Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks in Vietnam

On Thanksgiving Day, Melissa Hinnen, information officer for the General Board of 
Global Ministries, shared fellowship and fresh fruit with a Bible study group in Vietnam. 
(photo courtesy of M. Hinnen) 
It’s well past my bedtime here in Vietnam and I just spent my first Thanksgiving away from my family. I contemplated ordering the prix fixe ‘Thanksgiving’ meal that was being offered to tourists but I realized that it’s not the food I’m missing. It’s the buzz of the kitchen, gathering with family, everyone lending a hand to bring together a wonderful meal. So I ate a delicious one pot meal and was thankful for the nourishment, for the people who prepared it, and for the opportunity to spend time in this country where in spite of many obstacles, the United Methodist Church continues to grow.

After eating Thanksgiving dinner by myself in a nice restaurant, I met up with Global Ministries missionaries Ut Van To and Karen Vo-To and visited a house church. A dozen of us gathered around Van’s (our host), dining room table for their weekly Bible study. The group included new Christians who were deepening their faith as well as pastors from various churches in the area.

There was a time of welcoming and a time of praise music followed by a reading of Mark 10:46-53 – the story of the blind man, Bartimaeus asking Jesus to heal his eye sight. The people tried to shut him up but he kept calling out to Jesus in spite of the people getting in his way. As I sat around a table with people who have continued to seek Christ - meeting in homes as the first Christians did, I saw the story of Bartimaeus in a new way. Some of the people in the group told me that their families did not accept their new faith but that they decided to continue anyway. Others have witnessed to their families and like Bartimaeus, their families now follow Jesus with new vision.

After praying for and with each other, Van brought out plates of fresh fruit and we had some time for fellowship. I explained to them that today in America is a day to spend time with family and to give thanks for our blessings. Today I was thankful for their hospitality and for our global church family that continues to grow.

To learn more about Karen's ministry in Vietnam, visit the missionary bio page of Karen Vo-To. To give through the Advance, link to the Advance's secure page at Giving for Missionary Karen Vo-To.

To learn more about Ut's ministry, visit the missionary bio page of Ut To. Make an online donation to Ut's ministry through the Advance, the designated giving channel of the United Methodist Church at Giving for Missionary Ut To.

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