Near and Dear to Our Heart - Two Egg, FL

We left Atlanta and returned to Two Egg, Fl to help them with their Easter Holiday. Let me tell you a little about these people and this Church. 

Easter outreach in Two Egg, FL

Easter outreach in Two Egg, FL

This was the very first church I pastored at when I was in Bible College. These folks love me and I love them dearly. They have become more like family to us over the years and have been faithful to pray for us and give whenever they felt the Lord was leading them to give
 
However for about a year now they have gone without a Pastor and their attendance had dwindled down to around 11 faithful believers. Lien and I felt called to take some time off from “Raising Support in order to help this small, faithful group organize an Easter outreach in their community. We held the event at one of the local parks where we were able to share the gospel with over 150 people, hand out 50 Bibles, and bless the families with over $400 worth of certificates for free food and rides at the park. God really blessed and encouraged us from it as well. We also assisted with a beautiful Easter Sunrise Service followed by a country breakfast and then, a powerful Resurrection Sunday Service. 

Outreach where we were able to share the Gospel with over 150 people and hand out over 50 Bibles.

Outreach where we were able to share the Gospel with over 150 people and hand out over 50 Bibles.

Near-&-Dear3.jpg

You know I spoke of the folks that had become very near and dear to my heart, well they are. When I was their Pastor I felt as though they were pastoring me, for I was so young in the faith and just learning the deep things of God where they have walked with God for a long time and could outwit most scholars with their Bible knowledge. They helped me to become the man I am today and they continue to invest in our life through prayer and now monthly support. This church, without a Pastor and only 11 or so regular members, made a pledge for $100 a month toward our ministry. As one person shared with me recently, “It seems as though gifts frequently pour out from the widow and her two cents.” With brothers and sisters in Christ like this, we understand “Together we are doing it.”

From left to right: Mrs. Donna Sue Jackson, Ashley Carr, Donna and Holland Braxton, Lien and Shaun, Ms. Betty Eison, and Mrs. Susan Carr   

From left to right: Mrs. Donna Sue Jackson, Ashley Carr, Donna and Holland Braxton, Lien and Shaun, Ms. Betty Eison, and Mrs. Susan Carr

 

Hitting The Ground Running

Once we arrived home, we immediately began to travel to the various churches that had agreed to let us talk about God’s work in Vietnam in an effort to raise the additional support we needed to continue with the Bible Institute.  We also had a few conferences through March, but nothing had yet been scheduled after March. So we planned on meeting our scheduled dates, while trying to arrange some additional ones. The very first Sunday we were up in Orange Park, Florida at a church plant called Watermark. Pastor Tim Larson and his wife Elisabeth were so gracious to us and we was so blessed to fellowship with them and share about all that God has done and is doing in Vietnam. The kicker is Elisabeth is from Vietnam and speaks fluent Vietnamese so we extended an open invitation for them to join us any time on the mission field. We were excited to have such a good start to our five month journey. 

Preaching the Word

Preaching the Word

 The following Sunday we were back up in Jacksonville at The Springs Church for two services and then journeyed all the way down to Lakeland at Northside Baptist Church’s evening service with Dr. Dan Yaw. What a busy, but wonderful day in the Lord it was. God really ministered to our hearts through each of the services and the generosity of both places. Dr. Yaw’s church sponsors over 36 missionaries each month. I love churches who take “To the Ends of the World” seriously. Praise God for Northside Baptist Church and all the churches that are just like it.

Visiting Churches to share how the Lord in moving in Vietnam   

Visiting Churches to share how the Lord in moving in Vietnam

 

