Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Nothing Shall Separate Us From God's Love: A Testimony

Today I just want to share a testimony that touched and encouraged me deeply and still does whenever I hear it. It is of a Vietnamese Christian, Hien Pham, during and after the Vietnam War. It really illustrates our Heavenly Father's eternal love, grace, mercy and faithfulness to us, His erring and weak children. Hien is a very close friend of the Godly evangelist and Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias. Ravi Zacharias loves to relate this testimony in many of his talks and sermons. I quote it here from one his keynote address delivered on the National Day of Prayer, 2008, in Washington, D.C.
Of all the stories I’ve told after thirty years of traveling, this one is nearest to my heart, probably the most moving to me. In 1971, I preached in Vietnam. I was in my mid twenties; my interpreter was seventeen years old. His name was Hien Pham. We covered the length and breadth of the country. The American troops carried us around or we went by motorbike. How our lives were rescued, I don’t know. But we came back safely. A revival broke out in the country through the preaching of these two young men.

Hien was my interpreter. In the city Natrang, I held him close, embraced him, and said, “Goodbye, Hien. I’ll probably never see you again.” I flew to Saigon and on back where I was living at that time in Toronto. 
        Seventeen years later, my phone rang. I was in   Vancouver speaking and the phone rang at 11:00 p.m. 

The man said, “Brother Ravi.” 
There’s only one person who called me with that intonation that way. 
I said, “Hien, is that you?”  

he said, “Yes.” 

I said, “Oh my word! Where are you?” 
He said, “California.” 
I said, “What are you doing here?” 
He said, “Have you got a few minutes?” 
I said, “Yes.” 

He said, “After Vietnam fell, I was imprisoned by the Viet Cong because I’d worked with the Americans, worked with people like you. They put me behind bars, they took away all English from me, took away my Bible from me, tried to knock faith out of me. I was only allowed to read Marx and Engels in French and Vietnamese. After about a year in there, so worn out, I said, ‘Maybe you don’t exist, God. I’m giving up all hope. I don’t believe in you. Tomorrow when I wake up, I’m not going to pray.’   

That morning, he was assigned to clean the latrines. 

He said, “Brother Ravi, it’s the dirtiest place on earth you’d want to be. I bound a handkerchief around my mouth cleaning the wet floor, and I saw a little bin with dirty pieces of paper, with human excrement in it. But something told me as I looked there, there was one paper, a piece of paper with English.” He said, “I hadn’t read English for so long. I washed it off, put it in my hip pocket, waited for everybody to go to bed, to sleep. Lights were out.

I took out my flashlight under my mosquito net. I flashed it. On the right hand corner it said, Romans chapter 8.” He said, “I started reading and cried. ‘Oh, my dear Lord, you didn’t leave me one day without you.’ ‘For all things work together for good to them that love God; to those that are called according to his purpose. For who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Neither things present, nor things to come, nor life nor death.’” 

Hien said, “Next morning I went back to the commanding officer. I said, ‘Do you mind if I clean the latrines again today?’”  

He went there every day. He found another page from the New Testament. The commanding officer had been given a Bible a long time ago. He was tearing out a page every day using it as toilet paper. Hien was washing it and using it for his devotions every day. 
I said, “Where are you now?” 

He said, “I’m at Berkeley doing my business degree.” 
I said, “I can’t believe this, Hien.” 
He said, “I’m in America.” 
I said, “How did that happen?” 
He said, “I was released and I built a boat with 52 others. Four days before my release, before our escape, four Viet Cong came armed to the teeth and grabbed me and said, ‘Are you trying to escape?’ I lied and said, ‘No.’ They said, ‘Are you telling us the truth?’” He said, “Yes.”
They let him go. He got on his knees, and said, “God, I lied. I’m running my own life. I lied. If you really want me to tell them the truth, let them come back again.” He said, “I sincerely hoped that prayer would never be answered. Hours before we left, the four of them came with their machine guns, grabbed me by the collar, rammed me against the wall. ‘You’re lying, aren’t you?’”
Hien said, “Yes, I’m escaping with 52 others. Are you going to imprison me again?” They said, “No. we want to go with you.’

“Brother Ravi, if it weren’t for them we would never have made it. They knew how to navigate the ocean on that boat, get us safely to Thailand. I was then listed as a United Nations refugee. I’m here in America now doing my business degree.”

He runs a financial planning company now in California. He came and visited us, wanted me to officiate at his wedding, and he looked at my kids and said, “Don’t ever think God is far away from you. That intimate relationship is the greatest thrill of anyone’s life, for He seeks such to have fellowship with Him.” 
May God bless our nation and may God call us to prayer. May the greatest days be ahead...God bless you.

 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose...
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Romans 8:28, 31-39)

May it bless you today as it has blessed me. Nothing can separate us from His love. Amen! 

God Bless,

This Testimony is also found in Ravi Zacharias' book: Deliver Us From Evil


Shaz in Oz.CalligraphyCards said...

ah so very true Sarah and do so love these passages I think they mean something different to every believer because we do have a personal God who touches us all personally!
Ah amazing isn't it - he knows us me! He loves and understands and cares like no-on else - praise His wondrous Name.
PS dear Sarah would you pray for me - am struggling at present trying to get a layout out for these verse - praying for wisdom and would appreciate your prayer too.. it is:
"The LORD is my Light and my Salvation;

the LORD is the strength of my life;

of whom shall I be afraid?

Though an host should encamp against me,

my heart shall not fear:

Psalm 27:1,3

Maddy said...

Thank you for sharing, Sarah, what a touching and inspiring testimony this is. Praise the Lord! Amen, nothing can separate us from His love. All things together for good to them that love Him and are the called according to His purpose... this was such a wonderful testimony of the work of the Lord. Truly, He worked through even the worst of circumstances for good to Hien - we would wonder, what good could come from such a terrible job! - but how the Lord used even this! Praise His Name!


Joy said...

Dear Sarah,
I'm sorry I didn't comment earlier. This is truly a touching and inspiring story. I'm always so blessed whenever I hear it, and thank you so much for sharing!

I awarded you on my blog! :)

Sarah said...

Hi Shaz,
These passages of scripture are amazing.
I'm praying for your calligraphy project.
God bless,

Sarah said...

Dear Maddy,
I'm glad this has blessed you. The testimony is amazing. How God turn such a horrible thing into something so's beyond our understanding.


Sarah said...

Dearest Joy,
Thanks very much for awarding my blog. I really appreciate it. I'll try to fulfill the conditions as soon as I can.

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