I am not the first to tell this story and I probably won't be the last. This is not a love story. This is a story of faith, obedience and conviction.
I first heard of the name Hien Pham from Lee Concepcion one of our Pastors in Victory Pioneer. I was so blessed with what I heard that I knew I had to share it as well. As I did my research on Hien, I did not find a lot of personal information about him except that he is the close friend of
Ravi Zacharias, Evangelist and Christian Apologist. Ravi was the first to tell the story of Hien in his Book Deliver us from Evil published in 1996 and he frequently shares his story in his talks and sermons.
Pre: Fall of Vietnam
Vietnam fell in 1975 and shortly after, because of the work he did prior, Hien was arrested. Accusations were that of aiding and abetting Americans. He was in and out of jail and during one long jail term, he was cut off from reading anything in the English language and was restricted to communist propaganda in Vietnamese and French. The sole purpose .... To indoctrinate him against the west and more importantly the ideals of the Christian faith!
I will not pray anymore
Reading only Marx and Engels took its toll on Hien. He told himself…
“Maybe I have been lied to”
“My whole life has been governed by lies”
“Maybe the west has deceived me”
“Maybe there is no God”
One day, after a continuous overload Marxism and Engelsism, he eventually gave in and made up his mind. Hien came to a decision that he would no longer think about his Christian Faith ever again and cease from praying starting the next day.
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through zhim who loved us.
38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Hien wept that night. He hasn’t read a Bible for a long time and on the day he reads oneagain, the message could not have been more relevant for somebody who was on the verge of surrender. He asked forgiveness from the Lord for this would have been the first day of the decision he made to forget about his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Figuring out that the officials were using the pages of the Bible as toilet paper, the following day, He went to the camp commander requesting to be assigned to the Latrine on a regular basis. Each day he would pick up a portion of the scripture clean it so he can read it during his nightly devotion. He did not cease trusting God and putting his faith on our Lord until the day came that he was finally released from prison.
As many Vietnamese did during that time, Hien also planned to escape the country by building a boat with several of his countrymen and sail to Thailand. Everything was going according to plan when a four Vietcongs knocked on his door a couple of days before their planned departure. “We heard that you are trying to escape the country! Is this true?” They asked.
Hien denied it and made up a story to distract them. With no evidence of his planned escape, the Vietcongs left with reluctance. Hien, though he was relieved was disappointed for lying. He was convicted by the Holy Spirit. He repented and told the Lord. “Here I go again Lord, trying to manipulate my own destiny, too unteachable in my spirit to really believe that you can lead me past my obstacle. If the Vietcongs come back, I will tell them the truth”.
Finally the day of their departure had arrived. A few hours before they set sail, the Vietcongs went back. “We have our sources and we know that you are trying to escape” they said.
With no hesitation, Hien replied “It is true, I and fifty three others. What will you do to me? Will you be sending me back to prison?”
The Vietcongs leaned and whispered their reply “No. We want to go with you”.
One more test of Faith
In 1988 Ravi Zacharias received a call while he was in Vancouver and immediately he recognized the voice on the other line. It was his long lost friend calling him from Los Angeles. The two reconnected and Hien shared this incredible story of his which Ravi joyfully shares to this day. Today Hien resides in California and is a business man after finishing his studies in Berkely. He continues to serve the Lord our God.
God’s message to me when I heard this story was that there was that He would never leave me nor forsake me no matter what. As I was writing this story God gave me another message and this time it was about my convictions. Are they the right ones? and if they are do I live up to them no matter what?
Perhaps it’s no accident that you are reading this. Open your ears and heart to what God is trying to tell you. I hope you were blessed with this story as I have.
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Deliver us from Evil by Ravi Zacharias Published 1996
National Day of Prayer Address posted by Ravi Zacharias June 9 2008