Lien and I had the opportunity to visit several other churches in Lakeland and share about Vietnam as well as preach. One Sunday morning I was preparing to get up and share, when all of a sudden the Spirit of the Lord came upon my heart making it difficult to do anything but share the burden he put on me. It was again from the book of Philippians where the Apostle Paul said, “For me to live is Christ”. As we stood there worshipping, the Holy Spirit overwhelmed me with how hard it had been for us the last several months and how so many Pastors and Christians around the world have suffered and died for the sake of Christ, and yet here in America we attach blessing and prosperity to the Christian life. I shared how as I slept on the floor at my Father-in-law’s house in Vietnam complaining about how hot, and uncomfortable I was, the Lord told me to look over at my Father-in-law laying on the ground next to me and asked me if I was better than him, then proceeded to ask me if I was better than Jesus, “For He did not even have a place to lay His head.” Again I answered no, and began to repent for my selfish actions. As I shared with trembling I realized to “Live is Christ” is to Dream other Dreams from the American one. For Christ did not come to live in luxury and comfort, but to sacrificially love and preach the “Kingdom of God is at hand!” 

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
— Philippians 1:21
Rev. Lance Sumner and his wife Deena, pastor of the Connection Church in Jonesboro, GA

Rev. Lance Sumner and his wife Deena, pastor of the Connection Church in Jonesboro, GA

We were up in Atlanta for almost 3 weeks and we visited some wonderful Churches and awesome folks. One of those wonderful churches was the Connection Church in Jonesboro, GA. whose pastor is Rev. Lance Sumner. Pastor Lance and his wife Deena opened there arms to us real wide as if they have known us forever. It was truly a God-thing and immediately they became dear friends. The Connection Church did not hesitate to add us as one of their missionaries that they pray for and support financially ever month. We were so blessed but on top of that Pastor Lance made a commitment to come in December to Vietnam and train the National Pastors on Pastoral Care. What an amazing blessing and a shot of joy so early in our time back.

Our Arrival Home

On the plan coming back to the States after three months in Vietnam.

On the plan coming back to the States after three months in Vietnam.

We were in Vietnam for over 3 very productive months. Here are some of the highlights in terms of events and milestones while we were there:
•    Three Christmas Outreaches
•    A New Years Day Youth Rally
•    The Bible Institute opened and completed the first class
•    Nine Baptisms
•    Over 44 new believers in all

We also had a chance to celebrate the TET Holiday before we left for home to raise our support in the middle of February. Let me share a little about TET. For most, the memory of the TET Offensive during the Vietnam War is still fresh in your mind and for some TET Holiday is an unknown. TET Holiday is basically the lunar calendar New Year or in other terms, Chinese New Year. It is the largest holiday in Vietnam. Everything shuts down two weeks before and about a week and a half after. It is an incredible time of cleaning, eating, celebrating, and fellowship with family and dear friends. Also, there is exchange of MONEY! If you are younger than another person that person has to give you what is called in English “Lucky Money”. It is just a symbolic gift to start off the New Year with blessing and hopes it leads to a very prosperous remaining year.  We went with the Church to visit families and pray with them and their families. It was a wonderful time.

We left just a couple days following the holiday and our hearts were heavy with the thought of leaving all our family and friends in Vietnam, but knew we needed to get back to the States to raise the support we needed to continue the word we have been called to do.  As we were preparing to leave I was having some health issues that seemed to be an attack from the Enemy. So I locked the door in our little room and started to pray and ask God to remove it and strengthen me. As I prayed, He spoke to me a Bible verse - Philippians 4:19 - which says “My God shall supply all of your needs.” I read it and began to weep as I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Paul’s God is your God, and it is your God who will meet all of your needs.” I erupted in worship and prayer and called for Lien to come in and pray with me as I shared with her what the Lord had just spoke to my heart. With all of the uncertainty as we were leaving swirling around our hearts and minds one thing we were assured of, “Our God will meet all of our needs.”

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 4:19

Bible Institute Opens!

he group arrives to help teach our first classes at the Bible Institute. From Left to right: Dr. Dan Yaw, Dr. Dan Lewis, Mrs. Long, Dr. Ron Long, Shaun and Lien.

he group arrives to help teach our first classes at the Bible Institute. From Left to right: Dr. Dan Yaw, Dr. Dan Lewis, Mrs. Long, Dr. Ron Long, Shaun and Lien.

