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Trip to Vietnam to spread Gospel

PROCTORVILLE — Four decades ago, Vietnam was a country torn in half, dividing the citizens of United States into hawks and doves as a seemingly interminable war there raged.

Today, that same Southeast Asian nation is mute on the world stage. But repression still reigns, especially against practicing Christians. Often church services are held in individuals’ homes, as part of an underground religious community.

That’s why two Lawrence Countians are joining fellow United Methodists from the state to help bring the Gospel to the Vietnamese.

On Wednesday Terry Jones, a lay reader at South Point United Methodist, and Greg Inboden, pastor of New Hope United Methodist, leave for Ho Chi Minh City, once known as Saigon, for a two-week mission trip.

“This came about a couple of years ago when our district, the Shawnee Valley, decided to take on a mission project in Vietnam,” Inboden said.

In order for a church to gain legal status from the Vietnamese government, it must have a structure in place, though not necessarily a church sanctuary.

“We have the freedom here to do what we want to do. Over there they have to be very careful,” the pastor said. “Within the second year, we had the funds to build the building.”

What the district has funded is an education building that will be dedicated on April 18, the last leg of Jones and Inboden’s trip.

First stop in the country will be the highlands of Vietnam, where Jones and Inboden will participate in a motorbike ride with other Americans throughout the country, visiting and encouraging pastors in their work. Then those bikes will be left with the pastors for their means of transportation.

“They have had in the past two years 10,000 dedicate their lives to Jesus Christ,” Jones said. “If you look at the numbers in that country, it is staggering. People who had led the house churches have been persecuted, lost their jobs, been thrown in jail, been persecuted by law enforcement. They have suffered like the Apostle Paul. These people are as close to that as we will ever see.”