After teaching for two weeks in Viet Nam in March, I was privileged to return to teach again in June for one week. I taught at a different site each of those three weeks, and it was great to reconnect with brothers and sisters in Christ whom I had taught before.
It was my fifth teaching trip to this country—and my seventh time overall teaching there, two times being over Zoom during the pandemic. These opportunities have all been under the auspices of ACTS International, a ministry to unreached people groups in Asia. It is a wonderful organization, as evidenced by their mission statement: “ACTS International seeks to plant churches among the unreached peoples of Asia by equipping indigenous missionaries” (actsinternational.net).”
This trip was extra special for me because an old college friend, Tim Dobi, accompanied me this time. Tim and I were fellow biology majors at Geneva College in the early 1970’s, so we were reconnecting for one of the few times we’ve done so since college! It was great to have this extended time together and to reminisce about old times…but it was also great to introduce Tim to Christians and their ministries here in the country that the USA was at war with during our college years.
Here’s a brief comment from Tim:
What a great privilege it was for me to be invited by Dave to accompany him to Viet Nam. My only impressions of Viet Nam before this trip centered around the war. I was very surprised at how inviting and accepting the people were to us. They were so kind and respectful, and it dismissed all my preconceived impressions of the Vietnamese people. The class with the pastors was such an enriching experience as they were eager to learn about the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Dr. Howard has a great gift of knowing how to present God’s Word to them in an interesting and engaging manner and they all responded so well to him.
Perhaps the greatest encouragement to me was the Sunday morning worship service at a local house church. They were singing and praising God in a language I couldn’t understand, but I could tell they were serious to know more of their Savior. In a country where you see shrines to the Buddha in almost every building and car dashboard, these dear brothers and sisters choose to serve the living God. This trip opened my eyes to the saving powers of the Gospel in a land and culture far different from ours.
On this trip, I taught a group in Hai Phong that I had taught before, though there were a few new students, as well. I had gone prepared to teach the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, but we ended up only covering the book of Ezra (touching just very briefly on Nehemiah on the last day). In previous years, I have taught through large books like Genesis, Exodus, and Joshua in one week, which has not allowed for real in-depth engagement with those books. So, after consulting with Marli Kennell, the AC TS Regional Director, I decided to slow down. As a result, in my last trip to Hai Phong, we covered only Genesis 1-11 and this time only the ten chapters of Ezra. Going deeper into the backgrounds and the actual messages of Ezra was very rewarding. We spent one entire day, for example, discussing the students’ original outlines of the book itself, and coming up with a group outline and theme sentence for the entire book that everyone was happy with. A very rewarding experience!
I was assisted as always by Huong, my able translator, local helper, and encouraging cheerleader. I am deeply grateful for Huong’s assistance in so many ways, for her love for the Lord and the ministry to which she is called; she is also the mother of two lovely daughters and wife of the pastor of the church in Hai Phong where I taught. One special treat was that she and her husband Du hosted Tim and me in the home of Du’s parents for a magnificent hot-pot meal one evening. We enjoyed the time together, including with their daughters Hannah and Ling, ages 8 and 2.
I also preached in their church on Sunday morning, and, as always, it was such a joy to worship together with fellow believers: even though the songs and words spoken were in a different language, the love of Christ clearly shone through. What a blessing!
David Howard, Ph.D.
Professor of Old Testament
- Pray for the believers in Viet Nam as they ponder and implement the things they learned and share the gospel with those around them.
- Pray for the incoming seminarians who began their Greek intensive this week. Pray also for their families as they adjust to life in Minnesota.
- Pray for that the Lord would lead the right students to the remaining seats in the college and evening programs.
- Pray for the staff as they begin final preparations for the new year.