For some who are not aware of our call to Vietnam, I will take a moment to clarify it and explain the process in which we have become missionaries to this special land at this special time. I have gone back and forth to Vietnam for several years and the Lord had impressed upon me years ago that the most significant thing that is lacking at this time here in Vietnam is adequate Bible Training for Pastors and Leaders. Then in 2012 the Lord called my wife and I to move here as full-time missionaries to offer the training needed. As I laid the calling down before the Lord, I really wanted to understand clearly what it was He was calling us to. So here it is.
 
One of the main purposes of SALM67 Ministries is to establish a Bible College/Bible Institute that eventually will be entirely operated by Vietnamese pastors. The Lord has supernaturally provided the land and facilities as well as the curriculum through a partnership with BTCP. In
addition, Luther Rice Seminary has committed its help in teaching the curriculum and will offer a certificate of graduation to all students. Our very first class was scheduled to start in mid-January, and to show their support, a team from Luther Rice came over to help us get the institute off to a great start. What an incredible blessing it was to have this team travel nearly 36 hours to be with us - in good shape and ready to teach!

Dr. Ron Long, the missions director at Luther Rice University and Seminary.

Dr. Ron Long, the missions director at Luther Rice University and Seminary.

Dr. Dan Yaw (Pastor of Northside Baptist Church, Lakeland, FL)

Dr. Dan Yaw (Pastor of Northside Baptist Church, Lakeland, FL)

Our first day Dr. Ron Long, the missions director at Luther Rice and our key contacty for our partnership with the university, opened up the session with a word on behalf of the Seminary and the Lord. It was a powerful message that spoke of how the Word of God should be lived out in the life of the pastor. Dr. Dan Yaw (Pastor of Northside Baptist Church, Lakeland, FL), Dr. Dan Lewis (Chairman and Advisor for IAGM) and myself were the teachers for the first session on Hermeneutics - the study of how to properly read and study the word of God
 
As we taught through the three full days of the first session, it was amazing to watch the students hang on to every word from the mouths of their professors. In most schools and in most classes, students would be dropping off as the material they were studying became more difficult, but that was not the case here. We have a total of 20 pastors and leaders officially registered for this first class of the Institute, but on the first day more than 30 students showed up and by the last day, there were 36 students total. The additional people were coming just because they loved hearing the Word of God and learning how to read and study the Word of God. Just a testimony on how the Lord is moving on the hearts of the people here.
     
I had the honor of teaching the class on the Power of God’s word and it was amazing to be able to pour into the people of God the understanding of just how powerful God’s Word is and how important it is to preach that word accurately.This truth is well illustrated in this passage from Hebrews.

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
— Hebrews 4:12

I spoke about how His word penetrates the hearts of those who hear it and how it causes a response. The author of Hebrews says, the Word is alive, it is active, it is sharp, it pierces and it judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. When it is properly studied and powerfully preached, it causes some amazing things to take place in the life and heart of those who hear it.

Shaun teaching on the power of God's Word.

Shaun teaching on the power of God's Word.

The next three days we spent walking the students through their text books on how to read, study and apply the powerful word of God in their life and ministries. We believe whole heartedly this is the beginnings of a dream come true. 

The entire group from our first session. 

The entire group from our first session. 

Preaching and the Power of Worship

Preaching God's Word.

Preaching God's Word.

We have been so blessed to have been able to preach almost every Sunday since we have been back in Vietnam. Pastor Cuoc and Pastor Hai have been so gracious in allowing us to use their pulpit week in and week out in order to share the word of the Lord. For those who know me, know that preaching is my absolute favorite thing to do. I know we are here to train Pastors and Leaders and I am fully aware that I should not be too involved with the daily routines of the Church, but I just can’t help it. I love the Church and I love giving the Lord’s Church a word from God. Not only am I allowed to preach sometimes up to 4 times a week, but there is always a response. People are coming to know the Lord at almost every service we have. It is an amazing thing to show up for worship services and spend 45 minutes before it starts with those who have never before heard the Gospel. Then they stay for Church and when the invitation is givrn, they respond to it by surrendering their life to the Lord. It is a powerful thing to watch God move in the life of these folks and in His body the Church. Up to this point there have been 43 professions of faith in Christ. Hallelujah! Jesus declared that, “if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32)

