After 2 1/2 hours on the tarmac in Dallas, and an hour delay in Seoul, Korean, and 15 hours in the air, we finally made it to Ho Chi Minh City at 11:30pm on Tuesday night. The team did a great job of sleeping on the plane, keeping a great attitude and ministering to those around them.
Once we got through security and customs, we had this great welcoming party waiting for us! Christine brought her kids (most of whom she and John have adopted from the slums) to greet us. These are all her kids above. That’s right. All of them. They made a great sign, all the girls wore pink, gave us all big hugs like we are family and kept saying “Hello!” really loudly.
We got to our hotel and were able to get to bed quickly. When we woke up and went to breakfast, we were able to see this view from the top floor.
We had a great morning and got taxis over to John and Christine’s house. They live just outside the slums and have adopted a slew of kids whose parents have died, abandoned them, or cannot support them anymore. It’s truly amazing to see their love of Jesus and obedience to His Word. True religion is to love the widow and orphan (James 1:27). Below is Sam, our worship Pastor, with John and Christine. We went over to the school they run in the slums, and got to visit with the kids.
So many of them just want to be hugged, held, loved and valued. They craved hugs and attention. We got them ice cream and just spent time with them, talked with them, listened to them and showed them love.
We were able to go to lunch with all the kiddoes. Needless to say, we had to get a huge table to accommodate everyone! All the kids prayed together before the meal, and were so well behaved at the table. As a father, I can’t tell you how amazing it was to see them so well behaved. They wanted us to pick them up, swing them around, carry them on our backs, and just talk to them, even though they speak very little English. So much love and compassion can be communicated without language.
This is Tamm. She is 6 years old. Her mom got pregnant with her from one guy, then 3 years later had another child (a boy) with another man. Because of shame and disgrace she felt, she didn’t want 2 children from different fathers in one house, so she sent Tamm out of her house… at the age of 3. John and Christine brought Tamm into their home, and she has grown up hearing the gospel with a full belly and an education. She now has a home and a mom and dad.
This is Jenn. She is 10 years old and lives in the slums. A man saw her recently and wanted to buy her from her mother and use Jenn as a prostitute to profit from. When her mother refused, the man beat her and Jenn with a billy stick, and they were beaten up pretty badly. This guy apparently still shows up and follows Jenn once in a while, and they are worried she might be taken soon. Please pray for Jenn, for protection, for the enemy to be defeated, for this man to be convicted of his wicked and evil sin and repent. And pray that I don’t meet this guy on the street, because I’m struggling to comprehend a cycle that would profit off of beautiful children like this. It makes me angry, sick and sorrowful all at the same time. We need you, Jesus.
Despite their difficult lives, obstacles, past abuse and poverty, there is still much laughter and smiling, joy and prayer, happiness and silliness. These kids are so much fun and sweet. Their faces burst into joyful smiles at the slightest beauty or joke. This is Tamm and Luong. I had been trying to get a picture of Luong all day, and she had been playfully avoiding me for hours, but I finally got a picture of her. She is 18 and really acts like a mother to many of these kids, comforting them, encouraging them, and leading them.
This is 6-year-old Han, and she is my shadow. She is everywhere I am, jumping on my back, grabbing my leg, asking me to pick her up, wanting a hug. Han is so sweet and kind, and she is a twin (that’s her sister making the goofy face behind her). Christine said Han’s family is one of the poorest families she knows, and they are homeless. She doesn’t know where they sleep at night, she doesn’t know when Han has eaten or not…. To be one of the poorest people in the slums is to be poor indeed.
God bless you all. Thank you for reading this. Please pray for us as we minister to these kids and families. Pray for John and Christine as they spread the gospel in the slums of Ho Chi Minh. Pray for their marriage and finances. Pray for our team as we seek to push back the darkness in Vietnam and bring out the light.