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Asia Trip Part I: Going Underground in Vietnam

Feed the Hunger is blessed to work with faithful Christian partners across the globe. Several of them are in Southeast Asia, and it is a privilege to travel the long distance to meet with them. Last month, I led a small team from FtH to Vietnam and Bangladesh to see firsthand how God is using your gifts through His Holy Spirit to do amazing things for His kingdom. I want to share my trip with you, so buckle your seatbelts and join me as we travel halfway around the world . . . .

Following a very smooth 22-hour-plus flight from Raleigh, NC, we arrived in Saigon, Vietnam, around 1:30 in the morning. After a few delays due to visa and luggage issues (one bag of toys for the orphan home was a day late!), we made it through customs. Pastor Moses, our primary ministry contact in Vietnam, met us at the airport and drove us to the hotel around 2:30 a.m. He told us that we had four hours to sleep before he was to pick us up and take us to a worship service of about 125 underground church members. We showered, changed clothes, shut our eyes for a few minutes, and then out the door we went. The meeting room was packed with people sitting on the floor worshiping, singing songs, and listening to Scripture being read out loud.

We followed the lead of our partner and took our shoes off outside the entrance door. With hundreds of shoes piled up, I was a little concerned that I would never find my shoes again! But, like in all the places we visited in Vietnam, my shoes were always there waiting for me. As special foreign guests, we were ushered to plastic chairs up front. After a couple of songs we realized that by us sitting in the chairs we were blocking all the people sitting on the floor behind us, so we slowly eased our way to the right side of the room, out of the way of the hundreds behind us.

Faithful Christian believers in the underground church worshiping during three days of fasting and prayer.

The room was packed, with no air conditioning and no open windows. Several fans hung from the dark ceiling. It was very difficult to get even a small breeze, but what a blessing it was to be in a room with all these godly men and women. The meeting lasted four hours—yes, four hours! We were exhausted and extremely hot, yet so glad that we were a part of this wonderful service.

Each month, pastors and lay people from 10 churches come together for three days of fasting and praying, and this was their last meeting for the month. These people take off from work and school and gather together in very intense worship. Hands are raised and eyes are closed tightly as they sing songs of praise. At the end of this three-day meeting of fasting and praying, sandwiches and drinks were served. Everyone was filled with joy and thanksgiving for God’s blessings that were upon them.

After the service and dripping wet from the heat, we headed over to Moses’s house for a meal. The last time Pastor Moses was in the US, he told us his house was small. Well, he was right! I would guess his entire house is about the size of four standard office cubicles. Amazing! There were about 10 people eating in the living room/dining room area—standing and sitting. The food was good; not spicy, and always with chopsticks.

More than 100 orphans have found a home and hope in God. We are honored to help these precious children in Jesus’ Name!

A couple of days later, we drove three hours to visit the orphan home that we have financially supported for some time. Though located in a remote jungle area, the facility is very nice. The children are beautiful and extremely friendly, not at all hesitant about foreigners in their home. The orphan home compound contained a large kitchen and dining area, clean rooms with bunk beds lining the walls, a church where the locals join the orphans for Sunday service, a large duck coop, and bathrooms at the back. On the side of the compound were four large bedrooms being built, along with another, larger church under construction.

Sharing Bible stories with children at the orphanage.

We spent lots of time playing with the children, and our team shared a small program with them. There are currently 101 children living there, and in several of them you can see great sadness and heartache. Many of these children have seen their parents killed for a variety of reasons, and many have been abandoned, living on their own deep in the jungle. But now (praise the Lord!), the children are in a loving Christian home, and there is hope for each one of them.

Even though many have experienced tremendous sadness in their young lives, the children we met were so full of life!

The next morning, Moses, his wife, and the FtH crew drove to the airport around 4:45 a.m. and flew to the beautiful city of Da Nang, Vietnam. We met the pastor of the underground church there, then we headed out to have dinner with about 20 underground church members. We didn’t meet them in a home, but at a restaurant. Acting like we were at a normal dinner, our conversation around the table would be a quiet church service.

We arrived at the restaurant and were escorted to a back room. The room was full—about 25 people—mostly adults, but a few small children. The curtains were drawn to keep people from seeing in. Dinner was served not long after we sat down and consisted of rice, shrimp, chicken, and a few greens and spices.

There were a few men in the room who had experienced great persecution for their faith. One man shared how he was imprisoned in a cell only big enough to stand in, with nowhere for waste to go. Another of the men was our partner, Pastor Moses. He had been arrested three times, and his last time he was sent to prison for two and a half years. He shared how his cell was dark and just a few square feet. He didn’t have a toilet in his cell and went for days without seeing daylight, being beaten regularly. The Voice of the Martyrs heard about him and managed to get his release.

Pastor Moses has a tremendous testimony of God’s faithfulness in his life. What an inspiration!

It was tremendously sad to hear these stories of persecution. The pain and suffering they must have experienced I cannot imagine. Yet, through all the torture they suffered, they remained strong in their faith. They never wavered in believing and knowing that God was with them. God never left them alone, but stood with them and heard their cries of pain and suffering. He also heard their songs of praise and received their prayers like uplifted incense. He is faithful!

After dinner, everyone sang songs of praise and Pastor Moses shared a brief message from Galatians 6:9—Never Give Up.

A couple of believers we met at dinner owned coffee shops and restaurants. We visited one called “5 Banh 2 Ca,” or “5 Loaves and 2 Fishes.” This restaurant has a Christian bookstore, a chapel, and Christian music playing in the background. When people come in to eat, they ask about the name and the music. They are not afraid to share about Christ with all who eat there.

Despite this, the church in Vietnam is an underground church. There are different intensities of persecution in various parts of the country. The churches and believers we met were very open to us. They wanted us to share their stories with Christians in the US and to remember to pray for them. They are beautiful people. They are strong and unafraid of what tomorrow might bring—may that be true for us as well!

Click here to read Part II: Blessings in Bangladesh

Melinda Staples | Project Manager

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