The Holy Spirit at work in Vietnam

The Holy Spirit at work in Vietnam

My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
— 2 Chronicles 7:14

In America it is said the Church is declining and it is so obvious in the ways we see the lack of the Church's influence on society. It appears as though we have thought it best to conform to the likes and image of this generation so we would be attractive to them. What has happened is the Word of God has been compromised and Holiness has been pushed out of the way, leaving the Church of Jesus powerless in an evil day. Not so here, for God is still in the redemption business and it is so evident weekly and even daily. “Why is the Lord moving in such a powerful way here”, one might ask. I believe it is attributed to the daily morning prayer meetings at 5:30am that awakens the dawn with a cry to the living God to come down. The Church daily praises and lifts up the name of Jesus collectively and it simply overflows into power in every area of their being. For they are just crazy enough to trust God’s Word. 

New Years Day Celebration

New Year's Day Event with the Youth Group at the beach

New Year's Day Event with the Youth Group at the beach

New Years Day is already upon us. It is so hard to believe that 2013 is all in the past. I praise God for the dramatic changes that have taken place in my life and in our ministry this past year. This past year presented a lot of ups and downs. I was able to experience some amazing gains in relationships and opened doors and yet experience some amazing loses in loved ones and closed doors. However throughout it all, I realized the hand of God upon my life and my family. Truly He is my Shepherd. 

To celebrate the New Year, we had an amazing time of worship with the church youth group. It started out as an encouragement to the youth group on how to live in harmony as the body of Christ, but it ended up being much more. Several young people who had never heard the gospel before showed up and took part in fellowship. At the close of the message, the youth gathered in small groups to pray for each other for the New Year.  These small groups gave the Christian youth an opportunity to share the Lord with the non-Christians, and as a result at least 2 prayed to receive Christ into their hearts. 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
— John 13:34

It was wonderful time in the Lord and a great way to start off the New Year. Jesus reminded His disciples of this.

Update on Central Vietnam Outreach

Ministering to House Churches in Central Vietnam

Ministering to House Churches in Central Vietnam

We heard from the Pastors in Central Vietnam that with the food supplies, gift bags and Bibles we had sent earlier in the month, they were able to minister to so many people, the majority of whom had never even been to church. They went out to eight different House Churches around the region, where four people prayed to receive the Lord and over 60 attended Church, hearing for the first time in their life about a loving Messiah who came to bring them Salvation. The Pastors reported back with such jubilee because they had been given the resources to help some very needy people.  We just praise the Lord!

Handing out food supplies to those in need in Central Vietnam

Handing out food supplies to those in need in Central Vietnam

Christmas Eve Services

Christmas Eve Services

Christmas Eve Services

The excitement of Christmas here in Vietnam is not for presents, toys, or something that you really could never use, but it is for the opportunity to openly share the Gospel with someone. As Christmas approached, we were saw so many people make decisions for the Lord, it was as if the door to reap the harvest of souls had been propped open. This trend continued into our Christmas Eve services. There were about 150 in attendance and so many came who had never been to Church before or heard of Jesus and the Good News He offers. The youth had been preparing for months for this service and they did a wonderful job clearly presenting the Gospel message and the Christmas story. We also had a Korean missionary, who has been in Vietnam for almost 15 years, preach the gospel message and the outcome was tremendous. There were 11 who prayed to receive Christ on this night. 

Distributing gifts and candy after the service.

Distributing gifts and candy after the service.

During the invitation, the Christians that brought their friends or family members gently come to them and share the Gospel clearly to them again and ask if they wanted to make a decision. As the invitation was being given, one person walked up immediately, then a little boy who had been sharing Christ with his friend came up along with his friend to receive Christ. I looked across the room as so many believers were sharing with so many of their friends. The youth pastor who had been witnessing to all the construction workers at the Church was talking to one of them and his family. The man finally gave in and came forward and as he came to the front he clapped and celebrated as he was so excited. His whole family joined along and Pastor Cuoc gave an amazing example saying, “Today you are not only working on the Father’s house, but now you will live in His house for ever.” So many started coming up to make a decision and as I looked around I saw an elderly woman holding a little girl's hand. I could see the desire for a new life in her eyes as she looked upon the altar call. I wondered why no one was speaking to her and asking her to go up, then I grabbed her hand and pointed to the front, with teary eyes she shook her head yes. I began to walk her up front to the altar and she just passed me as she held the little girl’s hand oh so tight as they gave their hearts to Jesus. 
    
