JOURNEYS

Planting Seeds in Vietnam

A Norfolk, Va. missions pastor gets personal with the Vietnamese people

Shown here is a house church worship service in Vietnam. Curt Breland and his team went there to minister and plant seeds for the Gospel. © Curt Breland 2010

Curt Breland, this journey post author, leads a Bible study with students. ©  

Curt poses with is the team at a Haiphong orphanage that he has served alongside for four years in short term missions to Vietnam. ©  2010

After traveling to places like Malawi and Ukraine, I am convinced that God is present everywhere. I have journeyed with Him to a number of venues, stepping into the need of humanity in different ways.

At the start of 2010, I was able to usher in the New Year for Vietnamese nationals in a special way—with a worship service. Amazingly, that service would bring more than 600 people in attendance, with about 100 of them making decisions for Christ. I spoke that day quoting Isaiah and the many names of Christ: Wonderful Counselor, Messiah, Prince of Peace. As we walked prayerfully through Vietnam to various sites, He was all that to us and we sought to reflect that to everyone we met.

From December 29th through January 7th, myself and five other missionary followers of Christ from First Baptist Church of Norfolk, based in Norfolk, Va., made a trip to Vietnam to train leaders, to offer medical services, and to be salt and light where we could.

The hurt in Vietnam is tangible. They are a country that has suffered under authoritarian rule for decades; the government is now opening up, yet people still go without much of the necessities of life. Agent Orange, one of the main chemicals used in the Vietnam War as a deterrent to the enemy, still has residual affects for the people here. Natural disaster has also had an effect here with typhoons frequently hitting the coastal areas.

The country, overall, is Buddhist, as is most of Southeast Asia, but there are pockets of Christianity sprouting up. Much different than some Southeast Asian countries, there are areas where Christianity is allowed to be openly practiced and there are a number of native Christian pastors.

Knowing this context going in to our visit, we came to Haiphong, an area east of Hanoi, to give our hearts and to mend some of the brokenness. The people of this city are warm and engaging and display the most wonderful hospitality to visitors.

The medical outreach and leadership training was very special. On two days, we treated approximately 100 patients, seeing everything from tumors to strep throat. Several mental health cases came forward, those still struggling with conflict resolution in the wake of war. We were able to train 75 pastors and lay leaders, each of them eager to see their churches grow and take shape in the way that Acts describes; we taught them about shepherding and qualities of a leader, so that they could they point their flock more directly to the cross.

On another day, we went to a pottery village, a neat little town full of shops and vendor stands selling wares. We were blessed that our tour guide and translator was a new believer and was eager to share the Gospel. He helped pass out tracts and a CD with the Jesus film to those we met. I pray that those we had conversations with and gave the tracts to will eventually make decisions to follow Him.

We also visited a couple of universities, where we prayer walked and talked to students there. They were interested in hearing why we were there and wanted to speak English with us. Through us telling our own stories, we were also to tell the story of Jesus and His great work in people. Two students made decisions to follow Christ by the end of the day!

A trip to an orphanage rounded out the stops. The key there was building relationships for further work and further aid. It was great to see how the new believers were growing in their faith through the discipleship of the local house churches.

I am firm believer in being obedient to the call that the Lord places on our lives. I think that was the theme of our journey to Vietnam, as we traveled to different areas and met with a multitude of people.

I think God smiles when you plant one seed in one person. I know in Vietnam many seeds were planted, and we look forward to a return to Vietnam to see how they have blossomed.