12/13/2014: The Light Brought Hope

The Light Brought Hope

Vietnam

 

What would cause someone to risk everything and plant his seventh home-church in a communist country?

My family and I lived comfortably on the coast of Vietnam until one day government officials came to our home with an official letter. “We have to leave right away!” my father said after reading it. Later I found out the government thought our family, along with a few others, was a threat and had ordered us to move to a remote mountainous part of Vietnam. We quickly packed up a few of our belongings and headed out to make a new home. We had no choice.

The author listening to the Peace and Happiness radio program.

As a teenager, I questioned God and angrily asked, “Why would a God of love allow this terrible thing to happen to us?” I felt so alone. I remember when I would wake up terrified in the middle of the night from the sounds from the jungle and I would see my father praying. He woke up early every morning to open the Word of God and read. So one day I opened his Bible and read these words: “All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. This helped the bitterness and discontent in my heart leave. This made life in the jungle less difficult!

One day, I came across a radio station called Peace and Happiness. The whole family crowded around and listened to the preacher, Pastor Isah Young, explain the Word of God. It brought hope to our hearts. We no longer felt alone in that bamboo hut way in the jungle. We started keeping the Sabbath and following all the truths that were so clearly explained to us. I felt my family draw extremely close to God during that time.

News came that my grandpa’s health was failing. My parents sent me back to the coast to care for him. While there, I got married and had a baby boy. I then got word that my father was very ill, so I left my wife and newborn and headed to the jungle home to see him. I got back home before my father passed away. He weakly gathered all of the family around him. I saw a peace covering his face. He shared how he was in prayer and he felt a beam of light on him so bright that it caused him to open his eyes and look for the source. All surrounding him was a circle of light and he was wondering what was happening because he was indoors. After about two minutes the light disappeared. My father had tears in his eyes as he shared this experience. He said, “Our family is so blessed, so blessed!” Then he asked me, “Please contact Pastor Isah Young. His teachings are very biblical.” One week later my father passed away.

I had no way to contact Pastor Isah Young but about a month after my father passed away, a Sunday pastor came and spoke with us. Having a preacher come was so rare that about 30 of us gathered together to hear his message. During his appeal, I raised my hand. I felt God’s call to serve Him. I did not know how this would happen, but I followed my father’s footsteps and spent much time in the Word of God and in prayer. I knew He would lead me.

I was too poor to pay for my wife and six-month-old son to come join me but I trusted the Lord. One night I had a dream where I saw myself fishing for a living. But then I was surrounded with lots of outreach materials and God led me to a tribal village. In my dream, they accepted Christ. When I woke up from the dream, my wife and son were standing at the door. She had made it home! It amazed me that she made it to our jungle home. These two events confirmed that God planned for us to stay there and serve Him.

I set out to a neighboring village that did not know God. Twelve people gathered to hear what I had to say. I shared with them about the Almighty God, the God of Love, and the God of Holiness that has power to create. I shared how this God does not tolerate sin. And though He is righteousness, He made a way for us sinful people to be with Him through His Son, Jesus. I shared my testimony about how God saved me.

At the end of my sermon, a man named Manh Chumh came up to me and said, “If there really is a God like you describe, look! How come my mother is going to lose her sight and my three-year-old son is covered with boils and in terrible pain?” I was strong in my faith and I lifted up the child in my hands and I prayed for him and also prayed for the mother. I told him, “These trials may be to bring God glory.” One week later I came back to visit Manh Chumh’s family. The first person to greet me was his mother. They both greeted me with big smiles. “You prayed to your God and He healed my mother, and my son too!” Manh Chumh exclaimed. A little boy ran into the house and I grabbed him up and felt his skin, as smooth as silk.

I continued to witness about the power and love of God and as I shared, more and more people from the village came. After I finished talking, I had an appeal and all 26 people attending knelt down and accepted the Lord into their hearts. The group kept growing and two weeks after this visit I had to come back and organize a church.