Following the services we were able to hand out a DVD of the entire Bible to almost everyone. A brother in the Lord and his wife donated 100 DVDs for us to hand out and they were an awesome blessing to so many. We accompanied that with a brand new New Testament Bible and bags of candy for the kids. What an awesome time in the Lord! 

A Powerful Start to Christmas Week

From a good thing to a God thing
— Matthew 1:19-24

This year as we prepared for several different outreach events, we became excited to see something we have not yet seen in this area before - Christmas trees, lights, decorations, and even Santa outfits. We thought for sure this would be the best holiday outreach yet because so many have become interested in the Christmas holiday. The Sunday prior to Christmas, we had an amazing outpouring of God’s presence upon our hearts as I ministered through the Word of God. God had laid upon my heart a message concerning Joseph. Here is a little taste of it. 

Shaun and Lien Miles, Christmas in Vietnam

Shaun and Lien Miles, Christmas in Vietnam

Joseph was engaged to Mary. Package deal. The Lord favored her to bring forth His son into the world. Future Wife goes away and comes back pregnant. Let us be real, this is 99.999% of the time bad news. Joseph was going to do a good thing, by divorcing her quietly but God interrupted and wanted him to do a God thing. Big difference sometimes between a good thing and a God thing. The difference is revelation from God concerning His word in your life. Let us look at the differences in Joseph's life between a good thing and a God thing

How will you be able to tell when you have transformed situtions in your life from a good thing to a God thing. In Joseph's life, it became all about the Savior and not him. Joseph is mentioned only one other time after Jesus's birth and it was when Jesus was in the temple preaching and His parents came looking for Him. The rest of his life is relatively unknown, but the decision he made to make a good thing into a God thing made it all about Jesus. When you think of Joseph, you think of Jesus the Savior of the world, That is a God thing! Can that be said about you? When people think of you do they immediately think JESUS?

When we finished preaching, the invitation was given to those being moved by the Lord to come and make the good things in their life God things.  We also encourage those who did not know the Lord to come and pray to receive Him as Lord and Savior. The response was amazing.  Truly the Lord is moving in this place. 

Early Christmas Present

One of the best gifts I have ever received. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your constant provision.

One of the best gifts I have ever received. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your constant provision.

Growing up poor in America you learn to do without so much including cable TV, telephone, the occasional meal, etc., but you always had the little things you never noticed. After coming back and forth to Vietnam over 11 times I realized how blessed I was growing up. We always had a bed and pillows when I was little. We for the most part had electricity, furniture, and clean running water. We even had dressers to put all of our clothes in. After being in a 3rd world country for some time you realize you are truly 95% richer the majority of the world. Living like they live has a tendency to wear on you. We have no furniture, no central A/C, no sanitary septic system, but you know that even though it is hard it is worth it. After a while however you begin to not miss the things that lavish a western home, but the things that go unnoticed. After several years of simply laying my books and Bibles on the floor, tonight I have this little wooden night stand that serves as the best source of material comfort I have ever known.  No electronic gadget, nor Christmas morn toy has ever brought as much joy into this heart as this little piece of furniture that millions of Americans will not even notice as they leave their houses today. This night tucked away in this small fishing village in South Vietnam, this missionary is HAPPY to have a taste of home. Truly "The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want for nothing".

