Open doors for the Gospel in Vietnam!
“The Christmas Love Festival and week-long outreach in Vietnam was truly historic! The impact will be felt for many years. Words cannot begin to describe the amazing, mind-blowing changes that are unfolding before our eyes,” Reid Saunders reported. “The Gospel is openly being proclaimed in this Communist country and thousands are hearing about Jesus for the very first time! So many people are searching for meaning to life, and finding that hope in Jesus Christ.”
An estimated 40,000 Vietnamese residents of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) attended the two-night Christmas event which clearly presented the biblical story and boldly proclaimed the life-changing Gospel message. About 2,400 people came forward at the event, boldly stepping onto the brightly lit stage, to indicate a desire to follow Jesus. American evangelists Reid Saunders and Pastor Dave Gibson, were allowed to address the large crowds and personally share the Gospel message; something of a miracle within this Communist country.
The Christmas Love event (December 7-8, 2019) was a world-class musical production that was televised live, and broadcast around the world on YouTube. Click this link to view the historic event https://youtu.be/geT50Ixg1po. More than 34,000 people have already viewed the online video of the event.
Local church leaders and pastors were ecstatic with the nightly results and eager to follow up with each new decision-maker. They have been preparing all year for this opportunity and are well-organized in their efforts to do the necessary follow-up work with new believers.
A team of 18 Americans, lead by Ruth Daniels and Kirk Purdy of the Reid Saunders Association, partnered with members of the Evangelical Church of Vietnam, and participated in a powerful week of outreach ministry, December 1-7.
The week began with a visit to the Vietnam War Museum. Seeing the powerful exhibit first-hand brought back suppressed grief and painful memories for many in the group, but it was a well-needed time of reflection and healing as they set out for a week of volunteer service.
A women’s breakfast drew 96 ladies and 60 made first-time decisions to follow Jesus. The team also visited a drug rehab facility for men, presented testimonies, and prayed for each man individually. A trained medical team treated 76 patients inside a local church, and delivered medical supplies and clothing to an orphanage. Pizza outreach parties drew hundreds of youth, where many heard the Gospel message for the first time in their life.
Many of the Vietnamese youth were filled with curiosity as they consumed the love and attention from the team of American visitors. They laughed and applauded the BMX stunt team that performed for them. Different team members took turns presenting the Good News and sharing their personal testimonies with the attentive children.
Copies of the One Hope literature, translated into the Vietnamese language and officially approved by the government, were passed out to the children and many of the parents. “It was an answer to prayer,” Ruth Daniels remarked. “We had used this effective printed material earlier in the year when we were in the Philippines. God gave us this special connection with one of our interpreters, who just happened to be the Director for One Hope in Vietnam. She was able to supply all of the needed hand-out materials.”
Visiting a school for the deaf and blind, the team was able to present the gospel to 208 children and 48 teachers. The Wordless Book story and colorful six-beaded bracelets were used to communicate the message of love and hope. More than half the student at the school raised their hand indicating a desire to follow Jesus. The team’s visit to a children’s orphanage for 200 kids, ages 10 to 25, was a chance to show love and compassion to the most vulnerable and helpless. Children born with severe disabilities, genetic diseases, and deformities are often abandoned by their parents in this culture because they cannot afford to care for them. Many of the children in this well-funded orphanage facility are confined to a life in small cribs, totally dependent on their care-givers, and supported with feeding tubes and other life-enabling medical equipment. It was a heart-wrenching, emotional experience for every team member as they gently touched, and prayed for the children individually.
All of the public gatherings had to be approved by the government and held in local churches or designated sites. The heavily populated Ho Chi Minh City, ( 9 million people ) is filled with an almost endless stream of motorcycle commuters that continues around the clock. Travel between events was often difficult and required careful coordination. The Evangelical Church in Vietnam is vibrant and strong today, but comprises only a small religious minority, less than 2% of the total population. Much of the credit for starting the present day church is given to American soldiers that brought the message of Jesus to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) during the 20 year Vietnam war.
The always-present threat of persecution by the Communist government has united the church, forcing them to be bold in their outreach, and have a deeper commitment to their faith. Church leaders and planners were very excited to partner with the American team in this all-out effort to reach their country with the Gospel message. Plans are already underway to take the Christmas Love production to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, December 2020.
“We don’t know how long the doors will remain open, but I am hopeful that we could be going back to Vietnam for several more years,” Reid reported. “Our participation is building relationships with the Christian churches in Vietnam and encouraging them to stand strong in their faith.”