A Vietnamese man discovers that Jesus is the way.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
It took many years for me to realize that God is the Way, the Truth, and the Life of my life. My family had a Buddhist background, but I have never been a homogeneous Buddhist. I rarely went to the temple or read Buddhist scripture. I did not understand Sanskrit recitations at all. They were too strange to me!
But I became a Christian, and I want to share with you my long way to becoming a Christian.
Living my life without God
My story goes back to the year 2001. I met my wife for the first time when I came back to visit Vietnam. We got married in 2002. My wife’s family was Protestant, with almost a century of faith in Christ. My wife went to church from a young age, but when she grew up, she cooled down, slowly separated from God, walked the world, and hung out with friends who did not share the same beliefs. Finally, my wife married me.
Before we got married, her family asked me if I wanted to be a Christian, but I said no! Her mom told me, “It is okay, but we will see!”
In school I was taught, “Religion is opium.” I did not believe in anything, just myself! My family worshiped Buddha and ancestors, but I was not with them in those kinds of worship either. I was totally an atheist.
Day by day, my wife and I lived a life that seemed without God. We only thought of our own matters, money, and happiness. When I brought my wife to America in 2003, we stayed in Michigan. Because of a promise to my mother-in-law, we sometimes went to church, but we just sat and listened with our minds absent.
Discovering Jesus is the only way
I never thought I would become a Christian, a Lutheran. Then I moved to Boise, Idaho.
When we moved there in 2006, my wife wanted to attend a Vietnamese-speaking service. Some of my friends at work told me that at Peace in Jesus there was a Caucasian pastor who spoke Vietnamese very well. My wife wanted to worship there, so I took her. That’s when I saw Pastor Dan Kramer for the first time. I wasn’t a Christian at the time however, so I didn’t usually go to church with my wife.
Then one Sunday in 2008, I decided to go to church with her. I did not really understand the Bible terms Pastor Kramer said in the church and what they really meant. Little by little I realized he was trying to share things about Jesus. From time to time, I found [language] mistakes in his sermons and used them to ridicule and disparage him with my wife.
Until one day I sat in the church and really listened to his sermon. I still did not know what it was, but I was sure it was a good thing. I came home and said to my wife, “How come this white guy is trying to speak our language? It touched me.” I asked myself so many questions, including why I am a Vietnamese speaker but I could not do things like Pastor Kramer: helping people, sharing the good news, helping people get closer to Jesus.
I began to think about Jesus and Christian values a lot. I thought about the love of our Father, and I also compared my life at that time. It seemed I was lost. I had to find the way.
One day I came to Pastor Kramer and asked him—it is very hard to put into words—I asked him, “I don’t really know what it is, but I would like to learn more about God.” He introduced me to a Bible information class that he developed for the Vietnamese. I attended classes that use Vietnamese proverbs to teach biblical themes. The course is called “Sau Cơn Mưa, Trời Lại Sáng,” which means “After the Rain, the Sun Shines Again.” The themes of the class were really interesting to me. It helped me realize God is my only way. If I would like to have a bright future like after the rain, the sunshine again, Jesus is the way. He’s my life, my sunshine again. I finished the course with a lot of appreciation. It was like I had become a new person.
A short time later, I met with Pastor Kramer and asked to be baptized. After becoming a member in 2009, I decided to continue studying. I am currently in a training program to become a pastor (see sidebar) and involved in various forms of outreach and ministry.
Walking with others to share Jesus
In May 2021, Pastor Kramer and I had the opportunity to visit King of Kings Lutheran Church in Garden Grove, California, to counsel on reaching out to the Vietnamese community in southern California, specifically the city of Garden Grove. We had a nice, successful trip. I would like to share what I learned.
My impression of Little Saigon is that it is really busy. I felt like I was in the center of Saigon in Vietnam. You could hear Vietnamese everywhere. Then we had the opportunity to walk around and interact with the Vietnamese community. They were very friendly and hospitable. Pastor Kramer spoke Vietnamese with everyone, creating a good, likeable communication. I found out language is important for evangelism.
We gave a presentation at King of Kings on Vietnamese culture to 42 members. Many of them have not had much experience with Vietnam, and they were excited to learn about Vietnamese culture so they could share the good news with the Vietnamese community. This is important because everyone likes to be a part of outreach.
Along with walking in the commercial centers of the Vietnamese community, we met with Mr. Chuyên, a community leader; Yến Vy, a former member of Peace in Jesus who lives in Garden Grove; and two local Vietnamese pastors, Hai and Matthew. The conversations with them about the needs of the Vietnamese community were very interesting, and we learned how to reach out to the community. When I heard Mr. Chuyên’s story and the success of the Vietnamese community, I felt that the Vietnamese community needs the good news more than cars and money. They need the good news more than anything. I also realized that having a connection to the community through English classes and citizenship classes is important in evangelism. The highlight of the trip was that I could introduce Tammy, a Vietnamese teacher, to Garden Grove’s pastor, Brian Doebler. Good connections will open the doors of evangelism.
When driving around the Garden Grove area, I saw a lot of Vietnamese houses with Buddha statues, which is very sad. We need to do more to get the gospel to the Vietnamese community as soon as possible. We would like to walk with the King of Kings congregation and pray, “Your kingdom come.”
Are you tired of hearing my story yet? I hope not! Becoming Christian is the most wonderful time of my life and still is. I devote my life to him and get ready for him to send me anywhere so I can share my story with others.
Author: Hưu-Trung Lê
Volume 108, Number 9
Issue: September 2021