A well-known evangelist from India named Ravi Zacharias, tells this story in his book “Deliver Us From Evil.”  When Ravi went to Vietnam in 1971, his interpreter was a fine Christian young man named Hien Pham.  After Ravi left, he did not have further contact with Hien for the next 17 years.  Then one day, Hien called him and shared that he was now out of Vietnam.  When Ravi asked how did he escape, Hien told him this story.

He was arrested by the Communist authorities and charged with helping the Americans during the war.  While in jail, he was not allowed to read anything except Communist propaganda.  As time went on, he began to soften against this godless doctrine, and as a result, he started doubting his own Christian beliefs.  He wondered if those who taught him Christian doctrines had somehow deceived him.  So, he decided to stop praying and cease thinking about Christianity from then on.  But the very next day, he was assigned to cleaning the prison toilets.  As he emptied the trash cans, he noticed a piece of paper with English writing on it.  He quickly put it in his pocket.  Later on, after his roommates had fallen asleep, he used a flashlight to read the paper.  As he began to read, he was overcome with emotion by what it said:

And we know that in all things work together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake, we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”[1]

Hien was weeping as he finished reading. So, he silently cried out to God, asking forgiveness. He discovered later that a camp official was using pages from a confiscated Bible as toilet paper. For some unknown reason, Hien was soon let out of prison. That’s when, along with some friends, he began to make plans to escape from Vietnam. By the time they were ready to make their getaway, some 53 people had joined the group. But just days before their departure, four Communists agents showed up and interrogated him about the rumored plot. Hien vehemently denied it and was let go. But his dishonesty troubled him, and he became disgusted with himself. So, he vowed never to lie again. The escape date was reset, and just before they were getting ready to leave, the same four men came back and started questioning him again. This time he confessed to the escape plan. To his great surprise, they wanted to escape too.

So, at the appointed time, all 58 people boarded a boat and sailed away. However, they soon ran into a fierce storm. At first, Hien thought God had arranged all this for them to escape, but now he began to doubt because it looked like they would sink and be lost at sea. But he would quickly discover God had, in fact, planned it, by making sure that these four Communist men who joined them were well-trained seamen, and with their talent and abilities, they were able to weather the storm and land safely in Thailand. From there, Hien was able to make it to the United States. There may be some who would scoff at this and say it was just good luck or timing, but for those of us who believe that God guides us and knows every step, this was no coincidence. So the next time things don’t go your way, think about this story, and it may help you keep the faith.

Sometimes we tend to dismiss people who come unexpectedly into our lives because we hold the right to choose those we want to interact with. But sometimes God allows people to join us on the highway of life to carry out His purpose for our lives. This was certainly the instructions we find in the Scriptures where it says: Remember to welcome strangers because some who have done this have welcomed angels without knowing it.[2] The best way to find out if they are there for our good is to greet them with love and a smile. Their reaction will tell you all you need to know. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

[1] Romans 8:28-39

[2] Hebrews 13:2

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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