Luis Palau walking by faith in Vietnam

Georgene Rice interviews Luis Palau to discuss a recent trip to Vietnam. Things didn’t quite turn out as expected for a couple of the festivals they had planned. God was at work, even as the circumstances were altered, and in ways we often don’t expect. Luis tells of events that took place behind the scenes that demonstrate that God will not be mocked.

Georgene: It’s amazing that you were given access in Vietnam to begin with and it is interesting when things don’t turn out quite the way you have planned, that God still accomplishes his purpose.

Luis: We all preach about “walking by faith” and “resting in Him”, then comes the time when you have to actually do it. It is quite exciting. I was amazed at the supernatural peace we had in the midst of a bit of a storm. Questions were faced every day about whether we would be given permission, if they would change locations and if we’d be given us a place large enough to serve our purpose. It was an adventure of living what we preach. By being at peace, as we were doing all we could, it was exciting to watch God work out His plan.

Georgene: As is usually the case, you are invited by a local church to come. I know part of your role there was to encourage these pastors and church leaders who had done a great deal of work for your coming and were disappointed in Hanoi, in North Vietnam.

Luis: The leaders there were working till 1:00 in the morning trying to get the permit. It broke our hearts to see how much they love their country and the obstacles that are there. One the other hand, we were able to encourage them. Since 1975, when the U.S. armed forces left, tightness had broadened and doors have been opened to them. There have been thousands and thousands of house churches started. After you have 40 people in a house church the authorities demand that you break out into another house church, so they have multiplied, housing the many thousands who have converted.

When their discouragement was profound I took the Bible and showed them passage after passage, with illustrations of things we’d gone through in other countries we’d visited. So they felt relieved that they weren’t a failure.

Georgene: You had written in your blog that there were dozens of buses that made their way to the festival in Hanoi. Hundreds of buses filled with people, were sitting outside the venue when they heard that the festival would not move forward as expected. You shared that those hundreds of people began to share the “good news” and lead people to Christ right there on those buses. Buses filled with nonbelievers came to know Christ outside the venue.

Luis: When they found the festival would not go forward, the believers shared the gospel with all the non believers. They not only preach the gospel boldly, aggressively, and lovingly, they speak with such authority.

After my first night of preaching in the South I lead the group in prayer and asked them to come to confess their faith in the Lord, as I always do. The next night the church leaders said, “Let us do the invitation.” You should have seen them. They are so aggressive. After giving the message, I told then how they could accept Christ, then I stepped back. A man took over. He didn’t just call for people to come forward, he ordered people to come forward, saying, “We know there are many more of you. You come!” After coming forward they were asked to face the audience. They didn’t worry about feeling awkward. In fact, they like it. People gladly stood facing the audience, sobbing.

I tell you, the power of the Holy Spirit in Vietnam and the authority of the simplest pastor was a great experience.

Georgene: Tell us about the tribal groups in Vietnam and the challenges of that for the church.

Luis: There are 63 different tribal groups in Vietnam. Those tribes are only 20% of the entire population. But, 80% of all the Christians in Vietnam are from those tribal areas. The Mongs, the mountain people, many of whom now live in Portland, Fresno, and the Twin Cities, were converted to Christ directly through short wave radio transmitted out of the Phillipines. Many of those were the ones coming by buses to the festivals we had scheduled.

Georgene: It is thrilling to see what God is doing in Vietnam. I know that one of the things that you saw was a unity among the many churches in that country. That had not occurred up to this point.

Luis: After the war Vietnam became one country, but they still speak of the North and the South and the cultures are still different. In the South there is a need for growing unity. In the North the unity was absolutely sealed on this trip. But, they told us that even though we were not able to preach, that our coming had brought them together. The government even admitted to the people and the American Embassy that they had never before seen unity between the four major grouping in the North working in harmony, supporting each other. So, God used us to bring them all closer together.

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