You helped us raise the funds required to send over 100 needy children to school for a year. Thank you for your faithfulness.Read More
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.
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.
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!”
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.
Before we left to come back state-side, we were able to baptize nine new believers who had completed the New Believer’s Class. There are 35 people in the current class who will be ready for baptism soon. What a glorious day in the Lord that will be!
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)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Prayer is a fundamental practice for the believer and it should be the same for the Church. If it is the basic form for a Christian to hear from God, know God and have the ability to follow God, then why would it not be so for the whole Church? We know every powerful Church one could imagine has made it a collective effort to join together regularly in prayer. The Church here has this understanding of what it is going to take to penetrate this dark nation.
Every morning we meet at 5:30 am to seek the face of God in worship, short devotion and time of prayer. When we were here at the start of the summer, there were around 15 people that showed up every morning. Now because the Church is growing at such a rate, the morning prayer meetings have nearly doubled in attendance. It is an amazing time that is also scriptural. Listen to this writer of the Psalm.
The author of the Psalm said that the dawn would come to being with him being in the midst of others singing and giving thanks unto the Lord. I watch every morning as the sun breaks forth the dawn while we are gathered together singing and giving thanks to the Lord. The Lord has a way of giving you joy, and all of the other qualities that come with being with Him, when being with Him is your number one desire. The Church is seeing a powerful movement of God in a nation that has been closed and is still closed to the gospel. God has given us a open door that is not found anywhere else in the Nation. People are hearing the gospel and coming to know the Lord on a daily basis. It is a remarkable move of God. People are not just being saved, but they are tearing down the idols of foreign gods from their mist. It can all be contributed to the prayer meetings that empowers the Church of the Lord to impact the nation.
It took several days to adjust to the LONG flight and huge culture shock. After coming back to Vietnam for the 11th time I realized it is not as difficult to adjust as it had been the first couple of times. We were geared up and ready to get involved. Pastor Cuoc and Pastor Hai asked us to preach that first Sunday and we were so willing and ready to do it. After being gone for almost 6 months it was nice to be back.
As I always do I laid my heart before the Lord concerning the message He would have us share and He said Matthew 11:1. After I read it, I really thought I had had incorrectly heard Him because it was a simple verse that is often overlooked. So, when I asked Him again I was surely expecting a different response, but to my dismay He said, Matthew 11:1 again. Let me share it with you,
When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities.
Jesus had just meet with His disciples whom He had given authority to go and preach the good news, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead and cast out demons. The Bible said after He finished instructing them, He went out with them into their cities to preach and teach. He was with them and gave them what they needed to go and when they went He went also. This is an underlying truth that is found throughout the New Testament. Being with Jesus is the first priority and going with Jesus is the result.
That short verse that is usually skipped holds the keys to Kingdom living. I used Martha and Mary as an example of how being with Jesus should take priority over everything else. The Bible says, “Martha was distracted with all her preparations.” (Luke 10:40) The word distracted means she was pulled away from what was truly important. This happens in our life almost daily. I also referred to Jesus’s own words in Matthew 6 where He said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” I also referenced Acts 13:2 where it says, “While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Before they were able to go out with the Lord, they had to first be with Him.
Well, I preached this message with Lien translating and as it drew to a close, I thought for sure it was a bust, but all of a sudden I felt the blanket of the Holy Spirit just cover the place. I can’t explain it but if you have ever preached and given an invitation, you know what I am talking about. It was the anointing of God calling people to repent from what was dragging them away from Him. It is important to understand that in the Vietnamese culture. They are a very private, very humble people, so coming in front of people and making public decisions is not high on their list. So for the most part, they don’t respond to a invitation on a regular basis. With that said, as I opened the invitation, people were coming down to the front to repent to the Lord and to be prayed over. Simply put, “They wanted to be with Jesus, so they could leave that building and go with Jesus.” The question must be asked, “What is dragging you away from being with the Lord, so you can go with the Lord to a world that screams the need for a Savior?”
Once arrived at our final destination, we got into the full routine of worship. We attended a 5 AM prayer meeting, held daily at the Vietnamese Baptist Church and assumed that it would be just a couple of folks kneeling down silently praying. What we found was a church full of people – sometimes out the door – worshiping, studying the Bible and then pouring their hearts out in prayer to the Lord for a full hour of worship. We looked forward to this daily time of prayer and praise and saw what power there was in spending that time with the Lord – certainly a contributing factor to the revival that is happening in this area We were asked by the Pastor to teach every morning and we were able to do that almost daily. The first week or so we taught through the Gospel of John and the “Role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer”, and the following weeks we taught on “Spiritual gifts” as found in 1 Corinthians 11:7-11. The Lord really used these lessons to clarify some mis-understandings, but also to stir the hearts of those worshiping causing, all of us to seek more of Him.