Return to Vietnam
Experiential Journey Brings Healing
"Never in my life did I think that I would ever go back to Vietnam," says Pedro Windsor, pastor of La Capilla del Barrio in Chicago, Illinois. Windsor served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. "The Vietnam I knew and the Vietnam I returned to were two different situations.
"Returning to Vietnam in peace time was kind of coming full circle for me. I left wounded and I came back with a sense of healing."
Windsor returned to Vietnam for the first time since the war in March of 2011, along with Drew Yamamoto, supervisor of RCA mission in Asia and the Pacific, and Al Pruis, pastor of Peace Reformed Church in Eagan, Minnesota, who served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. The trip was an experiential journey organized by RCA Global Mission.
A country at peace
Both Windsor and Pruis expressed the sense of blessing they felt to be able to see the country at peace and full of activity, with none of the sights and sounds of war they remembered.
"One of my highlights was worshiping in a church in Hanoi, the capital of North Vietnam, capital of our enemy, a place I never could have expected to be walking the streets, let alone worshiping," says Pruis.
They were also able to talk with a pastor who had served in the North Vietnamese Army during the Vietnam War. "It just was awesome to me to be in the presence of this dear brother and to know that we were once enemy combatants, and now here we are, fellow pastors, co-laborers in the kingdom, brothers in Christ," says Windsor. "That was powerful."
The RCA delegation spent time with representatives of a mission organization that works in Vietnam, training indigenous pastors in evangelism and community development. Windsor, Pruis, and Yamamoto were able to hear the testimonies of several groups of pastors from rural areas of Vietnam gathered for training sessions.
"It was a huge highlight for us to hear these stories and engage with these devout and Spirit-filled pastors, many of whom had put it all on the line for their faith," says Pruis. "The stories we heard from these pastors was just amazing--what's going on in their villages, and how the Lord is at work. The churches are multiplying."
"I saw the book of Acts as the pastors shared their stories of how God moved them, not just in terms of coming to Christ, but in engaging them in mission that makes a difference in the lives of people. These men and women are living the gospel," says Windsor.
Growth in tribal areas
In Vietnam, the gospel is spreading most quickly in rural tribal areas. Pastors and churches are deeply involved in their communities, building roads and schools, organizing farmers' cooperatives, and other things that benefit the community.
"People see the great work that's being done that no one else is doing, and it opens their hearts to the gospel," says Pruis.
"When you build a road, a church doesn't just benefit, the entire village will prosper," Windsor says. "It became obvious to see how God uses these men and women not just to bless people spiritually but also economically.
"We can learn from our Vietnamese partners. Most of what I heard over there was relational, hands-on, not as much about the preaching but about modeling. We talk a lot at this end of the world, and [in Vietnam] I saw very little talking and a whole lot of doing. The church in Vietnam is a missional church."
Though the RCA doesn't currently have a mission partnership in Vietnam, RCA Global Mission is exploring ways the RCA can help further the mission of organizations already working in the country. Eventually, the RCA also hopes to have a mission presence in Laos, Vietnam's neighbor to the west. Pruis's church, Peace Reformed, has many Laotian members and and is very interested in helping an RCA mission presence there.
"I believe my having been back to Vietnam as an RCA pastor is part of God's plan to help open another door to share the good news in Southeast Asia in partnership with [the organization we met with] and those with whom they serve," says Pruis. "May there soon be a new day of salvation in the mainland of Vietnam like there is in the villages and provinces of the tribal regions."
RCA Global Mission offers experiential journeys to help RCA members connect with RCA missionaries and mission partners. Future trips may include multiple mission sites. Global Mission can build an experiential journey around a request, providing that it connects with an existing RCA mission partnership. If you are interested in going on a future experiential journey, contact Jay Harsevoort: email@example.com or (800) 968-3943 ext. 254.
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