Bo Yihouy

“In the eyes of everybody else, I came to Singapore in the August of 2011 to seek better education but the truth is, inside, I was running away from friends-turned-enemies and a school I hated going to.

As a 12-year-old, I sunk into depression when I was suddenly isolated from my circle of friends. In my bitterness, I felt betrayed, unwanted, lost and very very angry. However, I kept the raging emotions I felt to myself and put on a stoic façade. One day, I broke down and was brought to a psychiatrist who prescribed anti-depressants to me. I refused to take them after a relative told me that I become quick-tempered whenever I took them. I slept up to 13 hours everyday, ate like a pig and glued my eyes to the TV because those activities kept me occupied, preventing me from thinking negative thoughts.

Finally, I asked to study abroad and was enrolled into SYAS in the February of 2012. On the first day of school, I entered the Chapel to the sound of the whole school singing the hymn ‘His Love Is’. The lyrics made me tear up and I started to wonder about and long for the ‘love’ told in the song. I got to know my form teacher, Mrs Fam Wai Leng, and she invited me to have Bible study with Mr Thomas Ang in July. I learnt that the Bible is a special book that contains the truth about what life is supposed to be like and that Jesus knows my pain because He’s gone through pain before.

On a random day in September, I noticed a sign outside the Chapel that told me there is a ‘Divine Worship Service’ on Saturdays. What caught me off guard was the fact that the service is on Saturday and not on Sunday. Interested, I decided to attend the service that week. Tiffany Hutabarat, a facilitator I met at the English Gospel Camp held that year introduced me to the youths in the church and told me about her life as an Adventist. I started attending church every week and stayed after service because I liked the caring and relaxing environment. In just a few months, I was already attending Let’s Care Group, having Bible study, a Pathfinder, a Choir Member and helping out in Church. I started to believe in the gospel, yet, I still yielded to sin and even denied knowing God. However, God forgave me each and every time. There came a point of time when I realised that I had to stand up for God and stop living a sinful life (or at least, try to). From then on, I started to fight with my family because of the decisions I made for God but God made provision for me every time I was in a tight spot.

Many people told me that I had changed.

A maid who I used to live with told me: “You’re different now. You used to lie in bed all day and looked so heartbroken but you’re so helpful and friendly now. I saw you praying before you ate and I know, it must be God who changed you.”

A rival said: “You’re a better person now… and to tell you the truth, you make me want to change too.”

It was only then that I realised that my prayer for a friend was answered. Jesus slowly became like a friend to me and He took away the bitterness inside me. He loved me and empowered me to be kinder and less selfish. I was able to forgive and let go of the past because I remember that He forgave me so many times. I no longer felt alone and I was able to see that so many people loved me and wanted to help me. Whenever I think about how Jesus puts others above Himself, I wanted to put others above myself too.

I only made my decision to get baptised at my second Gospel Camp in the September of 2013 despite learning the truth about baptism long ago because I knew my family objected and I was afraid. After getting rejected again, I decided to wait for a time when I feel that my parents will consent to baptism before I ask them again. I waited and waited but the feeling never came. 8th of March was the date set for the baptism of my friend, Jariya Chanachai, (who was also having Bible study with me) and I. That week, I had a really long talk with my mom, trying to convince her that baptism was the right choice. She got angry and we fought so hard that I started crying. I never got baptised that Sabbath.

“It’s just not the right time yet, she’ll come to say okay soon, and I just need to wait a little longer.” I told myself over and over again. It was a lie. I was so afraid of the consequences of going against my parent’s direct orders and was hoping for a non-existent easy way through. Soon, I didn’t even want to get baptised anymore. I started to ignore the Spirit’s whisper that I have to get baptised and the distance between God and I only grew. It seemed as though every time I say no to God, a door is closed between us. Once I was no longer walking in God’s will, I felt lost, became grumpy and I couldn’t concentrate on my schoolwork. I spiralled continuously downward.

