I just had a meeting with a new friend from Vietnam. I was trying to be nice so I told Luong (his name is Luong) that I had never met a person from Vietnam that I didn’t like and that I think that he comes from a great country. He thanked me for my kindness and then corrected me. “Vietnam” he said “is not a great country. We are a great people but we are not a great country. Vietnam is a county that is suffering. We lived for 1000 years under Chinese rule, for 100 years under French rule and for 40 years under Japanese rule. Then we lost our war against communism. Now my people are persecuted under communist rule. After the war over a million of us who spoke out against communism died in prison! Then another million died at sea seeking to get away from communist rule. They got in little boats and tried to paddle away!” Luong said to me. Luong is a follower of Jesus. He said that followers of Jesus have always been marked for persecution by totalitarianism. But in spite of years of oppression, the number of Jesus followers in Vietnam continues to grow. I asked Luong how he dealt with the persecutions he has experienced as a follower of Jesus. “We see persecution as normal and as an opportunity to draw closer to God. When we are persecuted we see the power and wisdom of God.” Then Luong said something incredible. “In the middle of all this suffering and persecution of my people I feel at peace. I have peace! Why? Why do I feel such peace? I don’t know why. What I do know is that God gives His children peace in the midst of persecutions. I’m not a brave man. Only God could give me peace like this.”
I asked Luong why he thought that some Americans are gradually shifting their sympathies toward a more State controlled society. Luong said this “I invite those who think that more collectivism might be good for America to come to Vietnam and LIVE UNDER communism (emphasis his). When they do, they will then understand why my people get in those tiny boats to flee communism. Knowing that they have a 90% chance of dying they still try to escape. Why do they paddle to get away, knowing that they may die – really die? They do it because they KNOW what it is like to live under communism.”
I invite you to join Luong in seeking the face of God through Jesus Christ. I invite you to enjoy, appreciate and to use your freedom of religion, assembly, petition and speech that we enjoy as Americans. Luong and I prayed together before we parted. Luong prayed aloud in Vietnamese. I prayed aloud in Portuguese. God joined there with us both. It was a beautiful thing.