Meet Nguyen Minh Hanh*By Nguyen Minh Hanh*, Interviewed by Wayne Labins
MY FAMILY God has blessed me with one wife and three children—two girls and one boy. My girls have been to college and my boy is preparing for college entrance. In my family, we do not have a lot of land, but God blesses us with good crops. I thank God for giving me a wonderful wife who encourages me in all situations whenever I do the work for the Lord. For example, when the government persecuted me, my wife was very happy, because she said, “You are a farmer with no name, no title, no status, but when the government persecutes you, then everyone knows about you. You are persecuted for the glory of the Lord.”
HOW GOD REACHED MY HEART I came to Christ through the Peace and Happiness radio program. I was CMA [Christian Missionary Alliance] before because my grandparents were first-generation CMA. I listened to the program and had a lot of thoughts about the Sabbath, about clean and dirty food, and about the state of the dead—teachings which were totally different from Sunday churches. In 2003, I made a decision to leave the Sunday church and join a Seventh-day Adventist house church. Many people discriminated against me and shunned me; they did not want to talk to me. A lot of people thought I was following a cult or joining a terrorist group. But I saw that the SDA church follows the Bible.
WORKING FOR THE LORD The church members and I do gospel outreach in the small villages up on the mountains and in the big cities. It does not matter where we go, wherever the Lord asks us to go, we will go. We give out out CDs/DVDs and books from Peace & Happiness. More people respond to the gospel in the small villages. In the countryside, the minority people are very simple and when some learn to believe in God, the whole village believes in God. In the cities, people are just looking for material things. The village and city people receive the same things, but after listening to the materials, the city people often ignore the messages. I have tried many times to talk to the city people, but they say, “Thank you, but now we have to take care of our stomach first.”
BOLD ACTIVITIES REACH HEARTS Every year in my area we distribute more than 10,000 CDs and DVDs and more than 1,000 books. There is no other denomination that evangelizes like the SDA house churches in Vietnam. We pass out CDs/DVDs in crowded market places and public places like schools and even government offices. We make friends and go with them to the Catholic and other Sunday churches and even Buddhist temples. At the end of the worship services, we politely offer people the CDs and DVDs and many people take them.
After witnessing in this way, some church members report us to the government. The police interrogated me at least ten times last year . They will send up to three “invitations” and if I do not show up by the third time, they would arrest me and put me in prison [Interviewer’s Note: Mr. Nguyen produced an “invitation” document dated and stamped with a governmental seal requesting him to appear]. During one interrogation, the police asked about Pastor Isah’s CDs and DVDs. I told them, “You have heard and you have seen a lot of hours of CDs/DVDs and has Pastor Isah said anything against the government or anything immoral? They had to answer no. So I asked, “Why are you interrogating me?” They ordered me not to go and evangelize and said that whoever wants to believe in God can just go to a registered church and worship. I told them the Bible says that people can only believe if they hear the Word of God (Romans 10:14-17). Even with the difficulties we have from the government our house churches still grow, adding about thirty souls per month. We are followers of Christ, who suffered persecution–and we will do the same.
WINNING AND LOSING There is a spiritual battle for souls in my country, and sometimes souls are won, and sometimes they are lost. There was man who used to work for the communists in a high position. He opened a Chinese herbal medicine store. Another bible worker got this man’s phone number to me. I met the man and he explained that he was listening to BBC Radio, when, by accident, he turned the knob just a little bit, and found the Peace & Happiness radio program. He said, “I listened to Pastor Isah and I did not know whether he was old or young, fat or thin, but when he preached there was something like a power that draws you. Pr. Isah has a lot of stories and has done a lot of research; there is no other pastor that preaches like that.” He said he has written letters to the Peace & Happiness radio program four or five times, but he did not get a reply. I told him if you use the government post office, a reply will never come. He was so glad to see me and we gave him the Peace & Happiness CDs/DVDs. He said, “I have a lot of friends and they do not know about God.” He wanted a lot of CDs and DVDs to give to his friends. I told him that I would bring him more. We met regularly with the communist man and he is now a believer.
Unfortunately, there are times believers leave the church because of pressure or offers of gifts from the government. One lady accepted the truth and then the government told her to deny her faith, forget about following God, and offered to give her a house. After the government talked with her a few times, she denied her faith and the government gave her a small house. We have a bible worker that still visits her, but if she accepts the faith again, she would lose the house. After our bible workers visit families, if the government finds out, they will visit them and threaten to cut off benefits if they join the church. Some people do get discouraged. There are many people in Vietnam listening to the Peace & Happiness radio program who believe, but have not had the courage yet to stand for God.
DOUBLE HIT In 2009, a hurricane hit my area and 16 families in our churches needed help. We gave them rice and money. Afterward, the government also helped the hurricane victims. However, the government said the 16 families were believers and so they did not help those families. The government said, “If you follow God, He will help you.” When we went up there, our church members were a little sad by being “hit” a second time, but were glad for our help. Some of them even said that though they lost things in this life, in the future when Christ comes back, He will make it up for them.
MISSION IN HIGH PLACES Every two to three years there are new government officials in charge of religious activities in my area and I am “invited” to talk to them. I tell them to listen to the Peace & Happiness radio program to see what we are doing; I try to convert them. I tell them about how damaging alcohol is and how Pastor Isah preaches about how to be healthy. They asked recently, “Why don’t you meet on Sundays like all the churches?” I told them about the Sabbath and working six days and resting on the seventh day because God blessed it for rest and worship. They asked me what kind of bible we use. I told them we use the same bible and worship the same God as other churches, but we have different theology. I look at these “invitations” as divine appointments and pray these officials will become believers.
PRAY FOR LIGHT IN DARKNESS God is working in Vietnam, but it still does not have religious freedom throughout the country. For example, when I needed to renew my passport, the government contacted the city police. The police said they would process my paperwork, which should take about 15 days. But they delayed for months until the week before I was to leave the country for evangelism training. Five days before I was to leave, the city police asked me about the passport. They know we have training that is done outside of Vietnam. So the cop asked me if there is going to be a training program this year. I told him that, because of the recession, the people who support the organization are short in funds, so we are not doing it this year. He said, “If there is going to be one, you let me know so I can help to make things easier for you.” They asked me to write down a promise that I am subject to the laws of the land if I go and attend a training program. I signed that paper because if I did not, they would just keep asking questions. I trusted God.
The whole point of what the government is doing is to discourage believers from sharing the truth outside the country. They asked me not to tell others that Vietnam does not have freedom of religion. I love my country, but I must share the truth with whoever will listen. My country is under the control of the devil. But like it says in Ephesians 6:11 [Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil], we have to make a change to set the country free from the darkness of evil. If we see our country in darkness and run away like Jonah, it is not what God wants. My citizenship is in heaven, but I have the responsibility to take care of the people who may be losing their soul. My future, my inheritance is not on earth. My inheritance is in heaven. Therefore, I delight and work very hard for the Lord. Please pray for my country that God’s light will push away the darkness.
*Name has been changed for the safety of God’s worker.
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