I met Aunty Diana from SDACC who unknowingly gave me the inspiration to fight for God again. The Bible is clear that every believer should be baptised by immersion and I could no longer wait for a ‘yes’ that I knew was not going to come. I had the confidence that God would be with me no matter what happened and that life without God’s guidance was, proven again and again… not worth it. With those thoughts in mind and the support and prayers of many good friends, I decided I was going to get baptised on the 17th of May no matter what. I tried to call my parents to tell them about it but was only able to reach them very late that Friday night. Both my mom and dad were infuriated and threatened to stop my education abroad and to disown me. It was only by the prayers I breathed every few seconds, saying, “God, please help me have courage,” that I managed through that phone call. I called my Bible study teacher right after and we prayed for my parents. The next morning, I went to Church and got baptised. My elder brother came to witness my baptism in secret but someone caught him sitting in the pews and told me. ☺ He stayed until the end of the worship service and I was overjoyed.

I went back to Cambodia with my suitcase filled with Ellen G. White books, letters of encouragements, farewell gifts from friends and the assurance that I had friends and people from all over the world (thanks to Dr Tim Riesenberger) praying and fasting for me. My FAST group (Mr Thomas, Ms Pua Enning, Jariya) and Youth Pastor, Mr Christon Choo, were so worried for me that we devised multiple plans of what I would do if a certain thing happened. They even made me memorize their phone number and email addresses in case my phone gets confiscated. Dr Loo held a prayer meeting for me and gave me money should I need to get a phone or if I needed to buy a plane ticket back on my own. Everyone was so supportive and kind, I feel so blessed and thankful. The truth was, my friends were more worried for me than I was for myself. After finally making the big decision for God, I felt so at peace. It was such a contrast from the state I was in before I got baptised. The fear and worry I had was all gone. That’s one of the amazing things about God, as long as you know He’s with you, it doesn’t even matter if you’re in a fiery furnace, you have no fear or regret.

Against all odds, I was able to return to Singapore on last minute notice. My dad told me I could go back just three hours before my flight. It know it was a miracle. However, he told me later that I was not allowed to go to Church or Caregroup. Once again, I fell into ‘waiting-mode’. It was only one month later, when I learnt the story of the Four Lepers in 2 Kings Chapter 7, and was exhorted by my FAST Group {Now called the Four Lepers (haha ☺)} that I set a deadline to go to church. Two weeks later, I called my dad and told him I was going to go to church. He got really angry once again and told my uncle to speak to me. I chickened out on the day I was supposed to go to church because I was rationalising that it was okay if I spent my Sabbaths at home as usual. However, the whole time, Hebrews 10:24-25 stood out in my mind.

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25

Mr Thomas called me and reminded me of the truth that God obviously wants me to be in Church and that it was my choice if I wanted to continue to rationalise and lie to myself. I came to a decision that there is no point in living a life that is not in line with God’s will and there is nothing I need to fear if I am living under God’s will. The right choice was crystal clear to me after I chose to trust God. I needed to go to Church. Therefore, I went to Church that day, knowing that I was going to be sent straight back to Cambodia.

I called my dad after service and told him truthfully that I went to Church. He was really upset and told me to go back to Cambodia that week. God was so merciful that He performed a miracle for me again. Just like how He made way for the Four Lepers at the Gate of Samaria, He made a way out for me. I called my dad that evening, asking for the impossible, that he would let me finish my school year. Surprisingly, my dad allowed me to finish my Sec 3 in Singapore! I jumped for joy and skipped all the way home. And now, he consented to letting me finish my schooling and higher education in Singapore as well. What’s even more amazing, our family bond is now stronger than ever before. The tension we used to have between us has lessened incredulously and I am just so fortunate to have the support and unceasing prayers of so many fellow Christians and Non-Christians alike.

I am just a coward and a sinner who fell into temptation and forgets the goodness of God over and over again. Yet, Jesus chose to lift me up again and again and tells me that to Him, I am worth more than His life, that He would rather die than let me slip away from His grasp. And die He did. To me, I have a testimony not of courage but about the omnipotence, goodness, mercy and unconditional love of God. I am so glad I got to know and chose Jesus.”

Bo Yihouy
November 2014