Preparing the Pastors for Their Harvest

Rice fields in Vietnam ready for harvest

Rice fields in Vietnam ready for harvest

In a nation that is completely littered with rice fields, the harvest time comes in several different seasons. From what I have observed, however, the largest harvest season is the one we are in right now. As I ride Pastor Hai’s moto-bike around to different events, I have watched as these vast fields of green grass, like blades, stretch toward the sky. It is a beautiful sight to behold when the wind is gently blowing upon it, causing the blades of grass to sway to and fro. I have watched this past month as these bright green blades begin to turn light brown, a sign that they are ready for harvest. Just last week as I was riding to a near-by city, I watched as the reapers were coming through with their tools, machines and livestock to gather what they have sown. What a beautiful sight to anyone who has ever seen the laborers reaping their rewards. So it is in this Season of Christmas across this nation. It is time for the laborers to reap their Harvest. 
     
After Typhoon Haiyan went through the Philippines, it was headed right toward Central Vietnam. What most people do not know is that at that time Central Vietnam was already experiencing severe flooding. In one of the poorest areas of this poor nation, any type of natural disaster is catastrophic in nature due to the fact that the people live in shed-like houses and eke out a meager living from their farms and rice fields. So when the flood hit, it wiped out all of their crops and put them in a bad spot for weeks to come. Then along came the Typhoon headed right for them. The largest storm ever recorded in history was about to make land fall when all of a sudden it turned sharp north and completely missed the region. The only effects Central Vietnam received from the storm were rain and of course it was the one thing the area really did not need. 

Christmas Outreach heading to Central Vietnam

Christmas Outreach heading to Central Vietnam

So just like the fields that were turning shades to give an indication that it was the time for the harvest, so it was for the people of God. We needed to act and to act fast. We were able to partner with two Pastors in the region and gave them the necessary supplies to go meet the needs of the affected people. They were able to go and share the Gospel with them as they gave them 10-lb bags of rice that would feed their family for about 14 days. They then began to share with them that they would be offering more assistance to them, their friends, and other family members who are in need this Christmas. They were invited to come and partake in the Christmas celebration, which included the presentation of the Gospel, after which they would receive their gifts, supplies, food, and a New Testament Bible.  

We raised support to send to these pastors 50 food bags for 50 families, and 100 gift bags for their Children along with 320 New Testament Bibles. Working together with the National Pastors we will be able to reap a harvest for the Lord this Christmas and truly it will be the largest Harvest season to date. 

Experiencing theTrue Meaning of Christmas

Christmas_Kids.jpg

Christmas for so many will come and go and the only thing that has been altered is their bank account and blood pressure. However here in Vietnam, the Church has seen fit to use the Christmas season as an opportunity to reach those who have never heard the Gospel. We were able to participate in one of these events last week due to the kindness of several Korean business men, who live and work in Saigon, and donated gifts and goodie bags to the Church to distribute.

The Church saw this as a great opportunity to spread the message about Christ and His birth and was able to get approval from the local authorities to have a public outreach. Over 200 people showed up who had never previously been to Church or even heard the Gospel message. The Lord really blessed that night with a mighty showing of His gospel in many forms from dance routines, dramas, song, and the preaching of His word. It was an amazing time of Christ-centered outreach that blessed the people in every area. It was estimated that 30 people or so prayed to receive Christ at the invitation.

After the event, we were able to hand out the over 200 bags (donated by the Korean businessmen) consisting of food, shampoo, toothpaste, tooth brushes, flip-flops, silver ware, soap, back packs, and candy.  It was truly a blessing to all of us to see the kids running around as though it was Christmas morning, and the adults looking through their bags in total disbelief over generousisy of any individual. 

I have been blessed to be in ministry for over 12 years and I can remember some amazing times from the Christmas celebrations I have seen over the years, especially when we were blessing those who are less fortunate. I remember the trip to the projects that first Christmas when I was a youth pastor and seeing God do some miraculous things in the life of the youth group and those to whom we ministered. I remember going to Mexico and seeing extreme poverty like I have never seen before and watching God bring true joy in the midst of it. I remember year in and year out as a Pastor giving away Christmas toys for hundreds of families in our area and sharing the gospel with everyone of them. I will also remember this one. For it never ceases to amaze me how rich the Gospel message is when it is accompanied by generous love. When the Maker is honored the power of the Holy Spirit is welcomed, and when He is welcomed much is accomplished. Read this from Proverbs:

Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.
— Proverbs 14:31

The Hair Dresser Receives Christ

The day she heard the Gospel for the first time, she prayed to receive Christ.  That night, she also took down all the idols she had in her house, vowing to serve the One True God.

