Thuong Le's Testimony

Converge Southwest welcomes Pastor Thuong Le (pictured with his wife, Quyen Tran), who was recently recommended by the Converge Assessment Center as our newest Vietnamese church planter in California. Warner Avenue Baptist Church is coming alongside Pastor Thuong to provide office space, meeting space and support for this new ministry.

Here's Pastor Thuong's powerful testimony by which his heart for ministry was birthed from a place of loss, grief, questioning and compassion:

My first name is Thuong, middle is Ngoc and last name Le. I was born on Jun 4, 1958 in a church facility where my parents worked in my dad’s first call to be a pastor there under a poor village in the Central area of Vietnam.

I. Full account of my life:

When I was 2 years old, my parents moved to another church, in his second call. During the moving period, I was very sick, vomiting water. I cried during the 2 hours of travel by boat from the city to a mountain county on a small river.

When I was 5 years old, my younger sister died 5 hours after she ate a poison cake given by a neighbor Christian family. We did not have any medication to give her on time.

When I was 6 years old, in 1964, a big flood came to my village and the church property was ruined down by rain water and flood. On that night, my dad moved the tent of our family every time the water level raised, totaling 10 times. In the morning of the day after, I saw many people on the roofs of their houses crying loudly and yelling: “Save Our Soul Please!”  But, then nobody could save anyone, because the water moved very strong. We did not have any vehicle to save them. Suddenly after they called, the houses were covered by the swift water back and we never saw them again…  

After the flood, many sick, hungry people fell under homeless situations. We had to live under the tents for a long times afterward. My dad, being the only pastor in that village, did the social work for “relief”. He went to the city where people had money and food, asking for help for those in the country who were very hungry and had no safe place to live.

Then day after day, the hardship situation of the flood was past. The church facility had to rebuild on another bigger lot, higher and clearer, better than before.

My childhood time was very terrible and fearful because we were living in a war area. I could hear the bombs booming every day, the sounds of gun shots every night, and see the lights of planes every week. During that time we sought for protection in a cave and prayed very much to the Lord to keep us safe.

When I was 10 years old in 1968 my parents moved to the city area. I was in 4th grade. I had to walk to school through a small sand mountain in hot weather. It made my feet burn many times, but I did not have enough money to buy better shoes to cover my feet.

In 1970 I got a scholarship to study at a Christian school. I walked 1 hour from home to school, and in lunch times I had to stay in school for my afternoon periods. I was so hungry and asked the school neighborhood to give me some of their bread or rice.

In 1972, the war was getting harsher. Many people moved to my area, my dad was very busy in ministry to preach the good news and to build more churches.

In 1973, my older sister at the age of 15 was suicide because she fell in love with a boy in my dad’s church. She was afraid that my dad would not give her permission to do so. The bad communication within the family members, then brought the misunderstanding, and it was so terrible for us. 

During that time my dad’s ministry was very busy, almost he had no time for his family and children. The death of my older sister made my dad dream about her coming back every night and knock on the door. He would come out to the door and open when he heard her voice outside of the door, but he never saw her, then he would break down and cry. This kept going on for half a year. Then one afternoon, while my parents went to another church to visit and preach, my younger sister (2 years old) played in the back yard. She dropped her toy into the water can (the water level was 1 foot, but she was so short and she could not pick up). Then she tried to reach for the toy, and her feet were lift up from the ground, she could not stand up by herself again, while her head was covered by water, she couldn’t breathe, therefore she died immediately. I was the first one to see my younger sister die on that water can. I called for help, then my older brother came, but we could not save her back, because she was died.

After my sister died, I felt that my life was empty, and the life is not really meaning to me. Why? And why God could not protect them, when my dad was a pastor, servant of God, but where was God?

But God said to me heart that “what I do for you and what happen to your family, right now you can’t understand, but you will be known in the future.” Then I offered my life to him. I believe God and waiting for his plan to my life.

