. If she removes the cows, they put them back. Anything left out and unattended grows legs and walks away. She is constantly greeted with the cold shoulders of her neighbors.
Does this discourage Theary from her faith? Absolutely not. She is as dedicated to God as ever, and we try to encourage her as she faces daily persecution. “Jesus is the best name of all,” I said to her. “It’s not an insult. We can be proud to be known as followers of Jesus.”
Please pray for Theary. And please pray that her neighbors’ cold hearts may be slowly thawed by the warmth of Christ shining through her.