In 2010, a friend of mine from another province called me. During our conversation I told him I really wanted to contact a preacher, Pastor Isah Young. “Do you know of him and his Peace and Happiness radio program?” I asked. “I have contacted him a few times already,” my friend said. He put me in touch with Pastor Isah Young and we had a good conversation. He said he would send a Seventh-day Adventist pastor to visit me. To make a long story short, I now work as an Adventist Southeast Asia Projects (ASAP) lay pastor and am planting my seventh church this year. I often face difficulties with the government officials but I always stay in the Word of God and pray, just like my father did. God is my light.

Please pray for the persecuted. “Dear Jesus, please show your love and light to the persecuted and the oppressed in Vietnam and other closed countries. May I remember to lift them up daily. Amen.”

“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’ ” John 8:12.

 

By Kang Do.* For more information about Adventist Southeast Asia Projects (ASAP): www.asapministries.org.

 

*Name has been changed and photos blurred for the safety of God’s workers.

 


02/08/2014: The Power of the Holy Spirit

The Power of the Holy Spirit

In Vietnam

Editor’s note: This article combines two stories from Adventist Southeast Asia Projects (ASAP). Names with asterisks (*) have been changed for safety purposes.

 

A Village Awakened

Based on lay pastor Hanh’s experience, as told to Pastor Isah Young.

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3.

Hanh* and his home-church took Pastor Isah Young’s challenge seriously. He told them to fast and pray for unreached areas in Vietnam. They began fasting and praying for a village 150 miles away—a village where lived not a single Christian. Because this was the hometown of one of the couples that attended the home-church, they prayed specifically for their relatives living there.

 

Yen* suffered from terminal stomach cancer. She came to the city from this village seeking medical care. Her nephew and his wife invited Yen to Hanh’s home-church and there she learned of Jesus Christ and was given a Bible. She readily accepted Him as her Savior. Because she was in the last stages of cancer the doctors offered her no help. Her only hope was in the Master healer, her new-found love. The cancer made it impossible for her to keep down food, but her insatiable appetite for God’s word sustained her. After two weeks in the city, she returned home to her family.

About a month later, Yen’s sister-in-law called Hanh with the sad news that Yen was about to die. The home-church group immediately gathered to pray for her as they had done many times when she was with them and after she had left, but this time they prayed intensely for two hours, claiming Psalms 30 for her life. They reasoned with God, asking Him, “If You let this lady die, who will praise Your name in this village?” At the close of their prayer they felt peace and assurance that God would heal her.

The next day after another prayer session, Pastor Hanh called to see if  Yen’s health had improved. He discovered she was in an unconscious state and was barely holding on to life. Talking to Yen’s sister-in-law, he earnestly asked, “Do you love Yen? If you do, listen to me! We have been praying that God will heal Yen. He is the only one who can help now. Please go get Yen’s book called the Bible, open it to Psalms 30, kneel down beside Yen and read the words, putting Yen’s name in the texts.”

A few days later, when Hanh, Yen’s nephew, and their wives came to visit, they were met with shouts of joy from a fully restored Yen, her sister-in-law, and a host of non-Christians, all praising the Lord. “Not long after you called, Yen stopped breathing,” the sister-in-law explained. “After I cleaned her and was about to dress her body for burial, I remembered what you said. I had no hope left other than your plan and it worked!! After I did what you said, praying and putting Yen’s name in the verses of Psalm 30, the blankets we wrapped Yen in started to move. I stared in amazement and fear as she started vigorously kicking the blankets off. She sat up. She asked for food and I quickly gave her some. Many came to console the family, but found an empty casket with Yen alive and completely healed!”

Hanh and his group, along with Yen, seized this opportunity to witness and spend time telling the villagers more about the loving Author of life and His powerful words in the Bible. Over 50 people in this village have accepted Jesus’ gift of eternal life and the news has traveled to several villages in the area.

 

Taming of the Beast

Based on lay pastor Thien Huong’s experience, as told to Judy Aitken.

“Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.” Mark 5:15

I carefully led believers in one of the home-churches in Vietnam through the book of Acts. We were so inspired that one of the members said, “We can do this. We can come together like those in the upper room and wait until God pours His Spirit on us in a greater way.” I agreed, so we gathered day after day to search the scriptures, sing, and pray for a greater measure of the Holy Spirit.

