She wore her shame like a second skin. For most of her life, Suree was convinced that she was branded, forever destined to pay penance for her sins, and always on the run.
Her story, like the story of her country, reflects her woundedness. The shame began at a very young age, when ongoing sexual abuse at the hands of her father and grandfather left her HIV positive. Eventually, Suree was sent away to an orphanage in Bangkok, where lies and financial mismanagement caused it to be shut down six years later. She was only fourteen, and homeless, when she came to live at the Abundant Life Home (ALH).
But she was still a runaway.
For four years, she lived at the home, studying diligently and getting straight A’s. Then, one day, she ran away with a man. Later that night, Suree was found distraught and confused, and was taken to an emergency shelter. At the shelter, no one would eat with her because they knew she was HIV-positive. She cried, begging to return to ALH. She did, but within a week she ran away again. Workers from the home pursued and found Suree, and brought her into their own home. It lasted two months. Suree ran away to her mother who was living in Bangkok in an abusive relationship. When I went there, I was able to convince both mother and daughter that they were in danger, and I brought them to stay at a nearby church. Weeks later, Suree was on the run again. She seemed resigned to life as a homeless outcast, constantly being pursued only to run away again. For another seven years she continued to run, in and out of Pattaya, in and out of relationships, bearing two children in her restless, self-imposed exile. She grew weary.
Finally, one rainy night in September, Suree called me. She knew she needed to run back to God, and that night she and the father of her youngest child ran into the waiting arms of a Saviour.
Suree moved back to ALH, this time with her boyfriend, Em, and her two children. The couple decided to marry. It was a simple wedding on the beach, and Suree was a beautiful bride. She cried and cried. She had never imagined a day like that, a day when God would take away her shame, and clothe her in white. Finally, she could stop running.
Later, Suree and Em heard God’s call to consider becoming dorm parents to the boys living at the orphanage, children who came from horrendous, abusive circumstances in government orphanages, each one of them a potential runaway needing to be pursued. But Suree understands them. Their story is her story, and she wants them to be caught by Jesus, as she has been. To be caught by love is a glorious thing.