When he was three and a half years old, Vinh Chung fled Vietnam with his family in the aftermath of the war, becoming one of the hundreds of boat people in the South China Sea hoping for a better life. Despite pirates and days of drifting at sea, his family was rescued and eventually came to America with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Today their family holds twenty-one university degrees and an amazing faith legacy. Hear the story of Where the Wind Leads with Vinh Chung.
The Chung family was forced to leave Vietnam for various reasons and planned to travel to a refugee camp. However, God had other plans.
“We were wealthy… the Communists didn’t like wealthy people because in their minds the wealthy merchant class was the cause of all problems. On top of that, we were ethnically Chinese.
We knew at this point that hundreds of thousands were fleeing in rickety boats, so that was the route that we took. Once we left the country we were at the mercy of the winds and the tides and the pirates. The first boat we left on had 290 people crammed back to back; our group was divided into four smaller boats, towed out to sea, and left to die. My father had always believed in a higher power but he certainly did not have a relationship with God. While we were drifting there, my father got on his knees and cried out to God, saying ‘My family’s dying, we need water.’ Just then the skies darkened and it started to rain.” That created just enough water for the family to survive until being picked up by World Vision workers the next afternoon.
Vinh and his family were rescued and ended up in a refugee camp in Singapore before traveling to the United States. Vinh says the local church stepped up and served his family in amazing sacrificial ways. “There was a small Lutheran church that loved a family of ten that they knew nothing about; they sponsored us and helped us get on our feet. Through this ministry both of my parents learned about and accepted Jesus Christ… and all of the eleven children accepted Christ.”
How can the church get involved and serve refugees? Vinh has a few suggestions:
• Love those who are different from you
• Empower and train them to be self-sufficient
• Cultivate gratitude in every season
Vinh now serves on the board of World Vision, the very ministry that plucked him and his family out of the sea when he was a toddler. He gives all glory and credit to God.
“I am thankful for being in this country. When you have personal experience living in a world that doesn’t have freedom and you look at the freedom we have here, it’s just incredible.”