From Refugee Camp to Facing the Enemy
Todd’s 2nd trip blog from Vietnam and Taiwan
Simeon (name changed for security reasons) has given his life for the sake of the gospel. He lives with the risk of being arrested.
When he was just a teenager, Simeon was forced to flee his life in Vietnam. Life in a refugee camp would become his reality.
“If I can only get to the port, I can escape to freedom,” Simeon thought to himself. His father’s allegiance to the United States during the Vietnam War left Simeon under constant threat of being imprisoned. He was already considered a second-class citizen of sorts and a potential enemy of the state.
In 1990, Simeon finally escaped by boarding a small boat that was already overloaded with people, all seeking freedom. Waves roared and currents pushed the boat to and fro. The intended destination was Malaysia, but it soon became apparent that the boat wouldn’t get there. The overwhelmed engines couldn’t push the boat through the waves, winds, and currents. Finally, they let out a distress call.
An American oil tanker in the vicinity rescued the boat’s passengers. To the great surprise of the rescued souls, the workers on the oil tanker sank the small boat, in accordance with maritime laws. Simeon learned that his destination was now Hong Kong. His hopes and dreams for Malaysia were over.
The Hong Kong authorities quickly took them to a refugee camp for Vietnamese. No refugee status was granted, and they couldn’t work or leave the camp without special permission.
Simeon struggled in the Hong Kong refugee camp. He felt like a prisoner with no hope. The threat of being sent back to Vietnam became more and more of a reality as Hong Kong prepared to be returned to China in 1997.
Hopelessness had set in, but just as despair was about to win, Simeon heard the gospel from fellow Vietnamese refugees who had recently received the Good News themselves. Simeon repented of his sins and decided to follow Jesus.
The British government, adhering to Chinese demands for reunification with Hong Kong, sent Simeon and all the remaining Vietnamese refugees back to Vietnam in late 1996.
However, Simeon didn’t go back as the same man. He was transformed, born again, and ready to preach the gospel no matter the cost. He knew it wouldn’t be easy, but Simeon pressed on and has faithfully been reaching the lost in Vietnam ever since.
Now, Simeon is translating the Bible and creating biblical teaching in the languages of Vietnam’s unreached people groups.
In late February, Simeon attended our training in Vietnam, and I had the opportunity to teach and encourage him. We were like two peas from the same pod, as we both have given our lives to unreached people groups, struggled in communist countries, and yearn to produce the gospel message in more tribal languages.
Even though I was “officially” the teacher, I learned much from Simeon. He has been through the fire, and his faithfulness is both a challenge and an encouragement to believers.
Simeon was once a refugee fleeing the Vietnamese communist government. Now he faces them daily, boldly proclaiming the Gospel.
The Unreached People Groups Ministry is seeking to translate more Bible stories into audio recordings for various tribal groups. We intend to distribute more Bibles to tribal believers and train more disciples among unreached peoples. Partners like Simeon in Vietnam are the key to seeing all nations hear the gospel and obey all that Jesus commanded.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support of Heaven’s Family’s Unreached People Groups Ministry. Together we are proclaiming the Good News and making disciples among people groups who are less than 1% Christian. Thank you for taking meaningful steps to reach those who do not have access to the gospel.
Director, Unreached People Groups Ministry