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Building Churches in Southeast Asia, Soul by Soul

February 9, 2017

People building a church in Vietnam.
Indigenous missionaries construct church building in remote area of Vietnam.

Young parents from Vietnam's Central Highlands were on their way to a children's hospital in Ho Chi Minh City to see if doctors could help her 2-year-old daughter to walk. Born with bent feet, Mai could not even stand.

A year earlier, the family had traveled from Dak Lak Province to Ho Chi Minh City, but doctors had been unable to help the baby. Trying again last fall, the couple decided to stop first at the home office of an indigenous ministry in southern Vietnam's principal city. A pastor trained by the native ministry prayed for Mai.

He then asked the senior pastor of the couple's church, along with five other Hmong pastors who were attending his training, to pray with him, he said.

"The next day, while the husband, his wife and their daughter were at a children's hospital waiting for their appointment, for the first time in Mai's life she was able to walk about one meter with the help of her parents," the pastor said. "They were so happy that God had begun to heal their daughter that they cancelled the appointment, took Mai back to the head office and asked us to continue to pray for her."

The next morning, Mai was able to walk from one end of the bed to the other, supporting herself with one hand on a wall. Her parents asked the pastors attending the training session to pray for her one more time before they began the long trip back to Dak Lak Province. Two days later, they informed their pastor that Mai was 70 percent healed.

"Not long after that, Mai was able to stand, walk and run like a normal child," the pastor said. "Hallelujah! This is a great miracle, that God healed a girl with a birth defect in her feet."

News of the healing helped to strengthen and grow the church in the southeastern part of the province, the pastor said. The indigenous ministry that trained him has sent teams to help spread faith in Christ in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The call to heal has led to another spontaneous outreach, as the indigenous ministry leader's wife has begun sharing the gospel with patients in cancer treatment hospitals.

She has found that patients who respond to the gospel are more open to receiving prayer for healing, the director said.

"In Hanoi there are four cancer hospitals, and the ministry had one worker there who in two days saw 50 people receive Christ," the director said. "The people are typically in the hospital for two weeks, and the ministry workers try to follow up with them afterwards."

Typically the patients' families spend most of their time in the hospital to help care for them, so they too hear the gospel, he said. Conditions in the hospitals are such that frequently there are two patients per bed, as well as two under each bed, he said.

"The hallways are filled with people, everything is dirty, and the family has to provide their food," he said. "In Ho Chi Minh City there are two cancer hospitals, but they are now building a very large one."

The director would like to find supporters to pray for and support two evangelists working in cancer treatment hospitals at $75 a month each - $50 each in income, and $25 each for the costs of phoning and follow-up with patients who have been released from the hospital.

Workers provide memory sticks that contain follow-up materials and the Bible in the Vietnamese and Khmer languages for those who have put their faith in Christ. The director said workers need 200 memory sticks per month ($2 each) as well as a lesser number of MP3, eight-gigabyte players ($8 each). Eventually they hope to provide the audio materials to the largely illiterate patients in the Hmong, Koho and Ede languages.

"Typically the tribal mountain people have been open to the gospel, but the Vietnamese people in the lowlands and the cities have been resistant," he said. "In the hospitals, 30 percent of people are tribal and 70 percent are Vietnamese. The ministry is excited, because this is a way of reaching both the ethnic groups and the Vietnamese with the gospel."

Unnamed for security reasons, the ministry has brought the gospel to ethnic groups in more than 1,000 communities of three countries. Some of the ethnic groups, such as the Jarai, are also present in Cambodia, where the ministry has brought word of Christ's saving power to 106 communities. It has also reached 67 communities in Laos.

One area that has been especially resistant to the gospel is Vinh City, on Vietnam's North Central Coast in Nghe An Province. One of the ministry's pastors was killed there last year when a car veered into him. The ministry leader went to console the bereft congregation, said Christian Aid Mission Southeast Asia Director Stephen Van Valkenburg.

Guardian Spirit statue in Vietnam.
Animistic figure formed as "guardian spirit" of ethnic Jarai tomb in Kon Tum Province in Vietnam's Central Highlands, on border with Cambodia and Laos. (Photo Credit: rdavout, Wikipedia)

"He asked for a replacement, and 30 men volunteered, even though it is a very hard place to minister," he said. "Now there are 12 other churches in the area."

Non-Christian relatives of the church members were angry, saying, "If God is a big God, why would He allow this to happen?" One possible answer came when the mother of the driver who struck the pastor, surprised that there was no lawsuit and that the congregation forgave her son, came to the church.

"She saw the love of the people towards her, and so she believed in Christ," Van Valkenburg said. "A month after the accident, the driver, his wife and 6-year-old daughter came to church, but they have not yet believed. Please continue to pray for this church, and pray that this driver and his family would come to know the Lord Jesus."

To help indigenous missionaries to meet needs, you may contribute online using the form below, or call (434) 977-5650. If you prefer to mail your gift, please mail to Christian Aid Mission, P.O. Box 9037, Charlottesville, VA 22906. Please use Gift Code: 740VHM. Thank you!


SC: MIR