Thy Kheav (Tie Key-ev) has seen a lot of life most of us are shielded from. He’s Cambodian, but was born in Thailand. By the time he was two, his family was resettling in Providence, Rhode Island. They were escaping the Khmer Rouge and the infamous “Killing Fields.” At the age of four, Thy was hit by a car. He had a permanent loss of hearing in his left ear; he also injured his left leg to the degree that he will be dealing with the after-effects for the rest of his life. After finishing high school, Thy found work in an embroidery company. He lost that job after wrecking his car and not letting his employer know where he was for a couple of days.
So he went to Boston to be with his father who was dying a slow death from cancer. His mother started blaming him for not being attentive to his father. This led to alcohol abuse. “For nine years I drank morning, noon and night. I would work drunk, it didn’t matter. I was copying the alcoholic ways of my father, uncle and brother.”
Knowing he needed a new start, Thy saved enough money to come to Texas and ended up in Dallas. He was the manager of an IHOP restaurant, but got busted for public intoxication. At the same time, Thy and a friend started showing up at Bear Creek Community Church, where he met long-time UGM employee Lydia Webb, whose husband Dennis pastors the church. He learned about UGM.
“I spent one night at the shelter before applying for the Discipleship Program. That meant the end of three very precious things in my life, drinking, smoking and watching TV, but I was ready for a change. I had been raised as a Buddhist, gotten myself baptized at a Mormon church, but I was ready to learn about the real Jesus Christ. It was the Passion Week experiences of Christ that shook me to my soul.”
Thy is a servant to the Lord these days, and a graduate of the Discipleship Program. He wonders about the possibility of Seminary on down the line and started attending Eastfield College in the Spring of 2014. In the meantime, he’s handling security at the men’s shelter which right now means working full-time overseeing up to 14 Veterans participating in the Healthcare for Homeless Veterans program at UGM.
Thy has overcome a lot and accomplished a lot. With Christ as the center of his life he’ll accomplish a whole lot more.