One day, as we continued seeking the Holy Spirit in our “upper room,” loud cursing interrupted our prayers. A large man burst into the worship room. Tattooed snakes and dragons decorated his body. The strong smell of alcohol overwhelmed us. Holding a wine bottle in one hand and shaking his finger at us with the other, he yelled profanity and insults at each member around the circle. I silently prayed for God to give me wisdom to know what to do. The church member in whose home we worshiped walked up to the man, looked straight into his twisted, angry face, and said, “I am so thankful that the Lord brought you here. Would you like to join us? If so, go outside and throw away your bottle of wine, come back, and listen to the Word of God.” The man stared blankly for a moment, then turned and bolted from the room.

The owner of the house explained to the rest of the group that the man lived next door and that he had just been released after a long prison sentence. Minutes later, we heard a firm knock on the door and in walked the very same man! He had changed to clean clothes, combed his hair, and actually appeared quite well put-together. He told us that his name was Vo. We made a spot for him to sit down and join us. He did, and he intently listened to me as I preached about a God who created the world and loved humankind in their wretched condition so much that He sent His Son to die on a cross and pay the price for our wrongdoings. I knew that others in the room were praying as I was speaking because we could sense the power of the Holy Spirit.

One of Vo’s tattoos.

We caught glimpses of the great controversy battle in that little room. As we read scriptures we watched Vo’s response. At one point he became angry and pulled up his pant leg to display prison tattoos. “Do you see this? I’ve killed people. There is no hope for me,” he said. We surrounded him and took turns praying for him, laying on hands. We pleaded with God on his behalf, rebuking Satan in the name of Jesus Christ. We asked that the Lord would forgive Vo for his sins and claimed the power of Christ’s blood. When we opened our eyes, tears were streaming down the cheeks of this very tough man. I asked him, “Do you want to receive Jesus?” Vo humbly said, “Yes, I want to receive Him into my life.”

Vo became an eager student of the Bible, a faithful member of the home-church, and a testimony of what the Holy Spirit can do when we surrender all. He was truly a new creation. Later, he told us that because his house was next door, he often heard the songs we sang. The words pierced his heart, while at the same time made him furious. He knew that if that much emotion came from those simple songs, it was a powerful force that he needed to learn more about. He hoped that it would be stronger than the demons and pain he lived with. It was.

Vo’s family expressed an interest in our church group, saying, “We want to know about the God that made such changes in Vo. We want to study the Bible with you.” We thank God for the many lives that have been transformed by the power of His Holy Spirit.

 

By Jeanette Yeboah-Amoako, along with Pastor Isah Young and Judy Aitken of Adventist Southeast Asia Projects. Email: jeanette.yeboah@asapminitries.org. Mail: PO Box 84, Berrien Springs, MI 49103. Website: www.asapministries.org.

 


05/29/2010: The Elijah Message

The Elijah Message

Every story in the Bible has some significance for us today. “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11

It is during a mad search for Elijah that God tells the prophet to go and show himself to King Ahab, who is wishing to kill this prophet who dared to come before him uninvited and speak those words of doom and disaster to this country because of the king and the people’s rebelliousness. Elijah’s word to the king was, “Tell the prophets of Baal and the people of Israel to meet me on Mt. Carmel.” The king dared not disobey lest something worse come upon him and the nation of Israel. While everyone is gathered around the two altars, listening to the false prophets of Baal wail lamentations to their god and no fire is seen flashing down from the sky, Elijah stops the senseless ceremony.

It is Elijah’s turn to prove that the God of heaven is the only true God who deserves to be worshipped. He repairs the altar on which Abraham once sacrificed to show his faith in the coming Redeemer. He calls for water to be poured over the sacrifice, so much that it fills the ditch around the altar. The wood and the sacrifice are thoroughly soaked with no possible way of a trick being played by Elijah to ignite the wood on the altar. But before Elijah prays and asks God to show the people that He was the true God, the prophet says, “Come near unto me.”

