Building Relationship With The Vietnamese

My name is Christel and I come from Singapore. I went to Hanoi in July 2017 to serve for a month. It was actually my second time coming as a short-term worker, as the first was back in May, where my sister-in-Christ, Kelly, and I also served for one month.

Thank God for the meaningful experience we had the first time, and the burden He placed in our hearts for Vietnam. July was truly the opportune time to go, as it was the summer vacation for most students there, and we also made new connections from our previous trip that we intended to develop upon.

And so we went, roommates again for another month.

Our previous trip was more about adjusting to the culture, helping in places we could, and getting a sense of what missions in Vietnam is about. But for this second trip, we felt a greater sense of urgency. I think because we knew we wouldn’t be able to come back to Vietnam for at least another year, we really wanted to make the most of our time here. We were full of gusto, eager to reach out to our non-Christian friends – who to invite to an English club, who to invite to church, who to invite out to ‘coffee’, which was code for meeting up one-on-one to hang out as friends and ultimately to talk about Jesus.

I shared about Jesus with two of our new friends on separate occasions, and though I’m no stranger to rejection, somehow their lukewarm reactions got me down a bit. Was I too forward? Did I say too much at once?

While sharing the Good News was an urgent matter, it was important for me to remember that evangelism takes time. It is a journey. We too have to take the time, walk with them, pray for them, and love them. I learnt a little more about what it means to wait on the Lord. God’s Word is an awesome truth, and a tiny seed planted can lead to fruition. Nothing is impossible with God! Though we only had 1 month on that trip, God is still at work. Our work didn’t have to stop there either. Thanks to the Internet, Kelly and I can keep in touch with our friends over Facebook Messenger. Let’s continue to pray for more opportunities for them to hear more about the God.

While it’s good to share the Good News, I think I might have undervalued the importance of developing bonds and relating to others in that time. Primarily, we are called to love as Jesus loved us. Our actions and behaviour speak louder than any fancy debate. A great example of this is one of the ministries that we were involved in – an English club run by a cross-cultural missionary. He teaches English to the young adults there while also using the Bible. Wonderfully, one of his students came to receive Jesus into her life about half a year ago, and we were blessed to be her friend and hear from her how that happened:

In the first 2 to 3 months of establishing the English class, the teacher would teach purely English, no Bible stuff, but he would always spend time in class to talk to them, show genuine interest in their lives, and just love and care about them. This got our friend curious as to why he was so kind and caring. She would ask herself, ‘Why did he have the hope that he had?’

After that 2 to 3 month period, the teacher had established a level of trust and a bond with his students and felt it was the right time. So he incorporated the Bible into his classes to introduce them to who Jesus was, as well as to share his faith with them, all while learning English. It was in that time that our friend felt God’s love for her through her teacher and she took the step of faith. Praise and thanks be to God!

Indeed, our behaviour is a form of evangelism in that the life we live confirms the truth of the gospel. Thank God for such a faithful servant and for his persistent efforts in helping his students to know Christ.

Initially, a worry at the back of my mind was, “How much of a relationship can I build in just 1 month?” And incredibly, God encouraged me greatly after one worship session conducted by the same teacher from the English club. During the session, we got into groups to discuss a Bible story. I got to meet a girl around my age. It was our second time meeting, the first time was back in May. These two times that we met were also the only two times she had ever come to our teacher’s class. She had heard the Gospel but was not a Christian. We were in the same group and just had a normal, healthy discussion.

Surprisingly, during the next English club session, our teacher told me that that girl took a liking to me as a person, and he encouraged me to get into contact with her. So I did, and we got along well and she agreed to meet me for ‘coffee’!

I got to know more about her and also share a Bible story with her. She told me after our ‘coffee’ meeting that she felt closer to God, and even while I was back in Singapore, she told me this, “I will try praying for you and myself too. It might not be 100% in the right way, but I’ll do it wholeheartedly.” It was so encouraging. Currently, I am trying to maintain contact with her and to encourage her to go for more of our teacher’s worship sessions and classes.

Indeed, the message of the Gospel is powerful and I should not underestimate what God can do in people’s hearts. It was a great comfort to know that the Holy Spirit went before us and was with us while we simply witnessed to the truth. God is always at work, even when we aren’t aware of it. There were several times during our one-to-one sharings where Kelly and I felt stuck and unsure how to respond to certain questions, but out of nowhere, we got thoughts and words of wisdom. God was helping us.

And He can use anyone. The unqualified, the unconfident, the inarticulate. Basically, me. Yet somehow, God used my weaknesses for His goodness. We are loved enough that Jesus would die for us. You are enough. If our hearts are willing, he will equip us and be with us.

My heart is filled with joy and thankfulness that we got the opportunity to serve our God and the Vietnamese. A people so genuine and open, and so loved by Jesus.

To end off, Kelly, who is my close church friend and partner in all things mission-related, would oftentimes encourage me with her golden phrase, “Do your best and God will do the rest,” and I hope it encourages you too!