II. My conversion, spiritual growth and development:

In my age of 13 years old. After few months since my elder sister and my younger sister died (within 6 months), I discovered that life is so short. What is meaning of my life? What is happening after man should died? Where the body is going then? Where the soul of a man is going to? Many questions appeared in my mind, I could not sleep in many days, then I opened the bible every night and finally I found the answers from the Bible. I was believed God and I known exactly on that time; The Holy Spirit came to my heart and guided me and cleared for all the questions what I have had, and then I believe God, and growth up by the worship times in the church on Sunday, the reading bible and daily praying. Then until a day I cried to the Lord: “Lord, I offered my life to you”. I said.    

I went to school every day through a Veterans hospital. There I got to see many people mourning from wounds by gun shots or by rocket. Some of them were already dead and many people cried for their loss and grief. I wondered in my thinking how I could comfort them. And where would their soul be? Who would comfort them and preach to them?

In a Youth Conference of the churches in my areas, my heart heard the call from God by a speaker, (Isaiah 6:8). “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” I prayed to God: “Here am I, send me!”

I went to the Institute of the Bible and Theology (B.A Degree) in the fall of 1974. I studied for 1 year then the communist came and took over the country. After that I studied one more year until summer 1976, then the Institute of Bible and Theology was closed and taken over by the government. They made it into a hotel for communist veterans and until today they will not give back to the church.

1. The First Call into Ministry:

Therefore since the fall of 1976-1978, I came back to my parents’ house and church, I assisted my dad helping him as the director for the youth ministry specialized in Music and Sunday school. During the night time I spent time to study in the Adults High School and graduate high school in 1978. In Danang

2. The Big Challenge in my life: (Moving and Marriage)

In the time I went to the Institute of the Bible and Theology, (B.A) I had some good friends, and then in the summer 1977, I went to them to visit. They lived very far from my home, in South VN, more 1200 km (800 miles). When I was visiting my friends I met a very beautiful girl who wore a red dress. She caught my attention as a rose growth up among grass. However, my dad would not agree because he felt it was too far from my home and the government did not give a travel document or a permit for him to go. Then I keep in touch by mail with her, my lover, and waited for the door to open in His time. In that time, I tried to take a musical examination which was arranged by the government for the young talents, I was chosen rank number 1/40, but because I was a Biblical and Theological Institute student background, they denied me to study. On that time, my mother in law, because she love her daughter to much, she applied for me to move to her family as a son in law, even thought that time we were not married. The paper was accepted by the local government, and then I moved to my wife’s house and got married on March 15, 1979. That time my dad received the travel document and travel permit to come and help me. That was why she became my wife from there.

3. A miracle in my life:

I never forgot was on the day before our wedding party, I went out to prepare the party place and a fresh coconut dropped itself from the tree on my head. I passed out for 30 minutes then I woke up, I saw many people crying around me. I asked why you crying did. They told me what happen and I knew I was lucky to be living.

Life became more difficult for us as a student of bible and theology. I could not have a work permit. Then we tried to move to Saigon city, where the churches needed more workers, but at that time, they were afraid that I did not have a work permit, therefore we stayed a short time and came back to my wife’s county. Then the communist took me and put me in the jail, because they said I was escaping from VN and now I came back for political work by a foreign country. After over 7 months, I was released from the jail. My wife was pregnant 2 months before I was in prison, then I came home, my wife bore a first son in Jan 1984.

4. Experience from Death to life:

Life had more and more difficult circumstances. I and two of my brothers in law tried to build by ourselves a small sail and oar boat, no engine, because we did not have enough money to buy it. The boat was only 1m wide and 5m long, only three of us could escape. We planned this journey for a long time (2 years) to learn how to use a magnet to show the direction, and how long the wind could be, and wind direction on what season. Then we prepared 2 pieces of sail, 70 liters water and food for us in one month. My wife said good bye to me and I promised her that I would sponsor her when I came to a safe place.