“Those who are to prepare the way for the second coming of Christ are represented by faithful Elijah, as John came in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way for Christ’s first advent. The great subject of reform is to be agitated, and the public mind is to be stirred. Temperance in all things is to be connected with the message, to turn the people of God from their idolatry, their gluttony, and their extravagance in dress and other things.” Maranatha, 118

Students learning to share their faith

God’s people who are to proclaim the three angels’ messages in these last days are represented as faithful Elijah. If we are going to win souls to Christ we are going to “come near” to those who we are working with. “My brethren and sisters, in your ministry come close to the people. Uplift those who are cast down. Treat of calamities as disguised blessings, of woes as mercies. Work in a way that will cause hope to spring up in the place of despair. . . .” Counsels on Health, 27

Are you making friends with those who you want to bring to Christ? I would like to share with you a method of evangelism that is the same as that of Elijah’s method of winning souls to Christ: “Come near unto me.” In fact this is the only way that you can win souls in this country that I visited and saw firsthand how they win people to Jesus.

Have you ever heard of or visited a country that restricts your religious freedom? A government that would require you to submit your sermon to them for review before you preach on Sabbath morning and anonymously visit the church service to make sure the sermon that you sent in for review is what is being preached? And could reject the sermon if it went against their ideas about what should be spoken from the pulpit or not spoken in that country? This is what the church in Vietnam faces every week: government agents coming to church and taking note to what is being preached and who is there and who is not in attendance. Nevertheless, the work of God is moving forward in this communistic country of our world.

Pastor Khoi has a vision to take the gospel to all those who do not know the Lord Jesus in this country of 87,000,000 people. Pastor Khoi is the stewardship director in the organization in Vietnam, and he wants to see this country of Buddhists and Hindus and the few remaining Protestants accept the truth of the three angels’ message. Vietnam has fifty cities and provinces; only twenty of these have an Adventist presence, mostly in the south and central regions. There are six Adventist church buildings in Vietnam and about 100 registered Adventist groups meeting in homes.

Despite the difficulties the workers have, there is a determination to keep pressing forward to reach those who do not know the

Pastor Mike Bauler teaching at a school of evangelism

truth for these last days. Pastor Khoi has a very thought-out plan of how to reach the masses. Every other quarter during the year he has youth that want to go into the ministry doing Bible work. These young people and some older ones come for three months of training at his school of evangelism and learn the basics of Bible work. He will train them in understanding the doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist faith and how to answer objections to those truths that we hold. I had the privilege of teaching some of the youth at one of his training schools, and I found that these very bright students were the quickest to understand what I was teaching of all the young people that I have ever taught.

After they finish their three months of training, they will be sent into the field for a practical application of their training. They will spend the next nine months at a church learning how a church is to function and how it is organized. They take over all roles of the church, organizing the church services, teaching Sabbath school, preaching, visiting the members and working to find people with whom to study. They will be required to find thirty new friends per month. So at the end of the nine month training they will have made 270 friends. Out of all these contacts, Pastor Khoi wants to see three of these friends coming to church. The reason for making friends is because of the restrictions that the government has implemented on proselytizing. You are not allowed to hand out literature on the street ,nor are you allowed to approach a house with any religious material for distribution. Making friends and then introducing them to our truth at just the right time is the modus operandi of reaching souls in this country. This “come near” approach is very effective in bringing souls to the Lord.

“That which is needed now for the upbuilding of our churches is the nice work of wise laborers to discern and develop talent in the church that can be educated for the Master’s service. Those who shall labor in visiting the churches should give them instruction in the Bible reading and missionary work. Let there be a class for the training of the youth who are willing to work if they are taught how. Young men and women should be educated to become workers at home, in their own neighborhoods, and in the church.” Review and Herald, May 15, 1888.

When the nine months are completed, some will be handpicked to return to the training school for further instruction and deeper studies in the Word of God. But the most valuable training that they have is learning to make friends with those who they want to tell about Jesus. Often times, just telling the people the truth will not save them nor bring them to the Lord. We have to become acquainted them and enter into their personal lives as Jesus did during His earthly ministry. Study John 4.

