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This Kind of Family

Standing by his dying father’s bedside, twelve-year-old Tee knew he was about to lose the only family he had left. His mother had passed away when he was a small child, and now he was facing the harsh reality of death yet again. 

As an HIV-positive orphan, Tee came to the Abundant Life Home (ALH) in Chonburi shortly after his father died. He stayed for the next three years and, during that time, accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. At the age of fifteen, however, Tee left to live with his aunt. It did not go well. In Thai culture, the stigma and marginalization experienced by HIV-positive people is not unlike the experience of those who had leprosy during the time of Jesus. Tee suffered verbal and physical abuse at the hands of his uncle and cousins and was pushed out of the house. At sixteen, he was homeless. 

For three years, Tee camped in the forest, ate whatever he could find, and drank rainwater to survive. His life was one of fear, sickness, and eventually drug addiction, which also meant that he was in and out of jail numerous times. In the absence of adequate medication, his HIV symptoms grew severe. 

During those years, Tee met New, another orphan who was living on her own. As neither of them wanted anything to do with the families who had rejected them, they decided to stay together. Their relationship grew closer, and they were eventually married in a Buddhist ceremony. They returned to the city and tried to make a living selling sausages from a cart, but the business did not meet their needs. When New became pregnant, the situation became more desperate. 

Throughout this time, Tee never forgot the truths he had learned about God while at ALH, and still sensed that God was with him. He would pray, “God, help me. Make my life different. I want to start over.” He shared what he understood of the Gospel with his wife and, after their daughter was born, New decided that she would also put her faith in Jesus. 

The couple continued to struggle to provide for their little family. They often had to rely on the charity of others simply to have a safe place to live. Then COVID hit, and Tee and New found themselves not just unemployed, but starving. Deep down, Tee knew that he was hungry for far more than just food; he was hungry for God. He decided it was time to reach out to those who had first introduced him to Jesus.

Tee called ALH and spoke with one of the house mothers. “I can’t find work, we have nothing to eat, and I don’t know what to do,” he said, “Can you help us?” 

She was glad to hear his voice, and eager to help. Tee was put into contact with a pastor who gave him a job in his construction company, but the labor proved more than his ravaged body could manage. Eventually, Tee and New and their child were invited to return to Chonburi and to live at ALH. 

It was like coming home.

Once he was able to regularly obtain the medicine he needed for his condition, Tee’s health improved dramatically. With the stability of having consistent food, shelter, peace, and loving support from a family of believers, their lives were transformed. Tee took on landscaping work, while New began cleaning houses and cars. Attending Zion church, they committed themselves to being discipled, and today they are attending Bible school with the dream of one day serving in full-time ministry. 

As the young couple listen to their small daughter pray with eagerness and simple faith, Tee and New marvel at how God has led them to this place. They have become the kind of family that they themselves never had. Together they pray that God would one day use them to help others experience this kind of love.

GIVE

Consider contributing financially to the Abundant Life Home (ALH) in Thailand where children and parents affected by HIV/AIDS are provided with a loving family environment and introduced to the person of Jesus Christ. Go to multiply.net/ALH or designate your donation to project C0438.

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