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Boots on the Ground (Newsletter 2-11 Blog)

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By John Wolfram

When I was a new convert I heard a missionary ask the question, “Where in the world is the world?” Then he answered,

“You’re standing on it.” Yes, our world is where we live, and Jesus needs boots on the ground to fulfill the Great Commission.

Boots on the ground is a term used to convey the belief that military success can only be achieved through the direct physical presence of troops in a conflict area. The spiritual parallels are obvious: Boots on the ground means success can only come through direct physical presence of believers on site, in this world. Jesus taught this, and his disciples obeyed. With our new appointment as coordinator of Vietnamese Ministries in North America, we are here to assist you in reaching the Vietnamese people in your communities.

Like it or not, the world we live in is changing dramatically. In my lifetime we have gone from Elvis to Justin Bieber, from Hank Aaron to Barry Bonds, from the Chevy to Toyota, and from telegrams to e-mails. The “all-American” diet is a thing of the past, and it is reflected in our fast food chains. We can order burritos for breakfast, sushi for lunch, and curry for dinner.

Our changing culture has brought the mission field to our front door. In the late 1800s D. L. Moody said, “Reach the big cities, and you will reach the nation.” If he were alive today, he would say, “Reach the cities, and you will reach the world!” More than eighty languages are spoken in Los Angeles on a daily basis. In cities like San Francisco and New York a Chinese person can go to school, marry, and live most of his or her life with little or no interaction with a non-Chinese. Many immigrants are diverse, educated, and have an aggressive entrepreneurial spirit that is reshaping America. The fields are white and ready to harvest. Jesus needs boots on the ground.

My introduction to Vietnam came through Uncle Sam. Twice I was sent to fight while serving with the Underwater Demolition/SEAL teams—first in 1968 and then in 1970. I lost eight friends and teammates and was wounded myself during those years. I had just turned twenty-one. During my last tour, while high on LSD, I came close to ending my life in a Saigon hotel. However, God graciously intervened. Soon after, God led me to a United Pentecostal church after I saw a revival notice in a local paper. On my first visit, I was filled with the Holy Spirit and baptized in the name of Jesus. Shortly thereafter, God called me into the ministry.

Little did I know then that God had plans for me to return to Vietnam—this time carrying a Bible, not an M-16 rifle. His call came unexpectedly while visiting a refugee camp in the Philippines, full of boat people escaping oppression in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. I had never felt anything so compelling before. God filled me with an insatiable passion to join Him in reaching this nation. It took a few more years of wrestling with the Lord before my size eleven boots stepped once again on Vietnam soil in 1993.

In a country with more than 93 million people who are predominantly Buddhists, with less than 2 percent of the population claiming to be Christians, the challenge is great. However, following the Lord’s leading has paid off The events that occurred after I obeyed the Lord were nothing short of miraculous. Those early days were filled with much suspense. Clandestine evangelism while evading the ever-watchful eyes of the police was nerve racking. But God protected us as we sowed much seed, and hundreds were baptized in the name of Jesus and filled with the Holy Ghost as a result. Our persistence has paid off

Another huge breakthrough came about recently through the assistance of several young Vietnamese students we brought to ACTS Bible School in the Philippines to train and disciple. More than 580 pastors, evangelists, and church workers have been converted as a result. God has also given me favor with a Vietnamese leader to whom I first ministered nineteen years ago. He has been operating a Bible school for many years and is in the process of building a second. He is allowing our converts to teach Apostolic doctrine to all of his students! Global Missions has encouraged us to continue making trips to establish this new group. The future for Vietnam is bright.

While revival is taking place abroad, let’s not forget the one and a half million Vietnamese who live in the United States and Canada. We are praying to connect Oneness Vietnamese leaders in North America with our new converts in Vietnam. Asia needs to reach Asia. But we need more boots on the ground at home to accomplish this. Please consider this challenge, and ask God to help you become more sensitive to your surroundings. Join us in prayer that God will raise up soul winners to reach into the Vietnamese community—in North America and in Vietnam. With God all things are possible. Remember, the Lord is the true soul winner. If we do our part, He will do His. Jesus needs boots on the ground!

For assistance reaching the Vietnamese community please contact the Wolframs at johnwolframgme.com or their website johnwolfram.com. They have Vietnamese doctrinal tools that can help you. They are also available to minister to your church. For more information on Vietnamese Evangelism in the United States and Canada, please contact the director of Multicultural Ministries Don Hanscom at dhanscom@upci.org.

John Wolfram joined the US Navy in 1967, assisted in the Apollo 10 astronaut and space recovery, and was the first frogman in the water to rescue Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins after their historical moon landing* John is the author of Splashdown, The Rescue of a Navy Frogman, published in 2007

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