International Ministries

Volunteer Alan Selig’s First Day in Vietnam

May 19, 2011 Journal
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Stan Murray warned me that when I went into Myanmar I should be ready
to preach at any moment. "You may arrive at the school and they will
say 'we want you to come now and meet the students and share a message
with them.'" It was good advice, because that was what happened when I
got to Ho Chi Minh City today. It was about 2pm.  My host, Pastor
Giam, told me that we would go to the hotel "...after we go to a
church service at 4pm."  Then he said, "I hope you will give a sermon
and encourage the people at the service."

I said I would, because I know God is always faithful and has helped
me before. I had a similar experience when we went to the USSR in
1987. As we were greeted at the door at the Moscow Baptist Church, I
was told I would be the preacher that morning. Fifteen minutes later I
was preaching, with Alexie Bichkov as my translator. There is a lot
more to that story, but I digress.

We went to the church and I met some of the area pastors who had
already arrived for the classes that start tomorrow. I had a few
minutes to think and pray and I still had a page of sermon thoughts
from a Bible study I led at Sanatoga Manor on "Scripture promises you
can hold on to." I'll resist the temptation for another digression
here.

30 minutes later I was preaching. I combined Psalm 137-- "How can we
sing the Lord's song in a foreign land?", with Ezekiel 47 (the stream
flowing from God's throne into the desert), and Romans 8:37-39--
"nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ" in order to
preach a word of encouragement about the hard times that come in all
our lives.  Sometimes they come because we have physically moved
somewhere 'strange' to us, like the exiles of Psalm 137. But
difficulties in life are also covered by the promise that God's
strength is greater than all the world's trials and temptations.

I discovered later in the service that there was a woman present for
the first time in worship that day.  She had come with her father,
another first-timer.  Her father shared in a time of testimony that
his daughter had not left her home for more than 20 years because she
was afraid of being out in the world. She was introduced to the
church, and they prayed for her during worship.

I am left wondering if maybe God wanted her to hear the words I shared
from scripture about God's presence in difficult times as a
confirmation of the tremendous courage she demonstrated in leaving her
home and coming out to meet God's family.  If that was the only
experience I had in this first day in Vietnam it would have been
enough. But there are others I want to tell. I'll just have to do it
later.   Alan