Broken to Become New 

By Dara Rasavanh 

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalms 34:18, NIV)

I helplessly laid my head on my husband’s shoulder, staring at the hospital floor. I felt dead inside. The only thing that could comfort me was the thought that maybe I was just dreaming. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I held her and walked her around New York’s Central Park, my childhood dream place to visit?

This can’t be true, I thought. If I can close my eyes, allow myself to go to sleep, everything will be fine when I wake up.  

Oh no. The doctor came out of the emergency room and walked toward us. I don’t like the look on his face. He and his team escorted us to a small consultation room, where we all sat in silence. I stood up thinking, I’m getting out of this dream. This is not happening. I need to wake up!  

My husband, Mike, held me down. I didn’t want to hear. I didn’t want to listen to what the doctor had to say. I just wanted to shut down. Instead, I heard Mike say, “She’s gone; she’s with God.”  

What? She’s with God? How can she be with God? She’s my baby, my firstborn. She was in my arms yesterday.  

That was July 8, 1989, the day our two-year-old daughter, Samantha, was killed in a one-car accident.  

Having arrived as refugees with our families in the U.S. in the ’70s, Mike and I had finally begun to live the American dream. We had just bought a new car and a home in Des Moines, Iowa. We had good jobs, an education, and were happily married with our first child. Life was going as planned. We were living our dreams. We were looking towards a good future. As a young couple in the greatest country in the world, we felt nothing could go wrong. Death was not part of our equation.   

I can’t say that my walk with the Lord has always been rosy. I’ve had ups and downs, but I know He’s always near when I have allowed Him to take me to my broken places. I’ve learned that I must die daily to myself in order to live daily for God in Christ! 

I felt like one of the walking dead as we planned for our daughter’s funeral. The possibility of this event had never crossed my mind. The only response I had for everyone was “That’s fine.” There were lots of people who came to pay their respects and give us their condolences. I wanted to cry. I wanted to laugh, but nothing came out!  

After the funeral, I thought, Now what? What am I supposed to do? My hopes, my dreams . . . they’re gone. The pain in my heart was too much to bear. I wanted to pull my heart out and be done with it!  

Dara with little Samantha.

Mike and I were grieving in our own ways. We weren’t talking as much, mostly arguing. Some days I felt like I could live, and some days I wished to disappear. I wanted to die and be done with the pain!  

I started questioning God, “Why are you doing this to me? What have I done wrong? I’ve been a good girl. I accepted your Son as my Savior! I made a confession of faith at age 17, married a Christian man, and go to church on Sundays. What else do you want from me?”   

The more I questioned God, the angrier I became. I wanted to get away from everything. I told Mike I wanted to be alone. I didn’t want to be married anymore. I asked him to divorce me. His response was, “Never. I’d rather die than divorce you!” At least Mike’s words put an end to my crazy thoughts.  

One Sunday evening I was so lost I thought about taking my own life. I kept driving and driving. Somehow I ended up at our church, First Church of the Open Bible, pastored by Rev. Ken Groen. The service had already started, so I slipped into the back pew and sat down. Pastor Ken was preaching from the book of Joshua on the faith of Rahab, the prostitute who hid the Israelite spies. She and her household were saved because of Rahab’s faith and courage. Rahab was the only woman who was credited by name into the Bible’s Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11).  

At the end of the sermon Pastor Ken gave an altar call. I thought that was kind of interesting since I was brought up in a Christian Reformed church, and we didn’t have altar calls. I had nothing to lose because sometimes I wasn’t quite sure if I was dead or alive, so I went up to be prayed for, my first experience with an altar call.   

When I came home after the service, Mike and I had a long talk, our first meaningful talk since Samantha’s funeral. I told Mike that I wanted to go back to college and live at the school. Surprisingly, he was okay with that and said he would do whatever he could to support me. That night, he asked me to pray with him, and we cried out to God, asking Him to help us get through our pain. We were young and immature both physically and spiritually. As we look back now, we credit that first prayer together as the beginning of our journey with God as the head of our house. 

Dara and Mike Rasavanh in Thailand.

When we woke up the next morning, I felt as if a miracle had happened. I felt like living again. The desire to go off on my own went away. Instead, I decided to stay home and continue my college education in Des Moines. I continued to question God and to talk to Him about everything, spiritual things. The more I talked with Him, the more I came to understand I really didn’t know Him, and I wanted to know Him more.     

I realized that the reason my relationship with God was so shallow was that I didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I had received Jesus into my life as my Savior, but I had put him on the shelf, so to speak. I worshiped Him but never allowed Him to be in my life. I repented and thanked the Lord for opening my eyes to see the Way, the Truth, and the Life through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.  

I can’t say that my walk with the Lord has always been rosy. I’ve had ups and downs, but I know He’s always near when I have allowed Him to take me to my broken places. I’ve learned that I must die daily to myself in order to live daily for God in Christ!  

Mike and I felt led to take discipleship courses through INSTE Bible College. I’m proud to say that Mike was part of the first class of second level graduates, and I also graduated first level. We have two more children, Zach, age 32 (and daughter-in-law, Molly), and Bella, 28. We also have a two-year-old granddaughter, Vivian.   

In 1996, God called us to plant the Asian Open Bible Church, now Lifesong Open Bible. After serving God at Lifesong for twenty years, the Lord called us to become missionaries to Southeast Asia in 2017. We are now working on getting Open Bible mission works going in Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos.  

It is a privilege to be part of God’s Kingdom and a great honor to serve Him. From my experience I learned that sometimes God must take us to a place of brokenness. There we will find Him because He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. When we truly find God and have Christ in our lives, He can take what the devil meant for evil and turn it around for our good, just as promised in Romans 8:28 (KJV): “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” God is doing a work in us. Sometimes He takes us to the point of brokenness so that He can transform us into something new, something useful, something beautiful. 

About the Author

Dara Rasavanh was born in Laos in 1966 and, at the age of thirteen, migrated with the rest of her family to the U.S.  She and her husband, Mike, planted the Asian Open Bible Church (now Lifesong Church of the Open Bible) in 1996 and assisted in the building of the Lifesong Learning Center in Cambodia in 2007.  After pastoring for twenty years, the Rasavanhs accepted the call to go back to Southeast Asia as Open Bible missionaries and have been living in Thailand since 2017. Dara, an INSTE Bible College 1st Level graduate, holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and a master’s degree in education administration. She is currently a PhD Candidate in organizational management from Christian University of Thailand. 

Message of the Open Bible © Copyright 2022. All rights reserved.