By Dan Wooding
HAMPTON, VA (November 7, 2000) -- Dr. Paul Tran-Dinh-Ai, also known as Paul Ai, a leader of the Underground Church in Vietnam, has won some 30 Vietnamese to Christ is his new hometown of Hampton, Virginia. The much-persecuted leader has now urged American Christians to "wake up and see the mission field in their own back yard" and has shared lessons he has learned under persecution.
Dr. Tran-Dinh-Ai, who was General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God in Vietnam and also the coordinator for the Vietnam Interdenominational Christian Fellowship comprised of 18 denominations, is now based at Bethel Temple in Hampton, Virginia, after having been deported from his homeland after many arrests, explained his new ministry to the Vietnamese community in Hampton.
"God has blessed us in reaching out to the Vietnamese community around our city," he said. "In the past six months since we started our ministry, until the end of October, we were able to win 30 Vietnamese into His Kingdom. Of these, 24 were trained in the first level (soul winning) and 16 are under training in the second level, as cell group leaders.
"Our vision is for this congregation to grow to 100 members in this first year. The plan is to disciple the members every Thursday evening, and every other Saturday, so they will be equipped to reach out to others. Together we will continue to multiply the disciples and prepare them to reach-out to the more than two millions Vietnamese here in US before they will able to go back to Vietnam with the Good News of Jesus Christ to reach the whole nation of eighty millions Vietnamese for Jesus."
Dr. Tran-Dinh-Ai, who was once a Buddhist monk, revealed that that when he left Vietnam, the leaders of 18 denominations came together to pray for him. He said he was so moved when they prayed, "Lord, we feel that Paul Ai is not moving to America as a refugee, but we send him to be a missionary to the United States of America."
The Vietnamese Christian leader then appealed for American Christians to become involved in reaching out with the Gospel to the more than two million Vietnamese refugees living in the United States. "I also need Americans to pray for our outreach here and also support us," he said.
Dr. Tran-Dinh-Ai, who came to Christ some 30 years through the work of American missionaries, also stated that there is more than two million Vietnamese living in other countries of the world, as well as many Vietnamese workers who are on temporary overseas work assignments.
"They all need to hear the Gospel of Christ and I hope that Christians around the world will consider sharing the Good News with my people living in their countries," said Dr. Tran-Dinh-Ai.
LESSONS FROM PERSECUTION
In conclusion he addressed what he has learned from years of persecution. "For me, my persecution in Vietnam was the way God used to train me and to put me along with Him so He could teach me many lessons that He needed me to learn, which was how to help build the Church in Vietnam, and also how to build the Assemblies of God of Vietnam as a structure," he said.
"God used that time to also teach me how to love His whole Body, not only one denomination; he made me to pour myself out, and so I was able to become the coordinator for 18 denominations in Vietnam for the Vietnam Interdenominational Christian Fellowship. For nearly three years, I brought many Churches together and every year we would hold three or four unity seminars. I would like the Church outside to use the same model: to bring all THE resources that God has given you, together for the benefit the whole Body of Christ.
"To me, persecution is in one way not good because the Church has no freedom, but on the other side, you can see it made the Church pure and the Church there is really on fire for God. And in Vietnam, I have found that the more the Church is persecuted, the fewer problems they have."
"A MODERN DAY APOSTLE"
One American pastor, who visited Paul many times in Vietnam during visits to give AIDS seminars, is Bruce Sonnenberg, president of He Intends Victory, based in Irvine, California. He said, "As soon as you meet Paul, you sense the quality and depth of the commitment to Jesus Christ. But the power of the Holy Spirit is evident in a very real way as well. Whoever gave him the New Testament name of Paul certainly chose the right name. He is truly a modern day apostle."