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Child of a Buddhist god finds faith as God’s child

NORMAN, Okla. (BP)–As a youngster growing up in Malaysia, Susan Khoo was a child of a god. But it was a god she feared and one who wanted gifts from her. It wasn’t until she was a teenager that she met the God who had a gift for her — eternal life.
However, accepting that gift made Khoo’s life a difficult one for nine years.
“When I told my parents I had become a Christian, it was the beginning of my World War III,” said Khoo, who is now a member of International Baptist Church, Norman, Okla.
Khoo, who has two younger brothers, Michael and Benjamin, grew up in a very close family in Malaysia.
“My father was a businessman who traveled frequently, but I was especially close to my mother,” Khoo recounted. “In fact, we were more like sisters.”
Khoo said her mother was very easy to talk to, even on sensitive subjects like sex which didn’t intimidate her. “I was very proud to have a mother like that,” Khoo exuded. “My friends wanted my mother to be theirs.”
The Khoo family practiced Buddhism in a country which at that time was about 30 percent Buddhist, 65 percent Muslim and 5 percent Hindu and other religions.
“There were special ceremonies, ancestry worship and rituals done at home by the women,” Khoo said. “I was made a child of a god who watched over me.”
Khoo said she hated going to the temple every year to celebrate her god-father’s birthday. She explained the god is a statuary idol, but his spirit goes through a medium whom one goes to for a blessing.
“He would swing a whip close to me as a form of blessing,” she said. “He also requested things. I had to make a contract with him that if I made all A’s on my school tests, I had to give him a gold chain. I was also told if I brought him fruit, my mother’s surgery would go well.”
It was just before her mother’s fourth surgery that Khoo was introduced to Christianity.
“My mother’s condition was very serious,” Khoo said. “We were so close and I didn’t want her to die. I was afraid I would never see her again.”
A friend, Phyllis, called Khoo one day to find out why she was so sad. When Phyllis discovered the problem, she asked Khoo if she could pray for her.
“She prayed a simple prayer over the phone, but something in her voice told me she cared,” Khoo recalled. “That night I slept like a baby. I had so much peace, I couldn’t understand it.”
Khoo said she found so much more peace talking with Phyllis than going to the temple, and she knew that her mother was going to be fine.
“I asked Phyllis to tell me more about this Jesus,” Khoo said. “She didn’t pounce on me, but slowly led me to a knowledge of him.”
Khoo started going to Phyllis’ church on Sundays and to Friday night fellowships, although she never told her parents where she was going.
“At church I found friends and a love I had never experienced,” Khoo said. “I loved the music they sang, envied the way they hugged each other and was curious about the love they shared.”
Khoo said Phyllis always took her Bible to school, a convent school taught by Catholic nuns where Khoo learned about Old Testament characters in a religion class.
One day Phyllis shared John 3:16 with Khoo, substituting her name, Susan, for “world.”
“I began to wonder why my god-father never told me he loved me,” Khoo said.
It was about that time that Khoo’s school gave the students free tickets to the movie, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Khoo said she cried in the theater because even though she knew she was watching just a movie, she also realized who God is.
“I started comparing Jesus Christ as a God of love who died for my sins to the Buddhist gods who were selfish and only wanted things for themselves,” Khoo said. “In the temple, you have to give the gods things and don’t get anything in return.”
After Khoo accepted Jesus by repeating the sinner’s prayer printed in Daily Bread on Sept. 14, 1981, she kept her conversion from her family.
“However, the Bible says you can’t serve two masters,” she said. “I was running out of excuses for going to church and I didn’t want to pray at home to the idols anymore.”
She said she chose a time when her parents were watching a comedy on TV and seemed in a good mood. When she revealed her secret, her parents told her brothers to leave the room.
“My parents were both crying. That’s the first time I ever saw my dad cry,” Khoo said.
However, the tears turned to anger, and her dad told her, “If you think this church is so good, let them take care of you. You are no longer my daughter.”
The mother she had been so close to said, “If I’d known you would be a Christian today, I would have killed you as a baby.”
For the next year, Khoo said, there was no conversation at home. She stayed only because her pastor told her it would not be a good witness for her to leave home at her age of 17.
“I had lodging and meals,” she said, “but no family life.”
All during that time she was holding fast to Acts 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
Khoo talked to her brothers when her parents weren’t around and they both came to know Jesus. That angered her parents even more.
Two years after she was saved, Khoo said she knew she had to be baptized, but wouldn’t do it without her parents’ consent.
Mellowing somewhat, they gave their permission and even attended the baptism ceremony.
In 1985, Khoo was planning to come to the United States to study.
“I knew God wanted me to come to the U.S., but I also knew no one would follow up on my parents if I left,” Khoo said. “But one of my friends told me that my part was done, I had planted the seed.”
While Khoo was attending the University of Oklahoma, both of her parents became Christians. Khoo returned home in 1989 where she began a seven-year stint as sales and marketing manager for Sheraton Hotels. She returned to OU this year to pursue a master’s degree and is “waiting on the Lord to confirm a call to missions.”
“When I returned to Malaysia in 1989, I told the Lord it was my desire to go back to a Christian home with no idols,” Khoo said. “The house had been painted and there were no idols to be seen. It’s nice to have a family who can kneel together and pray.”

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  • Dana Williamson