Vietnam Trip Report

First of all, thank you for your powerful prayers and partnership. I am coming out of the jet lag fog, thankfully, and ready to share with you about the second portion of this mission.

Part one of the journey was a quick stop in China followed by a wonderful week in Myanmar at the Reading Room we sponsor and of course, all things soccer outreach for many days. (We’ll be covering this part of the trip more in depth in a coming blog.)

Pastor Dennis and Minh sharing at the conference

Pastor Dennis and Minh sharing at the conference

"Let the Children Come to Me"

The week in Vietnam was more than Pastor Dennis Owens and I could have imagined. National partners Minh and Blessing welcomed us with loving hearts and open doors to new relationships with leaders in their sphere.

The Children's Workers training conference was two full days of joy. Thirty leaders gathered from all over Vietnam to prepare their hearts and their supplies for 12 weeks of Bible Studies (1-week sessions) offered by 8 teams in 100 villages. Half of the participants were from minority people groups and half were Viet. All were seasoned worshippers, prayer warriors and ready to offer their summer to reach the children of their nation with the love of Jesus.

Children’s workers praying to listen with their hearts

Children’s workers praying to listen with their hearts

The soil of their hearts was receptive. Dennis and I brought training sessions on seeing, listening to and speaking for God as we engage with children, plus encouragement about building the family of God first through intimacy with Him, resulting in spiritual sons and daughters as our heritage.

During the initial worship time I "saw" huge sacks of seed for sowing slung across the bodies of all the attendees. I encouraged them with this picture at the closing/commissioning service. Between the teaching sessions, the teams created props, costumes and visual aids for the upcoming Bible Schools. The sanctuary at the mother church (there are 117 daughter congregations) was well used as a training center, prayer and worship place and an arts and crafts areas in our days together. We ate our lunches in a makeshift garage area which became a dining hall in 5 minutes as folding tables and stools were added. Such wise usage of space in a city where space is surely lacking!

(Left) Minh’s daughter holds one of the babies at the center (Right) Minh’s dream of serving the children is coming true

Here is some feedback from the attendees:

Through the teaching, I came to see the value God places on children. I learned from Pastor Dennis that ‘a person is a person, no matter how small.’  I am challenged to serve the children out of a love for them and God, not just responsibility. The children will know my attitude toward them. I am serving all summer in persecuted and remote areas. Please pray for God’s protection and anointing. Please pray for my family as I serve this summer away from them.
This conference helps me to understand children, to humble myself, come down to their level and listen to them. I usually talk too much and lecture them. To be more effective, I need to listen more than I speak while teaching, allowing them to share. Please pray I will be more effective in my work with the children.

Visiting House of Hope

Visiting the Children's Center was a moving experience. Minh's vision is becoming a reality! God is raising up a lighthouse of love to serve a community of children who are neglected and forgotten. Since my last visit, Minh and the neighbors have paved the roads near the center. Flood damage from last year's devastation has been repaired and facilities have been beautifully upgraded. Children are taught and nurtured in a calm and caring manner by loving caretakers.

See some of the fun the kids at the Children's Center in Vietnam have with Pastor Dennis.

A nutritious lunch and snacks are provided each day, for some, their only food. English classes are taught in the evenings to older neighborhood children and adults as a bridge for friendship building and sharing the love of Jesus.

In closing, my heart is full of praise to God for His Presence and rest given to me every moment of this journey. Thank you for going with us in prayer and intercession. You have done the hard work and there will be ongoing fruit from your labor.

Prayer Points:

1. Protection and fruitfulness over the 10 weeks of ongoing Bible Studies throughout Vietnam. Last year 1,000 children received Jesus as Lord. They are asking for many more this year!

2. Funds for ongoing monthly needs at Minh's House of Hope. Two more teachers and a cook are needed.

3. Ongoing evangelism from Firefall Football Challenge #5. Many players are reaching out with questions as they read the evangelistic Bibles in Burmese.



Bridge to Life & Video Interview

Our Firefall International associate in Vietnam was visiting us last month. We were sharing lunch in a restaurant on a rainy Saturday when he related a painful memory. Even though both of his parents were still living, he had been abandoned by his family. He remembered standing in the rain as a 7-year-old. With night falling he had no place to go to get out of the rain. He asked himself, “Where can I go tonight? Where can I stay?” Underneath those questions was a deeper one. “Why doesn’t my mother love me enough to take care of me?” He shed tears at our meal as the pain of that moment returned.

Over 30 years later, no one would know the heartache of abandonment he lived through. He is a loving husband and father of two. He has built a home for orphans (he was caring for 9 street children when he and his wife were married!) He is reaching out to his neighbors with the gospel through English lessons, which Firefall International is helping to sponsor there. He’s also helping to send the gospel to an unreached people group in the remote mountains of Vietnam.

The early church was faced with adversity and persecution. That caused the believers to scatter like seeds in the wind throughout Asia Minor, taking the gospel with them and planting vibrant churches as they went (Acts 8:1-4, 11:19-21).

For the early church, and for our associate, adversity was turned into opportunity. He became a bridge to life for the orphans and street children of Vietnam.

What adversity are you facing today? How can God work through it to make you a bridge to life?