Vietnam Split - Chapter 1
CHAPTER 1 – The Golden Time - 1956 to 1999
In 1957, the first Workers arrived in Vietnam. They were Fred Allen from Queensland, Australia and Maurice Archer from New Zealand. In early 1960, t he first Sister Workers arrived. They were Bonnie Dahlin and Phyllis Munn from Western USA. The natives were impressed that the Sisters spoke Vietnamese so beautifully and fluently. The Sisters stayed in Vietnam from 1960-65 when it wasn’t considered safe for them to be there; and returned again in 1971-75.
In 1958, Fred and Maurice began holding Gospel Meetings in their bach at 123 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan Street, District 3, Saigon. This Mission lasted for several years. Maurice only stayed a short time and then Fred’s brother Edwin Allen arrived. The Workers had no jobs and didn’t attend a school.
In Saigon in 1961 in the Gospel Meetings of Phyllis Munn and Bonnie Dahlin, Nguyễn Thanh Hoa and Vu Ngoc Châu and were the first natives to PROFESS. Both men were 21 years old and were from Saigon. Uncle Châu was a Protestant English teacher from North Vietnam. Uncle Hoa was from South Vietnam and worked in an imprint factory . Uncle Hoa wrote: Châu and I both PROFESSED the same night in a sense, but later on he told us that he did not RAISE HIS HAND when Phyllis tested the meeting, so they kept him back after all went home, and they talked him to PROFESS after a few hours later. Yet, his mind was not set until some months later in that year...
Uncle Châu introduced Mr. and Mrs. Nguyễn Huu Bau to Fred Allen and they came to the Gospel Meetings. At the time, they were 32 and 28 years old and had five children. Two more children were born later.
Mr. Bau wrote: By chance I met the WAY OF GOD, and both of us PROFESSED on the same night in 1961. After 6 months, my whole family came to the GOSPEL MEETINGS, not only to hear but also to ask many questions that many other religions couldn’t answer! The principal thing that touched us to PROFESS was the IMAGE OF GOD that we could see through the living lives of the WORKERS. Seeing the very simple and friendly WORKERS, my wife said, ‘I saw Jesus in their life.’
Both of us used to belong to the Protestant way. I was disappointed in the Protestant way which I had grown up in since a little boy. I respected and feared the Lord with all my heart, because I felt that was the way of God. I learned by heart many chapters in the Bible. I worked with all my best in the service. I became the famous Chief of the young people. Owing to many good results I got a big reward from the Chairman, but the more I worked, the more I saw there are many things that were not suitable with the Bible. So I issued a magazine to ask the leaders to correct things to the right way as Jesus taught. They refused and forbade! This is the main reason I got away from them! Today, I am faced with the same thing!!In June, 1961, the first Sunday Fellowship Meeting was held at “the Brothers’ bach at 378D Đien Bien Phu Str, District 3, Saigon (from June to November because there were a few Friends with four Workers). We were the first married couple in The Way in Vietnam. In December, 1961, our home also was the first place for the Fellowship Meeting with bread and cup. There were present “only Châu, Hoa, two of us, and two or three more, but they stopped soon!”Eventually,four of my children also opened their houses for Fellowship Meetings with bread and cup.
After Mr. Nguyễn Huu Bau and his wife professed, the Workers did not ask them to make any changes in their appearance because we know very well so long time how to live please the Lord. So now, we just put it into practice. They gave us no rules, only preaching. The wearing long hair in buns is a custom for Vietnamese females. People consider it is charming. In God’s Way, Workers continue to encourage female Friends to wear long hair with buns. The Sister Friends and Workers wear skirts and drive motorbikes wearing skirts.
Mr. Bau wrote: Because I myself understood that it’s the Way of God, Fred didn’t tell us anything about 2x2 history and about when the way started. They preached and lived in The Way that was nearer with the Bible than other ways I had met. Through the past 50 years, he had the great privilege to meet thousands of Friends and hundreds of Workers in 9 countries such as London, Paris, Australia and USA...and to send email letters to 50 ones within 18 places throughout the world. Especially we had a very good opportunity to welcome many Workers and Friends from abroad, particularly the American soldiers by the time the war in Vietnam. We did enjoy so much in God’s Way. How wonderful it is! We were satisfied by the deed of both sides, spiritual and material. We were so happy to tell to some of our friends and relatives about knowing the Way of God.
First Baptism: In early 1962 at a swimming pool in Saigon, the first baptism was held. Approximately 10 people had professed by this time and were baptized, including Mr. and Mrs. Nguyễn Huu Bau, who were re-baptised, having been baptized previously in a Protestant church.
First Conventions: The first Conventions were held at the Brother Workers’ bach in Saigon from 1962 to 1982, and at the Youth Hostel at Dalat from 1963-1966. After 1982 there were no Conventions held in Vietnam because the government didn’t allow us to hold a big gathering such as a Convention.
First Native Workers: The two first Vietnamese natives to offer their lives for the work were Nguyễn Thanh Hoa in April, 1967 and Vu Ngoc Châu in August that same year.
Uncle Hoa wrote: Before I met with the Gospel, my family was just like the great crowd of Vietnamese who practise the worship of our ancestors and grandparents. I never called myself a Buddhist. My younger brother brought me to Phyllis Munn and Bonnie Dahlin's batch in order to study English [they used the English Gospel text to teach in their classes]. Then they brought me to Fred Allen, who had many English classes and Gospel Meetings. The deepest impression from Fred's meetings was ‘letter kills, but the Sprit makes alive.’