The day she heard the Gospel for the first time, she prayed to receive Christ.  That night, she also took down all the idols she had in her house, vowing to serve the One True God.

It never ceases to be a blessing to me when I have the priviledge of witnessing first-hand how the Lord leads another person to Himself, for it is usually done in such a miraculous way.  In Vietnam it is a custom for the ladies to go to the beauty shop once or twice a week to get their hair washed, head massaged and be generally pampered. The cost is around $1 USD so it is something the ladies can afford to do and actually need to do after working hard all week. My wife decided to join her aunt one afternoon for one of these special treats. 
 
As they arrived, the young lady who has just opened her shop was in great dismay. She began explaining to my wife that she just met this man on the internet from America and he began telling her about this Jesus who is the One who created her and had a plan for her life. My wife said, “Yes, this is right. God does love you and He does have a plan for your life and it is found only in Jesus Christ.” So for about two hours she asked Lien questions as Lien eplained about the Gospel. Lien suggested that she go out with us that night to drink coffee, so she could hear more about the Gospel. Lien returned home to share with me her experience and our plans for the night. 

We went to our favorite coffee shop to talk with her and I simply began with just how awesome God is and how awesome His love is for us. I walked right down the tracks of how one could become a child of God through faith in Jesus. I asked if she would like to place her faith in Jesus and pray to begin her relationship with Him as His child. She agreed and right there, in our favorite coffee shop, as the place was closing, she prayed to make Jesus Lord of her life. As soon as she finished praying, she asked if I could take down the Buddhas from her house. She had been a Buddha worshipper her whole life and had never heard the Gospel until earlier in that day. Once she prayed to receive Jesus into her heart, she knew she was only going to serve the One True God and needed to get rid of the idols she had erected in her unbelief. The Apostle Paul explains it like this: 

This is the Gospel itself, which has reached you as it spreads out all over the world. Wherever that gospel goes, it produces Christian character, and develops it, as it has done in your own case from the time you first heard and realized the truth of God’s grace.
— 1 Thessalonians 2:13

A Powerful Divine Appointment

One afternoon Lien and I were visiting Church members who had not been to Church in a while, as well a those who had been hurt or who simply wanted us to come and pray with them. This was an amazing afternoon for the Lord and He truly gave us some divine appointments. One of them was so powerful that I thought I should share it with you. 

A couple, who are leaders in the Church, had asked a while back if we could pray that the Lord provide them the ability to buy the land next to them so they could build a new house. We did pray and the Lord answered our prayers.  So they bought the land and started building their new house. Following the example of those who had been sharing the Gospel with the people building the new Church, they began to share with those who were building their new house. When we had arrived that afternoon to pray with them, they asked that we pray for the workers to receive Christ, for they had been sharing with them for weeks. We did pray and, well, as the Lord has a tendency of doing, He answered our prayers.

This couple shared the Gospel with those building their new house.  Two workers were led to the Lord as a result!

This couple shared the Gospel with those building their new house.  Two workers were led to the Lord as a result!

Once we finished praying with the couple, the woman went and asked the workers to come and hear the Gospel once more. As the men came and stood before us, I asked one of them for his name and he replied “Cuong”. Lien said, “It means Strength” so I began sharing with him how we think we are so strong and we are able to handle all that life gives to us. But then things start to happen. We loose our jobs, we don’t have food, we loose loved ones, our bodys get ill, and we soon realize that we are not “Strong (Cuong)” at all but actually we are weak and in need of help. I stepped right into the Gospel about how we cannot save ourselves, but God, who is All Powerful, has offered us salvation. I asked if he wanted to be saved by this strong God today and he immediately said, yes. 