We left from VN in the evening time, nobody could see us, and then we oared our boat for a whole day to the mouth of the river, where the place connects to the ocean. After a short meditation, we went out to the ocean by oars. That time was rainy and not windy, then the wind came on the next day and brought our boat very fast, after 2 day we came to international water. We saw almost 20 international ships, but none of them rescued us. Then we continued to the Philippines, but on the third day of our trip, the storm came, and our boat was shaken up very much. Three times our boat dipped down under water face, but after that our boat raised up again, because we built the boat with 2 empty parts keeping air inside liked a ball. We dropped out all the things we had, and then kept only the water for us. In the fifth day was clear sky but no wind, because the storm therefore we lost our magnet to direct for our direction. But on that time we could go by to see the star on night time, and the sun rise, sun set on day time. We waited for 3 days but no more wind, so we make a decision to turn back to Vietnam, because it was so difficult for us to continue to the Philippines. We prayed to God that if he wanted us to go back, please give us the wind from Northeast to Southwest instead the wind we asked before from Southwest to Northeast when we started out. Praise the Lord for after 2 hours of prayer, the Lord gave us the wind to go. We spent nigh time to go by both wind and oars, in the morning of the 9th day, we saw a communist ship from VN to Singapore, and they did not pick us up. Then 30 minutes later the Norwegian ship rescued us, and then they said to us: “Your boat was in a whirlpool point of the sea, we could not go when we saw your small boat in a dangerous area” We praise Lord and thank you for Norwegian boat and people have rescued us.

III. My Work History:

Then we came to Singapore refugee camps and stayed there for 2 months. This time was confusing for many people about where they should go. For me, to be saved by a Norwegian ship and I read on the news and prayer for churches around the world, I found out that in Norway they need a pastor for the outreach ministry. Then I confirmed about the country I should go, beside of that, I would like to go to Norway to sponsor my wife earlier than another country too, then I started to study Norwegian languages, I did as a volunteer preacher in the camp to do the sacraments and leader in worship services. Then we moved to Bataan Philippines and stayed there for 5 months to study Norwegian languages. On March 10th, 1986 we came to Norway in a winter season, full of snow that was a first time for me to see and experience about the snow.

1. Education and Ministry in Norway:

I started my outreach ministry in Oslo city and study Norwegian in the same time in Oslo University. I was ordained minister in August 1988 by supported of The Baptist Union of Norway. I established a church from 1 family growth up to 200 members when I left to another call to Sweden. We had 4 more children born in Norway, in the same hospital.

I spent time to study 2 years in B.A. (1987-1989) of Music and Bible at Fjelhall Mission, and the same time I studied B.A. in Biblical Studies Degree (1989) Then, 1 year at Norwegian Lutheran School of Theology 1990-1991 (Certified in Christian Education ). I traveled and preached the Gospel for many cities in Norway and many countries in West Europe and East Europe by partnership with Norwegian Mission to the East. After that I studied Bachelor in Theology Degree of VNM European Theological Seminary and graduated in 1992.

2. Education and Ministry in Sweden:

In 1993, The Baptist Union of Sweden called me to be a developer and pastor for the Vietnamese in Sweden. Then we moved to Sweden and worked there until 1997. Study at Swedish Church Minister Program in the fall 1996. 

3. Education and Ministry in United State of America:

In December of 1997, I received a call to be a developer and pastor for Vietnamese Community in Orange County. My wife had a licensed for home child care provider, my oldest son was finished 4 years in Navy, all children study well at school and we praise God for a new opportunity and happy family life.

From 1997, I started to study Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry Degree, in Union University of California and graduated in June 2000,

Since 1998-2004. I worked as Pastor Developer for Vietnamese Community in Orange County.

In January to July 2005 I worked 1 year as a project manager for Sam Construction Partnership Company in Orange County.

From September 2005 to August  2010. I was serving as Senior Pastor for Vietnamese Baptist Church of New Orleans. Helping the people after Hurricane Katrina Victim.

From 2010 September to December 2011, I worked as Mission Pastor for Sagemont Baptist Church in Houston TX.

From January 2012 to May 2014. Mission Pastor for Summer Grove Baptist Church in Shreveport , LA.

From June 2014 to present. Mission Pastor for Global Mission for Asian. Teaching, Preaching for Vietnamese Community In Europe, USA, and Asia.

I became US citizens from November 2007

I have received award certification of ESL Teacher Training course, driving by Louisiana Baptist Convention in August 2008 at New Orleans First Baptist Church. 

I pray that God will open door for me to use all of my talents and spirituals gifts for the Kingdom of God with your church here in Warner Baptist Church. Huntington Beach. CA.

May our Lord guide me, send me, and help me in ministry together with you to serve Him.  Amen.

    Office

  • 6116 Arosa Street
  • San Diego, CA 92115