2016 Vietnam – Lisa Kim

The Demolition Mission

As the Missions Director of New Philly, I oversee the missions preparation process, which includes selecting the nations to which we send our teams. We’ve had to deal with our fair share of security risks in previous seasons, sending our short-term missionaries to places like General Santos, southern Philippines, which is known to be a stronghold of the Al Quaeda terrorist group. We have sent teams to Manipur, Northeast India which has been mired with ongoing violence between the Indian government and separatist rebels. We’ve had a team minister in the heavily Muslim Bangladesh, around the same time that massive protests were overtaking the streets of Dhaka city. Apparently as this team was making its way to the airport on the last day, it was like a scene out of the political thriller Argo, with the driver skillfully navigating this van of foreign Christians to narrowly avoid huge crowds of angry Muslim male protestors.

All that to say, I have witnessed God’s faithfulness to those He has sent into dangerous mission fields. I am well aware of the fact that He is greater than any political system. After all, the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. The hearts of kings are but a watercourse in His hands. Therefore though I was slightly concerned about sending a missions team into the Communist nation of Vietnam, where anti-Christian persecution and church crackdowns are fairly commonplace, the Lord shielded me from any anxiety or fear. Instead, I was full of excitement and hope. I knew that this was the ordained season in which to send our first team to this new mission field. Although I have been trained in international politics and am well aware of what mainstream media headlines tell me about Christianity in Communist countries, I have witnessed too much of God’s miraculous sovereignty and even intervention to ever be shaken from that place of full trust in Him.

But what is amazing about our God is that He doesn’t just stop at protecting His children from harm, especially those who live in “dangerous” areas. Instead He makes it a point of removing anything that is hindering relationship with Him, and proceeds to chase His children down with blessings. One specific way that this manifest on our trip was when the Lord divinely orchestrated for our team to make part in removing altars from the home of new believers in Vietnam.

We were in the midst of a 4 hour van ride after ministering in an undisclosed, high security area to an undisclosed tribe. We were actually in the middle of a “Greatest Hits of Old School Youth Group” singalong, joyously declaring the praise songs of our youth over the nation of Vietnam. “Shout to the Lord, all the earth, let us sing.” “Lord I give You my heart, I give You my soul. I live for You alone.” “Your love is amazing, steady and unchanging, Your love is a mountain firm beneath my feet.” We were celebrating God’s faithfulness to not only protect and bless our ministry time, but we were also marveling at His faithfulness in our own lives. Then all of a sudden Brother Sang, our local contact, received a phone call from a recent believer. After receiving Christ and being convinced that God alone is worthy of all praise and worship, this man had arranged for a pastor to come to his home and remove all of his altars. However this process was being delayed because of scheduling conflicts. Immediately Brother Sang asked our team leader Louis if we would like to make a ministry detour, and Louis said yes. In this van already filled with praise and thanksgiving, you could feel a nervous excitement rise up amongst all the team members.

When we arrived at this humble home in a humble village, we were immediately greeted at the door by an altar stand topped off with red lights, incense, and an idol marking this home as property of evil spirits. Inside the home was a shelf bolted to a high place on the wall, holding even more idols and incense. The family of four (parents, a young son, and a baby boy) was happy to see us, but there was an element of reservation and even a bit of fear in their demeanor. Their previous faith in merciless idols and evil spirits left a residual disposition towards fear. In addition, the family had already experienced intense persecution from their relatives because of their new faith in Jesus, and had been discriminated against by neighbors they were the only Christians in the village.

But our team got straight to work. Brother Sang had Pastor Myunghwa, our team preacher, open up with a message about how the faith of one person who turns to the Lord has the power to release generational blessings. This anointed word went forth to remove deception and replace it with faith in God’s sovereignty and goodness. We closed with a time of blessing prayer over the family, then Brother Sang’s father, a pastor whom we affectionately called “Papa Sang,” became the director of operations. He started to oversee as his son took a hammer to the brick and literally broke down the altar stand. Our team leader Louis helped to remove the idols and the broken altar pieces, as the rest of the team stayed in a place of prayer over the home. Mama Sang and River, a team member and New Philly alum originally from Vietnam, were intentional to reach out to the mother of the family, comforting her and letting her know that this was a good decision that pleased the Lord. We then closed with a time of cleansing prayer, and Pastor Myunghwa anointing the doorway with oil and consecrating this home as a space holy unto the Lord.

Looking back, this moment was such a potent microcosm of God’s heart for His children and specifically the nation of Vietnam. In God’s sovereignty, He orchestrated for this one man and his wife to become saved, thus becoming the first believers ever in their lineage. And this wasn’t just a noncommittal conversion. These new believers understand that God abhors idolatry, and are being discipled in how to worship the Lord in the face of persecution. This couple had expected one pastor to come and remove the altars, but instead God decided to bless them with our crazy team- not only for us to release blessing prayer from all we had been stewarding in Korea, but also for us to be witnesses to how God is working, and to bring back a triumphant report. And let us not forget the details of the removal: the intergenerational and international cooperation represented by the OG Papa Sang directing the new generation (his son) and international partners (Louis) in cleansing this home. In breaking down the altar stand it wasn’t the foreigners taking over, but rather the native minister, Brother Sang, taking his place while the international church community was supporting in prayer. And in the very end, this foreign team was able to add on benefits from our own training (such as understanding significance of cleansing prayer and even anointing with oil). Later on in our evening debrief, two of our teammates shared testimonies of grandparents who had come to faith in Jesus in the midst of Japan’s colonial rule over Korea. These grandparents had removed all Buddhist and Shinto idols in their home in the face of great danger and persecution. But because of the faith and obedience of one person, now multitudes of family members and entire generations are walking with the Lord, including those who had been sent on this Vietnam missions trip.

Though it’s been more than one week since I’ve returned from the field, I get the feeling that I will only continue to get powerful flashbacks from this specific divine ministry appointment. As a Christian, it’s one thing to receive and even lead seminars on spiritual warfare and idolatry. It’s one thing to pray and even lead prayer against demonic strongholds. But it’s something else entirely to see with your own eyes the manifestation of what God is doing in the nations: using His anointed children to break down strongholds- to remove flags marking territories as property of satan, and instead planting flags reclaiming the territory of King Jesus. It was an honor to both witness and to be a part of this moment, and I choose to take it as a physical sign of how the missions ministry of this house has impacted and will continue to impact generations across the nations.

Thank you so much for all your prayers and support in helping make this trip possible. The protection and safety we walked in was literally miraculous, to the point where many details cannot be publicly shared. Moving forward, I ask that you take this testimony and use it as tangible proof that God is not only doing a great work in the nations, but that He desires our continual engagement through our prayers, offerings, and our being sent out to release the fullness of His plans over the earth. Let us continue to pray for Vietnam and for all dangerous mission fields, that those from every tribe and tongue will rise up to worship the Lord and Him alone. Thank you and God bless you!