College. She graduated from the Alberta school in 1992, and then
signed up for two years of mission service on OM International’s
ship the Doulos.
She was convinced she had been rescued to rescue others.
When an opportunity came through another mission in 1999 to
return to the land of her birth, she took it. Seeing Saigon once
more, or Ho Chi Minh City as it was now called, she was gripped
by compassion for the plight of the very young and very old.
In the past, Asian families routinely cared for their elderly in
their homes. Today, younger people are caught up in the frantic
business of survival, with too little time, space or money. The old
and infirm often find themselves shunted off to Buddhist temples to finish
their days, dependent on the mercy of
monks and nuns for basic necessities.
Ironically, the Vietnamese call
Christianity “the religion that throws
away their grandparents.” Determined to show the difference true
faith in Christ can make, Luu opened a small house with 20
beds to shelter the elderly.
Later, a Christian couple donated a piece of land so she could
build a proper facility. She raised the funds and in 2004 began wel-
coming residents into what they called “Jesus’ House.”
Mrs. P was typical, with a son who abused and beat her when-
ever he was drunk. When the elderly woman’s two Buddhist daugh-
ters arranged for her to go to the home, she was at first so terrified of
being found by her son that she hid under the bed most of the time.
Nobody knew how old Mrs. Y was when she came to Jesus’
House. Born in China, she was taken to Vietnam at the age of
eight and sold to work for a family. She never had a chance for
schooling and when she eventually married, her gambler husband failed to support their children. She was forced to leave
them to work long, brutal hours as a water carrier. Three little
ones died in her absence – how, she never found out. The years
broke this woman in body and spirit.
When she first arrived at the home, Mrs. Y could only shuffle
around on her knees, unable to stand. Her spirit was full of bitterness and she was so unhappy that Luu was afraid she would commit suicide. But with the passage of time and much prayer, Mrs. Y
started absorbing the message of God’s love. She accepted Jesus, and
as her spirit healed, so did her body so she was able to walk upright.
So far, 82 elderly residents have found a safe, loving and happy
home through Luu’s efforts, and 60 of them have put their faith
in Christ. Relationships have also been built and maintained
with residents’ families, many of whom are among the very poor.
In 2011 God answered Luu’s prayers to expand this ministry.
A Christian family offered a free parcel of land, and a building
project is now underway.
Another deep concern of Cindy’s is the lack of facilities for
the terminally ill. In many Vietnamese hospitals the wards set
aside for the dying offer only minimum care, in less than hygienic
conditions. Patients must depend on relatives to stay with them
and tend to their needs, fetch medicines and so forth. She con-
tinues to meet with many people to find out where, when and
with whom a hospice ministry might be started. So far, no door
has opened, but the burden remains.
Luu is encouraged by the help Canadian friends have given to
her projects in Vietnam over
the past 14 years.
deBoraH MeroFF of Maine, USA, and based in London, UK,
has travelled to 110 countries during her 25 years as a
journalist for OM International. Earlier versions of this story
were published in Meroff’s book True Grit: Women Taking on
the World, for God’s Sake (Authentic, 2004) and by
Calgary’s City Light News (February 2012). Her most recent
book is Europe: Restoring Hope (VTR Publication, 2011).