At the tender age of 12 years, Diaw picked up his first guitar. Naturally inclined to music, he taught himself how to play within three months. To Diaw it seemed as if this was what he was born to do. He dreamed of working as a musician, traveling with a band, writing his own songs. He couldn’t imagine doing anything else with his future.
Raised by his grandparents in Thailand and the oldest of four siblings, Diaw seemed routinely to get into trouble. His family cautioned him many times, but being involved with the music scene he tended to be associated with a bad crowd of friends all too often.
The years passed by, and Diaw did reach some level of success with his music by his mid-twenties, but then made one very bad decision. He chose to misappropriate some funds from a company he was working at. This act landed him in prison. With a six-month sentence to serve, Diaw was scared when he first entered the Ratchaburi Central prison in Thailand. Having only ever heard stories of prison life from movies and television, he expected to be met with a very threatening environment on the inside. However, he encountered something in the prison which he had never expected, and it changed his life for the better.
Three months into Diaw’s sentence, he passed a room where a group of Christians were worshiping together. He didn’t know what they were doing, but his love for music drew him to go and see what this group was about. Diaw began to spend time with them and asked if he could play in their band. He had never heard the gospel before and didn’t understand anything about Jesus. Although he started to read the Bible, it only seemed to confuse him more.
Then one day Diaw began to write a song. It was a song that was unlike any other that he had written. It came from his heart, from a heart touched by God’s love, even though he had yet to experience the full meaning of that love. Diaw’s song seemed to speak the words that so many of the men involved in the Christian fellowship had wanted to express:
“Life behind these high walls contained only suffering and paying the price of our mistakes. Once in prison, is there anyone who should be concerned with our lives anymore? But I met some Christians. They took me from the terrible things in my life, by telling me many wonderful things about God. Now my path is heavenwards.
“I want to say thank You that You have shown me the path to salvation. I was blind, but now I can see. From now on, I will remember this love that You have given. Thank You from the bottom of my heart for this prison ministry.”
After Diaw asked God to come into his life, he began reading the Bible again, and this time what had previously confused him suddenly seemed to make sense. He prayed every day in the prison that someone would help him learn more about God. Diaw knew Noiy, the leader of the YWAM team who ran the church in the prison, but he never expected that Noiy would take him under his wing.
Diaw, along with 50 other inmates, joined the YWAM Prison Discipleship Training School (DTS) even though he knew that he would soon be released from prison. After two weeks of the Prison DTS, he was free to return home. He told his Buddhist family that he would be moving to YWAM Ratchaburi to learn more about God. While they didn’t understand, his family could already see that there was something different in Diaw and they allowed him to go.
Diaw will be applying to complete his DTS with YWAM in Chaing Rai in the North of Thailand this coming September. He wants to grow more in his relationship with God. He has no money to pay his DTS fees, but he is going in faith that God will provide for him somehow.
Since writing that first song in the prison (which you can listen to here), Diaw has written another 30 Thai worship songs. He studies the Bible every day, and is serving alongside YWAM Ratchaburi, living and learning more daily together with the staff.
Diaw’s song has been sung over and over in the YWAM Ratchaburi Prison DTS. It is sung with raw emotion by men who truly understand that God reached them in a place where they did not think anyone cared about them anymore. And Diaw’s dreams of having his own band and writing his own songs have not changed – but now his heart is to use that dream to bring the message of the gospel to others who have never heard it.