God Was Not Finished

By and

In 1911, Alliance missionaries first brought the gospel to Vietnam. Over the next six decades, Alliance members gave generously to support workers throughout the country, from the streets of Hanoi to remote villages. We were privileged to have had a part in it, bringing the good news to highland tribespeople, first to the Hre and then the Bunong (Mnong).

Our memories are mostly of the highlands. Banmethuot was where we had lived with our four children. Then, in the Tet Offensive of 1968 the mission compound was destroyed, and eight of our colleagues were killed. Our family was away at the time. For years I struggled with the question, “Why were our lives saved when theirs were taken?”

Back in Banmethuot after the compound was rebuilt, we lived in the “pink” house. Our days were full. We had devised an alphabet and primers to teach reading. Our translation team had worked hard, producing portions of the New Testament, which the Bible Society printed separately. We had also published a hymnal (160 songs, 40 responsive readings). Periodically, Richard flew into Bunong country to teach.

But it all ended in March 1975. There was a huge battle, and Banmethuot was overrun. We were taken captive and held for close to eight months. We never had a time of closure with our Mnong people. Would we ever see them again? Would we be reunited with our four children, who were away at Dalat School? What happened to the Bunong Scriptures? Our own manuscripts were confiscated and never returned. Vietnam was closed to foreign missionary work, and we were reassigned to West Africa.

Years later, after we retired, Bunong refugees began coming to North Carolina. To our amazement we learned that our translation helper, Nkem, along with several other men, had continued working on the Scriptures. The New Testament was finished; we held a copy in our hands! And someone had found a way to reprint the hymnbook. They had preserved the books by hiding them in the ground or in the hollows of trees. In time, the entire Bunong Old Testament also was finished!

Even through the years of difficulty, the church had grown tremendously—and we celebrate all God has done!

In 1975 there were 60,000 believers in Vietnam. Today there are 1.2 million, most of whom are part of the Tin Lanh (Alliance) Church.

9 responses to God Was Not Finished

  1. Some of us were blessed to work with the very Bunong people you ministered to. The church continues to grow in Mondul Kiri. Some of the believers are even reaching out to other people groups near them. Disciples make disciples who make disciples. Thanks for your seed planting and hard work.

  2. This is an amazing story! The light cannot be extinguished by darkness.
    How wonderful to learn years later that the the New Testament was completed and the church had grown tremendously in Vietnam.
    Our God is mighty to save and His
    redeeming love prevails over violence, hatred and cruelty.

  3. So wonderful to see how God protects His work. We never should be discouraged as He is in charge, AND His Kingdom WILL come on earth as He wants it to be.

  4. “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void” God used not only the Word from your mouth, but from your pen in two different countries. Praise His Name.

  5. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Phillips for the great work in our country. I’m from Dalat, was 13 in 1975 and could relate to the events you talked about, as my father, an officer in the former Army, was held for 8 years. But as you said, God always finds a way, and His Words continue to spread!

  6. Great testimony, they were great colleagues in West Africa and a pleasure to work with

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