In September of 2010, our family moved to Charlotte, NC to volunteer with an inner city youth ministry called One7. It was founded in 2008 and now has kids from Africa, Vietnam, Burma, Mexico, El Salvador and the United States. The One7 vision: To reach and transform inner city communities and families by intentionally forming cross cultural youth ministry teams while focusing on holistic change and spiritual growth. We are a part of something so much bigger than ourselves, and we have never regretted the decision to move. One thing we have come to understand is that everyone has a story. All it takes is some time and active participation in someone’s life to develop a personal relationship. Just because a person is smiling on the outside, does not mean they are not ripped apart inside.
Meet Nhiet. He is from Vietnam and has been a part of One7 for several years. When we first moved here, Nhiet was one with whom we continually started spending time with and learning about. We consider him part of our family, a son we never had, and look forward to the many things God has in store for his life. I asked him to write out his story so I could share it with you.
In his own words, here is Nhiet’s story.
My name is Nhiet, and I’m from Vietnam. I have two brothers and one sister. Well, back in Vietnam, my family and other families in my village didn’t have the freedom that we wanted to have. We were judged by people because we are Christian. Most of the religion in my village is Catholic, so they do not like Christianity. We didn’t have the freedom of religion, but we still worshiped what we believed. The government in Vietnam started to arrest and kill people who were Christian. My Dad was one of them. When I was four, my Dad escaped our village and country because Vietnamese people were trying to kill him. He left to Cambodia where the U.N has a refugee camp for people to stay. After my Dad left, my family situation of finding a place to stay or food to eat was hard. My brother and I would go into the mountains to find food or minerals to sell. That is how we survived, but my Dad was facing bigger problem than we were. He, and other people trying to escape, was hiding out in the jungles of Vietnam, which is how they would travel to Cambodia. While they were hiding, the Vietnamese soldiers followed them and killed everyone who was going to the U.N refugee camp. My father was one of the lucky ones because he survived.
When I was nine years old, my Dad sent money back to Vietnam, so we could get the necessary papers required to come to America. The Vietnamese police knew what we were going to do so they would say we have to pay a lot of money to go to America. They would try everything to stop us from coming here. I was nine before I was finally able to see my Dad again after so many years. One night I asked him what the journey was like for him to get into America, and he said it was extremely difficult. He had friends who were killed by the Vietnamese people and some died because of hunger. He had to cross a gigantic river full of a variety of predators to get where he wanted. They spent a lot of time in the jungle because it was safe, and they could find food more easily. They had to eat leaves and fruit so they would have energy for walking. They were being chased the entire time, so they had to constantly be on the move during the day and also at night. Sometimes they wouldn’t stop for a whole day. I’m extremely happy to be with him and my family right now. It is a blessing. One of my older brothers is still in Vietnam right now.
Before my family came to America, we wished that all the Vietnamese people would die, but right now I just wish that everyone could have freedom and be treated equally. I talk to my big brother in Vietnam every weekend, and he is now married. The situation in Vietnam continues to get worse. Vietnamese people haven’t been given any freedom of religion unless you are Catholic. My brother told me that they destroyed all of our churches, so he can’t go to church like he was used to doing every Sunday. Now they have to meet together and pray at home. If the Vietnamese police catch them praying or reading a bible, they will burn the bible and arrest them. One day my family hopes to go back to Vietnam when we have freedom so we can live our life there. We’re praying that God will show the Vietnamese people the difference between right and wrong and stop persecuting Christians. We’re praying that they will all start to love one another.
Next week: Dear Dad
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Have a blessed day,