June 2nd, 2016

An Amazing Story of Fruitfulness, from Missionary Pioneers in the 1960s

Two weeks ago, Jim was in Portland and he met a couple there who we had met in 1997. They had trained us in language learning techniques, back before we left for China. The Gradin’s week of training was the most practical and memorable of our entire missionary training that summer. Nineteen years later, they were both attending a three day Vietnam Ministry Partnership conference where I was too. I had forgotten that their pioneering missionary work had been in the hills of rural Vietnam.

They had a spectacular missionary story. The tribe where they had gone to serve in the 1960′s was from a language group with only 40,000 people. There was not one follower of Jesus in the region among the entire people/language group. With one other couple they had been the first to share about the love of our Creator God and how he made a way for us to know him. Then, surprisingly, one day some men from the village told the missionaries that they had decided to follow Jesus, and asked them how. All of them at the same time! They knew what to do as soon as the missionaries prayed with them, they went back to their homes, took down their idols and took them outside the village and burned them all. Soon they were traveling to other villages to invite them to follow Jesus too. It was, what is called “a people movement.” According to the Gradins, 20,000 from this people group are now Christians. That’s half.

Not all of us who serve overseas get to experience such remarkable fruitfulness. Most of us do a lot of planting seeds, watering and weeding.

But in Vietnam in 2016, it does seem like it is harvest time for the Vietnamese Christian workers who are sharing the gospel in their country. In the last eight years the Christian population has doubled. Granted, that means it went from 1% to 2% Christian. One church Jim works with has evangelistic meetings every Friday and last year 1500 came to Christ through these meetings. Another church has a goal of planting a new church every year. It is rewarding to have a part of helping this movement. And they need a LOT of help!

Gathered in Portland was a unique combination of people: Some were Vietnamese pastors and ministers who have immigrated to the USA, but continue to have ties to Kingdom work in Vietnam. There were missionary statesmen, like the Gradins who have served longterm there even before the 1970s. There were some who currently live and minister there who had come back for the conference, and those like me who may not live there, but have some kind of work serving the growing church and her needs. This group meets once a year in Bangkok (for secrity reasons, they meet outside Vietnam), and once in the USA. He’s gone before, but this time it was the most insightful.  He had a few chances to lead sessions on mentoring. While everyone was interested in what he was teaching, his future partner(s) in doing mentoring remains a mystery. Quite a few friends would consider taking a trip with him, and that will make the travel more enjoyable. He has been following up with people and preparing for his next trip June 13th.

Thank you Lord for what you are doing in Vietnam and for the favor you have given among these influential and fruitful pastors. We pray for these leaders as they lead their congregations in this developing nation where many are now open to following Jesus. Give us wisdom in planning Jim’s next trip from mid to end of June.



Leave a Reply