“One great object of our schools is the training of youth to engage in service in our institutions and in different lines of gospel work. The people everywhere are to have the Bible opened to them. The time has come, the important time when through God’s messengers the scroll is being unrolled to the world. The truth comprised in the first, second, and third angels’ messages must go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people; it must lighten the darkness of every continent and extend to the islands of the sea. Nothing of human invention must be allowed to retard this work. That this may be accomplished, there is need of cultivated and consecrated talent; there is need of persons who can do excellent work in the meekness of Christ because self is hid in Christ. Novices cannot acceptably do the work of unfolding the hidden treasure to enrich souls in spiritual things. ‘Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.’ ‘Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.’ 2 Timothy 2:7, 15. This charge to Timothy is to be an educating power in every family and in every school.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 133.

By Pastor Mike Bauler, 
Support for the work in Vietnam can be sent to Mission Projects International, PO Box 59656, Renton, WA 98058.





Letter from Cody: Vietnam – Nov. 2009

11-nov-training1
Pastor Bauler conducting one of the training classes.

Have you ever been locked out of your car or house? Perhaps we can look through the windows and see the keys lying right there, but getting to those lonely keys is a mission impossible! Yet when the door is unlocked, without a thought, we are in the car and ready to go. What a difference an open and closed door makes! But it is not only in the physical world that there are open and closed doors. Jesus says, “Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.” Revelation 3:8. In fact, not just is there one open door, but there are many. “There is a large work to be done, and the vineyard of the Lord needs laborers. Missionaries should enter the field before they are compelled to cease labor. There are now open doors on every side… .” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 359. “If they will labor as the Spirit of God shall direct, He will open doors of opportunity before them for the work of building the old waste places.” God’s Amazing Grace, 326. It is not only when we think that doors are open, but even when they seem closed, the Lord bids us go forward. “A thousand doors of usefulness are open before us. Often we lament the scanty resources available, but were Christians thoroughly in earnest, they could multiply the resources a thousandfold. It is selfishness, self-indulgence, that bars the way to our usefulness.” Ministry of Healing, 206. May the Lord help us to see those thousand open doors before us and press through with triumphs for the kingdom of God.

One area that is now beckoning with an open door is the previously very closed country of Vietnam. About a year ago, Pastor Mike Bauler met a young Vietnamese pastor who was sharing about an opening door in Vietnam, and he invited him to come over and assist with the work. A few weeks ago Mike and a friend left for Vietnam and were very blessed to see the work that is going forward in this needy area. Like everywhere else, perhaps the greatest need is for trained workers, and the brethren there are seeking to answer this call. Pastor Tran and his fellow workers have instituted a program that trains workers for several months and then sends them out to put into practice what they have learned. After a year of training and practical work, those that have proven themselves effective workers return for more training and are sent out again. Although they are not allowed to openly proselytize (because of the lack of freedom of religion and speech), they seek contacts by friendship and then lead them to greater spiritual truths. Their work is bearing fruit, and through friendship evangelism, souls are being led from the darkness of Buddhism and Catholicism in this restricted access county. But while liberty is very much restricted by our standards, the door is presently opening more than it has in thirty years! No doubt the Lord is bidding us enter the open door. For many years, imprisonment and worse could be the result of faithfully following and sharing the Lord, but now new opportunities are available. Restriction of printing is beginning to be eased (not completely, but some). With these reduced restrictions, Pastor Tran is hoping to be able to translate and print truth-filled literature while there is still opportunity. In order to do this, translators are needed who can translate much-needed Spirit of Prophecy books into the local language and then print and distribute them. Presently, very few complete Spirit of Prophecy books are available, but it is hoped to be able to put translators to work in order to fulfill this vital void. Then these truth-filled books can do their work of bringing about a revival in the lives of the church members and touching the hearts of those who do not know this message of truth. Would you like to help our brethren in Vietnam walk through this open door? If so, please pray for the work there, and you can also mark your donation “Vietnam.”

Yours in the Master’s service,

codysig1-website

“Praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ.” Col. 4:3.

Some of the workers in the remote areas of Vietnam
Some of the workers in the remote areas of Vietnam