‘Evangelistic atheist’ finds identity and meaning in Christ

Putti Sok, confused by her parents’ Buddhism, became an ardent atheist. Now she has a desire to share the love of Jesus Christ. (BSM Image)

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FORT WORTH (BP)—Friends who know Putti Sok say her passion for Jesus Christ and desire to share her faith are even more recognizable than the longboard she frequently rides or the flowers she often wears in her hair.

putti sok skateboard425Putti Sok rides her longboard. She went from ardent atheist to evangelistic Christian after coming to Christ through the Baptist Student Ministries at the University of Texas at Arlington.   (Photo / Neil Williams, SWBTS)But just a few years ago, she had not even heard the gospel message.

Sok’s parents are both Cambodian, but she was born in Long Beach, Calif., and grew up in Dallas. Despite being raised in the United States, Cambodian culture still influenced her life.

“As a young girl, I saw myself as a Cambodian Buddhist,” Sok said. “Why? Because my parents told me.”

Confused by parents’ Buddhism

Cambodia is about 95 percent Buddhist, Sok noted, and her family continued to carry out the religion’s traditions when they came to America. But those traditions meant little to Sok.

“As for the meaning behind what we did in the Buddhist belief, it was confusing to me,” she said. “I didn’t really understand it.”

Sok considered Buddhism a ritual that came with the culture, just as she saw Christianity as a religion only for Americans.

In junior high and high school, Sok began to realize religion is a decision and not inherited culturally. But instead of choosing between Buddhism and Christianity, she became what she calls an “evangelistic atheist” who asked others what they believed about God, challenging them to try to convince her God exists.

Friends at Baptist Student Ministry

Beginning her college education at the University of Texas at Arlington in 2008, one of Sok’s goals was to build deep relationships. putti sok talking425Putti Sok talks with friends at the UTA Baptist Student Ministry.She succeeded as she made many friends, several of them Christians active in the Baptist Student Ministry on campus.

Despite differing beliefs, Sok participated in Bible studies and attended church with her friends, whom she says were faithful in telling her about Christ.

“They shared the gospel with me over and over again,” she said.

At times, Sok served others in their community alongside her Christian friends, doing chores or other projects for those they met. While her friends would tell those they served they did it because they wanted to show Christ’s love, Sok could only say she served because of her love.

“It wasn’t until later that I saw everything I was doing was becoming meaningless and in vain if it didn’t have eternal meaning,” she said.

Sok realized during her sophomore year if God were real, he would be able to hear her prayers. Each night, she began to pray God would help her understand what she heard from her friends and read in the Bible, because it seemed like foolishness to her.

A defining moment

Then one day, Sok entered a closet in the Baptist Student Ministry building that had been turned into a prayer room.

Inside, she found a bowl filled with pieces of paper with the names of students’ spiritually lost friends. One after another, Sok looked at the slips of paper, and over and over again, she found her own name on the slips.

Witnessing the faithfulness of her friends after a full year, despite her previously telling them not to pray for her, Sok burst into tears in the tiny prayer room.

“I told them. I was very adamant about it: ‘Stop praying for me. I’m never going to become a Christian. That’s never going to happen.’ God was softening my heart then, and I started asking God, ‘Please allow me to have this faith that I do not have.’”

The next day, Sok attended a retreat center with the BSM where students heard a guest speaker.

“I felt that God was asking me to respond,” Sok said. “All my questions and concerns and doubts that I had, I finally laid aside, and then that night I prayed to receive Christ.”

The next morning, Sok still felt unsure her decision was enough or genuine. But in her time over the previous year with the BSM, she had heard that the Christian faith bears fruit. She discovered fruit evident in her life after returning to campus.

Desire to share the good news

“All of a sudden, I just had a desire to go and share (the gospel) with people,” Sok said. “God is real, and he has changed my heart.”

After making that decision to follow Christ, Sok decided to follow God’s leading into ministry. Upon completing her undergraduate work at the University of Texas at Arlington, Sok served there as a campus missionary for a year, leading the BSM Friday evangelism group and a dorm ministry. This year, she is serving as a BSM intern with Go Now Missions, discipling student leaders, as well as new believers.

Sok also believed she should continue her education. She enrolled at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, taking one class this semester. She looks forward to becoming a full-time student studying missiology in the fall and getting involved with evangelism opportunities the seminary provides.

Putti Sok has written several student missions blogs for the Baptist Standard.

Read them here:

Arlington: Evangelistic ripple effect at UTA

Holy Spirit at work in Thailand

Making friends in Thailand

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