After we prayed and congratulated them on their decision to receive the Lord Jesus as their God, they left to go home. The woman began to share with us that Cuong was once a school teacher, but fell into trouble and lost everything. He had became very poor and even spoke out loud several times while working on their house, “What is the use living, I would be better off dead.” Little did I know that he who thought he was “Strong” actually had become very weak due to his troubles, but God knew and rescued him.

The Struggle To Be Comfortable

Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
— Matthew 8:20

Jesus said that the very things He created had places to call their own but He didn't. The life of the Son of man was not focused on the things of this life that we think of as important, so much so that He lived without His own house or home. When He was to come into this world His mother and father knew of this feeling, for "there was no room for him in the inn." (Luke 2:7) Jesus did not even have something of His own, He was even "rejected by those who were suppose to be His own."(John 1:11) Think about this for a moment. Let it not escape you. The Lord (Boss) of All creation, no wait not just The Lord, but the One who brought forth all creation by the sound of His voice and the work of His hand. He had not a home, He was not accepted by His own people. 

We like to think that Jesus was loved by everyone, fun to be around and the life of the party. If we were in school, He would have been the odd man out so to speak. Isaiah the Prophet declared this characteristic about the coming messiah, "He has no stately form of majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of SORROWS, and acquainted with GRIEF". (Isaiah 53:2-3) This tells me that it was Prophesied about Jesus to have a difficult life, a life of not just knowing SORROWS, but a man who had gone through so much it became His identity. It is a cop out to downplay what Jesus endured and encountered during His time here on earth by saying "Well He is God, and I am not." 

I sit in this foreign country where I am unfamiliar with the customs, language and way of life and I am frustrated and starting to become bitter. We are staying at a Pastor's house who is also my father-in-law. It is nearly the polar opposite of the kind of comfort I grew accustomed to in the US. There are lots of kids who come in and out, there are family friends who stop by and act as though they live there. What is mine is yours in this society and I am not used to it. It is nothing to step out of my room to use the restroom and find some people laying on the ground that I have never seen before. It has just thrown me for a loop. It is one thing to share a house with someone, but to constantly share with someone you have never met and yet are suppose to welcome them and treat them like they are your little brother, or older aunt. It is tough. Not only that, but they ignore you simply because you don't known their language, and they don't know yours. Hard, lonely, uneasy and uncomfortable. 

I began to think that I would like to have a couch; I would like to have A/C; I would like to have a room set aside for a office, or a western style bathroom, I would like to have a yard with some privacy; I think I would like to have my own house. As I pondered these feelings I began to think about how hard it is on me, not only ministry-wise, but in my daily living activities. Anger, frustration, and even evil thoughts (Whatever is not in line with God's heart) began to set in and come out. I needed to pray so I grabbed my Bible and asked to be helped and shown freedom from this and maybe experience some sort of comfort. I opened to 2 Peter 1 and read the following:

Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
— 2 Peter 1:4

He has given us precious promises so that we can partake in the divine nature and escape the lust for the things of this world. Truly to be Godly is to know that your God was a man of Sorrows, He understands, and desires you, even though you may endure sorrow, to still be focused, and holy. Not falling into the trap that the flesh sets up as a way to ensnare us to the things of this world. The desire to be comfortable flees once we realize that He became so uncomfortable to bring us to Him and that, if even for a season, it is ok for us to become the same. For we will be in great company.

The Construction Workers Receive Christ

New church building and the construction crew.

New church building and the construction crew.

The work on the new Church has continued and progressed by leaps and bounds in the two months that it has been under construction.  The Church decided to hire professional workers for the task of doing this monumental job instead of entrusting it to the members who had little or no experience. With that said, several of the members still show up daily to help where ever they can and at the same time to share the Gospel with those who are doing the work. 

One of the church building crew receives Christ.

One of the church building crew receives Christ.

Our first Sunday back, the man who is in charge of the construction work decided to show up to the worship services to see what it was all about. Well, during the invitation when about 15 Church members came forward, he responded with a desire to meet Jesus for the first time. He came down and was lead to the Lord by Pastor Hai, and Pastor Cuoc. He has since been to every service since his decision and his countenance has been dramatically changed.