Remember the road we’ve travelled

vietnamIt is 1979. Minh Trang* is three years old. In the cover of darkness, his family boards a makeshift boat on the coast of Vietnam. The boat is meant to hold 20 but 70 frightened people are crushed together, shoulder to shoulder. It is dangerous in the rickety vessel because it can capsize in a heartbeat. But to suffer at the hands of the communist regime is worse. Minh’s parents decide to risk this flight in the dark.

Thus began more than eight months at sea. Minh has never forgotten that terrifying time. Eventually, after many trials and a circuitous route, his family landed in Canada. They had escaped death but not misery. It was a struggle for Minh’s parents to rebuild their lives. They had been doctors in Vietnam but now in Quebec, they had to be re-qualified as Canadian physicians. There was a quota system for foreigners so both parents struggled as they learned French, worked at menial jobs, took care of the children and laboured towards being certified as doctors.

Minh remembers those difficult years. His parents eventually qualified as doctors and inspired by their perseverance, he too has become a physician. But even as life improved, Minh was searching for something more. He wanted answers to what life was all about.

He began searching online. Coming from Vietnam, he had an eastern worldview but he was curious about Christianity. He came across a website for an evangelical church in his city. The church had all their sermons posted online, so Minh began listening to them. After working through ten sermons, he felt the need to talk to the pastor. Would Pastor Gerrard* be willing?

The pastor was indeed willing and they met at a restaurant. Minh spoke with Pastor Gerrard at length and at the close of their time together, Pastor Gerrard pulled out a French book and asked if Minh would like to investigate further by reading a book. Although Gerrard knew that By This Name was better able to answer Minh’s questions, all he had on hand that morning was a copy of The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus. Minh willingly accepted the book and promised to read it.

It wasn’t long before Minh contacted Pastor Gerrard again. He was partway through the book and wanted to talk. Back at the same restaurant, Minh was excited to share what he had learned so far. Gerrard was pleased but became concerned when Minh made comparisons between the biblical worldview and his own eastern worldview. “Jesus is like Buddha” was one of Minh’s observations. Gerrard wondered how best to address these syncretistic thoughts but didn’t have the opportunity at that meeting. Minh was extremely intelligent and was a university professor, so Gerrard wondered how to articulate the difference between Jesus and the many eastern gods in a way that Minh would accept.

Then Minh and the pastor met for a third time over a meal. Pastor Gerrard had prepared some thoughts to share with Minh but sensing the Holy Spirit asking him to hold back, he let Minh do the talking. When Minh articulated what he had learned, it was clear that the Holy Spirit had worked in him, for the doctor now had a more complete understanding of the Bible’s main message.

“Gerrard, I was wrong, but I get it now. Jesus is one-of-a-kind, in a category all of his own. He is the One.” Minh had not only understood the Bible’s message; he had also put his trust in Jesus for salvation. He asked Pastor Gerrard if he could be baptized at his cottage as a testimony to his family. Gerrard was only too happy to oblige.

Minh is now an active member in Pastor Gerrard’s church and he is open about his faith in Jesus. Right from the beginning of his new birth, he has been actively sharing the good news. At work, he has gathered together the Christian doctors he knows to work out ways to reach their medical students with the gospel.

One habit Minh has is to take the time to look back on his life, rather than just looking ahead. “We like to look to the future for happiness, but perhaps real happiness is in remembering the road we’ve travelled,” he says. As he reflects on his own life journey, Minh can see how God orchestrated the events of his life. The Lord directed his family out of the political turmoil in Vietnam, settled them in Canada and then gave him the opportunity to become a doctor. The Lord also led him on his search for meaning, leading him to Pastor Gerrard and finally bringing him to salvation in Jesus. Minh is very thankful to God for this journey. Now his desire is that many others will also take the journey to faith in Christ.

(* All names changed as per GoodSeed policy.)

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