When my brother and I professed, my widowed mother felt sad at first, but she professed one year before her death at the age of 86. One of my elder sisters and a niece also professed. My younger brother did not raise his hand but he went to the Wednesday meetings with all who professed and kept coming with the group. A few years after 1975, Bonnie Dahlin told him to stop coming to meeting, so he has kept away since. He is now in the USA. My professing mother and sister died many years ago. Now my niece professes but gets upset with Darrel T and spends her time to study in a nursing school over in America. She keeps the faith in her heart but doesn't come to mtg. I don't blame her. Now I have no professing relatives alive in Vietnam. Nevertheless some of my unprofessing relatives keep giving me hope, as they are happy whenever I stop over at their homes to see them.
Uncle Châu read in a magazine about the history of the formation of the Protestant church during the Year of Jubilee (1975). When he realized it was founded by man, he decided it was wrong and so he left the Protestant church and began to follow the Workers Way.
Uncle Châu’s parents had 10 children and they all belong to the Protestant church. Only Uncle Châu is the only one who professed and he is the only one still living in Vietnam. Some of his siblings left VN after Liberation Day (April 30, 1975), and some left some years later.
V ũ Trung Hiền, Uncle Châu’s youngest brother wrote: “A few years before she went to be with the Lord, in 1992, my mother wrote to Brother Châu: "My dear son, I have 10 children, and I have given you, my precious pearl, to God, as my tithe. I have no regret in offering you to him although sometimes, I can't help wondering who will take care of you, especially when I am half the globe away from you, and you are living under difficult situation over there..."
Minh Thanh wrote: All foreign Workers had to leave VN in 1975. Châu and Hoa continued to keep the folks very well, safe and increasing in all ways! Uncle Châu is a friendly, easy to get close to man and everybody esteemed Uncle Hoa, who was a quiet man filled with the Spirit of God in his words and deeds.For 50 years, everything kept running well on the foundation that we do enjoy. In 1990, our country opened the door to foreigners, so the foreign Workers came here again and most were Canadians.
Giving the Church a Name: In 1967, Fred Allen registered the church with the Vietnamese Government as the Christian Mission in Vietnam ("Sứ Mạng các Thánh Đồ") and gave his name as the responsible leader. The four Friends on the managing committee are: Miss Lan, Đào Hữu Phỉ (passed away), Nguyễn Huu Bau, and Nguyễn Thanh Hoa. The Vietnamese Friends “don't mind what the name is. We just want the leaders should follow what is taught in the Bible and have the image of Jesus Christ in their life.
Right after Liberation Day, Uncle Hoa made a declaration to the Government that Uncle Hoa and Châu were continuing the Christian Mission in Vietnam. Uncle Châu and Uncle Hoa were and still are the registered leaders with the VN government. The Church is registered one time with the VN government. The house owners register their church affiliation one time. When there is a new place of gathering (a Meeting), the house owner has to register it with the local authorities. Foreigners are not allowed to preach to native Vietnamese--only to foreigners.
First Native Sister Worker: In 1970, Ho Thư Anh from Saigon professed. In 1972, when she was 22 years old, she was the first native Sister Worker to enter the work, and Phyllis Munn was her companion. She left the work ten years later in 1982. Băng Ngoc was another native sister worker in the early times. One time she visited friends in a very strict area and was captured and put into prison. After many months they let her go free. After prison she stopped the work because of fear. She later married and moved to Canada. The two native brother workers still kept on through many hard conditions. Uncle Hoa contracted tuberculosis and recovered .
The Overseers of Vietnam from 1957 to the present have been: Alex Mitchell (from New Zealand?), Fred Allen (from Australia), Vu Ngoc Châu and Nguyễn Thanh Hoa (from Saigon, Vietnam), Cliff Toane (from BC, Canada/Hong Kong), Jim Chafee (from South Dakota, USA/Hong Kong/China.)
Hong Kong evolved into a staff that covered all of China, including Vietnam.It was when Overseer Jim Chafee left that VN became a separate jurisdiction from China and the Canadians took over--which was the beginning of the present distress. Starting in 2009, Darrel Turner (from Alberta, Canada) and Lyle Shultz (from Saskatchewan, Canada/India) have been Vietnam Overseers.
When Fred Allen went to Vietnam, Alex Mitchell was the Overseer over Singapore, Malaysia, Borneo, Thailand and Vietnam until 1974 when his memory failed and he returned to New Zealand, where he died in 1980 at the age of 84. In 2014, his brother Edwin Allen is still living in Queensland, Australia. Edwin also preached in Vietnam.
Recently when he learned that Alex Mitchell had been the VN Overseer when he professed, Mr. Bau wrote: Truly to say, I didn’t know Fred and Edwin had an Overseer! The VN natives viewed Fred Allen as the Missionary who brought the Way of God to them. Until “the Canadian Workers came, we never knew there is a position in God’s Way of "Overseer." We just heard that the younger Worker will obey the older, and the Friends obey the Workers, and the Workers are under the leading of Holy Spirit and live as Jesus taught in the Bible.
1975 to 1990
After discussing the Vietnamese question with Cliff Toane,
From 1992 to 1999, Cliff Toane and Jim Chafee came to Vietnam for very brief visits, “sometimes in a year, both of them couldn’t stay even one month!” During those years, Châu was the designated responsible Overseer. However, the Overseers ruled from afar.
Vietnam - Home|
Vietnam Split Intro
Vietnam Split Ch1
Vietnam Split Ch2
|To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. - Jesus Christ speaking to Saul, see Act 26:18, see Salvation through Jesus Christ.|