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Serve Wherever God Calls You

Updated: May 11

Match Mission with Joy on a Trip.



Welcome Friends to Holy Hills, my name is April Cranford. Mission can take us next door to our neighbor’s backyard or to a backyard miles away. When serving in mission the emphasis is not on the miles but the message.

Let us travel a few miles today and meet a Vietnamese Refugee. Earlier this year, I read Minh Phune Towner’s story in the book, Straining Forward written by my friend Michelle Layer Rahal.

Minh’s story and Michelle’s writing will captivate your heart and soul in discovering one woman’s journey from oppression to redemption in the wake of the Vietnam War.

I am an avid reader, however this is the first time in meeting the main character from a book in which I have read. I am so excited. Let's go!


I have traveled from Fishersville to Fairfax Virginia to meet the Rev. Minh Towner and for Minh to share her story of God‘s transformation in her life as she faithfully serves through her work as a chaplain locally and globally wherever God calls her. Journey with Minh as she tells you her story of finding joy in mission.

"I am a refugee from Vietnam. I escaped from Vietnam in 1975 at the end of the War when the city of Saigon collapsed. I was captured several times and be placed in the prison but

successfully escaped on the third attempt.


My journey as a refugee began in the South China sea on a little fishing boat. At the end I was rescued and brought back to shore by the Taiwanese fishermen. After several months in a Taiwnese refugee camp, I traveled to France, then Australia and now in Northern Virginian, USA.



My faith journey began with many questions to God and no answers because nothing made sense to me as I witnessed what was happening around me. I witnessed my dad and my younger siblings killed at gun point. I watched my parent’s home engulfed by the fire and I grew up where the gun fire was the only sound, I could recall as part of my childhood. There was abuse and torture and cruelty.

Where was God?


My worldly success started in Australia when I anchored a successful nursing career, married and I was blessed with two beautiful children. During this time, I was diagnosed with PTSD and depression, which took a toll on my marriage and it ended.

I left Australia heading to the US with a hope of finding myself again. The opportunity for me to remain in nursing profession closed instead because my nursing license was not recognized in America. However, the door of study at theological seminary opened to me. Little did I realized it was the beginning of my journey of becoming a missionary, a Christ’s follower (Matthew 28:16-20). The journey from Australia to the US in fact is a journey I was running towards to God after all.

Today, I continue serving faithfully the Lord through my work as a chaplain locally and globally wherever God calls me (Matthew 25:31-40). I continue sharing the Good News and be witness for God through my words and deeds (James 2:18).



I know God owns everything and I own nothing. (Romans 14:8) I belong to God in life, life and death.


Not only do I work as a chaplain serving the sick and dying in local hospitals, but I have also had the opportunity to serve as a missionary in my native country Vietnam and work with Syrian refugees in the country of Bulgaria. Refugees and orphans are near to my heart.

Jesus and his parents were refugees. They fled from Bethlehem to Egypt while King Herod ordered to slaughter all the male children under two years old at the time. (Mat. 2:12-15)


So, you might want to ask, “Why mission is important to Christians?” My answer is “Mission is part of our Christian’s life because our God is a mission God."


In the book of Matthew, (Mat.28:19-20) Jesus instruct the apostles to make disciples of all nations. “To make disciples of all nations” wherever you are, from your home, backyard, your church, your work, anywhere near and far.


So I encourage you, challenge you, and I hope to inspire you to take on the challenge of becoming God’s missionary from wherever you are. Are you ready to accept Jesus’s invitation “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mt.4:19)"

I hope you will read Minh’s story in Straining Forward, or download the audiobook which was just released. Take a simple step in mission by taking a trip to serve God locally or globally this weekend.


Take care and blessings to you this day,

April


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Additional Resources


April 30th is a significant day in history.

- In 1789, George Washington was inaugurated.

- In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase Treaty was signed.

- In 1945, Adolph Hitler committed suicide.

- In 1975, the Vietnam War ended.

- In 2018, Straining Forward was published.

- In 2021, the audiobook of Straining Forward was launched.

  • The audiobook version of Straining Forward is now available on Audible, Google Play, Nook, Scribd, and Kobo/Walmart.

  • The audiobook is half-price on Apple, Chirp, and Authors Direct through May 15.

  • Signed paperback copies of Straining Forward are half-price through May 15 when ordered on Michelle's website; www.keepstrainingforward.com

  • As always, 50% of the proceeds from sales of this book will be donated to groups that work with orphans and refugees around the world.



Many thanks to McHale & Justina for the opening song, "Church in the Wildwood" in the video. Listen to music by McHale & Justina on Spotify and YouTube. Follow them on socials, Instagram and Facebook. Click on their picture to visit their website.


Rev. Minh Towner's favorite song is “My hope is built on nothing less.”


Seems appropriate to follow a Presbyterian Pastor's words with the closing song, Presbyterian Hymn Melody: My Hope is Built on Nothing, Less He Leadeth Me, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing played by Tim Stafford.




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