2017 Vietnam – Danielle Kang

Walking in Obedience
(audio mp3)

“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, The knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” – Hosea 6:6

Going to Vietnam I expected so many things to happen. And I went praying that my time would not be one of striving, but one of simply being obedient to God’s voice and how He wanted me to partner with Him. I felt God tell me that as I walked out in simple obedience to Him, I wouldn’t just desire, but I would expect God to move in powerful signs, wonders, healings and miracles. So I made sure to examine my heart, that all my desires were coming not from my flesh, but from a pure heart before God. I also went asking God to renew my passion and to remind me of my love for missions. That is the heart I carried as I headed to Vietnam, and thinking about all of His words to me made me SO EXCITED!

As our team visited each ministry, we were able to connect with a youth group, share testimonies, and release mighty prayers. Even through children’s songs we were able to release truth and really break any hardness in the atmosphere. My prayers before and throughout each ministry time was that the fire of the Holy Spirit would fall and that people would encounter God in a fresh and radical way. I was hoping to see powerful ministry times where people would be slain in the Spirit and receive healing and the gift of tongues. I knew that ‘successful’ ministry would not depend on whether those things happened or not, but I still chose to hold onto these desires because it is how I felt God was challenging me. After the messages were preached, there would be altar calls and most people in the congregation would respond. (Praise the Lord!) However, what I had anticipated would not happen. The response wasn’t as dramatic as I expected. So I began to fight off discouragement and the temptation to feel like I wasn’t doing something right.

But by the third day of ministry I felt the need to check my heart because something wasn’t quite right. I knew that I was being obedient to God because I was hoping to see crazy things just like He challenged me to before the trip. However, it was during our ministry time in the tribal village that I realised that He wasn’t asking me to contend for fire to fall and supernatural healings, miracles and signs every single day in every single ministry (facepalm). All He wanted was for me to partner with Him in every moment- to be fully present with Him, still expecting and contending for the best, but more importantly knowing that ‘the best’ is simply releasing His heart to His people. And what this looked like might vary from place to place. I realised how fixated I became on the challenge that God set before me, that I forgot that each step was meant to be taken with God.

Thus during the altar call ministry time, my heart began to change and this reflected in how I prayed. Instead of asking for God to release signs and wonders, I simply began to ask, ‘God what are you doing here? What is your heart for these people?’ and that is when my heart began to break. I suddenly felt an immense love for the people in front of me. I felt such a deep joy and celebration in my spirit that each person at the altar call had responded. Then I felt God say, ‘This is my heart. I want to encounter and love these people today not necessarily with fire, but with a gentleness. This is what they need right now.’

And then it hit me.

Just as each ministry setting was vastly different from each other, what God is doing in each church and each person’s life was different. Even the testimony of the tribal village area was so unique. How God first showed Himself to these people was through a Christian radio station based in Manila, Philippines. The tribal leader heard the Gospel through this station and accepted Jesus as his Lord and Saviour. Then eventually the whole village received salvation. It wasn’t through missionaries, pastors, or family members. It was simply by how God pleased to show up.

I felt God gently correct me by saying that people are always at different stages in their walk with Him and my task is simply to ask God what He is doing and to partner with it. God’s heart and desire for me was (and is) to first and foremost love Him and love His people. They are people in relationship with God and He never wants to force things on them that they are not ready for. This is something that is so fundamental to my faith, but something I am constantly being reminded of. I learned that what releases God’s heart and His plans for His people is not achieved by a generic prayer or by works. Rather it is by tapping into what He is doing, how He is moving, and learning to partner with Him.

From that point onward, my prayers began to change. Instead of asking for fire to fall and for God to show up in wonders every time, I began to ask God to show me His heart for His people and what He was doing in each moment. It really wasn’t what I had expected, but I really began to understand what it meant to partner with God in ministry, and what that looked like. It was really different in each setting. Sometimes I felt God move and release healings, and sometimes I felt that all He wanted for His people to be reminded that they are not alone. It was still equally as powerful, because the nature of God’s love is powerful, no matter how it is revealed.

