We met her a little over a year after she had given up on life. She was a petite Asian with excited eyes and an exuberance that bubbled over to everyone she spoke to. I noticed the way my kids watched her expectantly, with huge smiles, while they followed her. Who was this and what had she done to so enthrall my kids only an hour after meeting them?
After stumbling upstairs on her way out through our friend's house, our paths finally collided. I sat down with this Sunday School teacher and within minutes I learned we shared a sisterhood not uncommon between those who love Jesus. One founded on more than the sharing of stories of salvation, ours became one we planned to strengthen together - her by continuing to live her calling and me by promising to continue telling others of it.
She came to the States from Vietnam as a child, her family an object of charity to a government whose soldiers have fathered thousands of children while there fighting an unpopular war. Having escaped the poverty and the darkness that oppressed so many, she vowed never to return.
With a good education and a bright future, her life became one of plenty. She found success in her career, opportunity in graduate studies, and plenty of ways to spend the riches that each brought. A life that should have brought her accomplishment and pleasure soon began to offer only hopelessness and a deepening darkness. All that she had worked for and dreamed of led her to wanting more and experiencing nightmares in return.
An effervescent personality by day, she returned home at night to her sorrowful truth of loneliness and emptiness. She began to fill her nights with what would become her only faithful friends, bottles of liquor to numb her inner pain. She saw no light in her dark religious past and no hope in a world full of people struggling to find the same. Each day a meaningless cycle, she desperately wanted to end hers.
Somewhere in the darkness, a twinkling light emerged. A friendly face spoke kindness and a concerned friend offered her a Bible. Within days, she became convinced that this God of this Book was what her heart was longing for. She cried out to Him and He answered with the Life that brought meaning and understanding, one that filled her with a Love that satisfied her every craving.
I met her only a year after her conversion. Her brilliant joy was the same that others had always noticed except this smile and hopefulness didn't dissipate with darkening skies or stay buoyed with temporary elixirs. So radical was the change that she had committed to doing the one thing she vowed she never would: return to Vietnam.
Less than two years after meeting the One she describes as the Lover she had forever desired, she is back in her home country. Her trip has no scheduled return date because this journey is to be lifelong. Burdened with her Lover's message of salvation, she wants to plant seeds of God's promise of eternal life in hearts and lives that line the dusty streets of an impoverished village.
“Bring them to me and I will plant my seed of hope in their little bodies; I will pour out my love onto their young hearts; and I will claim my ways in their tiny footsteps, and they shall bring the good news to this town.”
This is her promised blessing from a God who can do the impossible. Through the love and labor of local believers (who are themselves struggling to support their own), materials and funds are accumulating for an orphanage to house, among others, the faces of those you see above.
Would you commit this week or this month, to bring these children to God in prayer? Can you, together with those living out their calling there, answer this call to stand with them for a harvest of lives from Vietnam?
Their names are common among their own people: Pham, Mang, Nguyen, Dinh. Bring those to Jesus' ear and you'll be bringing half the population to Him! Even so, I trust He'll recognize the faces that you see while your eyes are closed in prayer! :)