Another standout moment was when we visited a drug rehabilitation centre on the fifth day of ministry. It was my favourite day out of the whole trip! It was one of the two rehab centres run by Brother Sang’s friend Pastor Phuong. When we arrived at the centre, we were greeted by about thirty men. I actually loved how most of them were tattooed up, even though initially I felt a little intimidated. We began our time there worshipping in the native language, and it was SO POWERFUL! I really felt a hunger for God in the place and it was so crazy knowing what these men were going through. We found out that they didn’t have any formal treatment or programs to help them break off from their addictions. Rather, when someone would be struggling with withdrawal or the temptation to go back to their ways, everyone would gather around them and pray for him, and they would invite God into their struggles through praise. Their coping mechanism was literally the presence of God. I was in so much awe when I heard about this from pastor Phuong because before the missions trip, so many things happened where I felt like the only way I could deal with my issues was to process by myself, away from God, and then come to Him when I felt like I had somewhat sorted things out. However, seeing how real and raw these men were before God in the midst of their struggles, and how their first response was to cling to God made me really repent. It made me realise that their worship unto God was true worship, and it’s what so pleases Him.

After the worship service we got the opportunity to hear pastor Phuong’s testimony. He shared about how from a young age he got involved with many crimes, became addicted to drugs and eventually ended up in jail numerous times. He was involved with trafficking women, and later on was diagnosed with HIV AIDS. He lost so much weight that eventually it looked like all he had was skin and bones. Because of the disease his left leg shriveled up and doctors said it was only a matter of days or a few weeks at most before he would die. It wasn’t until he was on his deathbed that a friend of his shared the Gospel with him and that’s when he received Christ as his Lord and Savior. The crazy thing is that God healed him completely of AIDS and his body was restored to a healthy state. PRAISE THE LORD!! As pastor Phuong was sharing this testimony, I remember thinking that I would have never guessed he went through all of that because he looked so healthy and had such a radiant and joyful countenance.

When he shared that he was also involved in trafficking women I was so shocked. I had never met anyone who had been redeemed from a past like that. Sure, I had heard many testimonies where people were set free from a life of addiction, but never one that involved human trafficking. As I was truly celebrating and fully in awe of the power of God, I felt Him remind me of a few years in my life when I first had such a strong heart for justice, to the point where I went to Thailand to connect with different ministries and organisations there. On one of my missions trips to Thailand I remember clearly praying and asking God that I wanted to one day meet someone who had been redeemed from a past of trafficking women. I didn’t ever think that day would come. It brought such a fresh reminder of when I used to be so keen to see God move in the area of justice and for my first love for missions (JUST WHAT I PRAYED FOR BEFORE THIS TRIP!). More than anything I was amazed because it was something that I had prayed such a long time ago, but I felt God remind me that He hears my prayers, and that He answers them in perfect timing. I know that Pastor Phuong’s testimony is just the beginning and it is a clear sign of what God is doing in the nation of Vietnam. God is truly setting captives free and to be able to have witnessed a portion of that still blows my mind. God REALLY is SO GOOD!

Reflecting on this missions trip made me realise that God moves in powerful ways in every season. He moved powerfully not just through our team, but also through the first New Philly team that was sent to Vietnam last year. And I know the fruit of our trip will be different from what God has in store for the next team that goes. Even though it all looks different, one thing I am sure of and carry a deep confidence in is that God only has the best in store for those He loves, and He knows the very thing we need, whether it is a gentle whisper that He is in their midst, or a powerful fire-filled encounter. I cannot wait to see how God will continue to move in Vietnam. He really does have great things in store for this nation!! This trip to was so much fun and full of surprises and I know that so much of the grace we felt during our time there was definitely because of the prayers of the saints. Thank you for praying so faithfully and boldly for us! Let us be expectant of great testimonies not only from the mission field, but also as we walk with God day by day. Thank you!