30 Orange Grove Road, down Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore 258352
Mailing Address: 1 Goldhill Plaza, #03-35, Singapore 308899
Email: email@example.com; Website: http://www.truelifebpc.org.sg
(Ring Pastor Jeffrey Khoo 62561189 Anytime)
|“The LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep SILENCE before him.”|
An Interview with the Rev Nguyen Gia Hien by FEBC Students
Q1: How long have you been in Brisbane?
I have been in Brisbane for nearly 14 years since I graduated from the Far Eastern Bible College (FEBC) in Singapore in 2004.
Q2: What group of people do you approach, and how do you manage to teach them?
At first I thought that I would minister to Vietnamese people, but later I understand that God loves all mankind without racial discrimination, so I have approached various groups of peoples. I thank God for opening a door for me to minister first to Singaporean migrants and students. By God’s grace, I started with a Bible Study group once a week at the City Library, and then Sunday worship services were conducted at our rented apartment. Thank God that when one family from New Zealand came to Brisbane and joined us in 2005, we registered our church as Brisbane Bible-Presbyterian Church, and we rented a Community Hall for our worship service, and after that by God’s providence we have worshipped at a Presbyterian Church Hall until now. Thank God that our church is like an international church, a mixture of Asian and Australian brethren.
I really thank God that after 7 years God answered my prayer for an open door to minister to my Vietnamese people. How happy I was when the Bible Study was organised at Vietnamese brethren’s houses! After a few months, God moved their hearts to desire a worship service, so we registered the church as Vietnamese Bible-Presbyterian Church - Brisbane. It is God who has graciously opened a door for me and used me to minister His Word to the people in Brisbane (Rev 3:8).
Q3: What do you teach for worship service and other meetings?
As a servant of the Lord, I must preach the Lord Jesus Christ my Lord and not myself or any others (2 Cor 4:5). I must preach and teach God’s Word (2 Tim 4:2), using the most faithful and accurate English Bible, even the King James Bible. I cannot give others what I do not have (Acts 3:6). I must be fed with God’s Word first then I may be able to feed others.
I do thank God for the sound training at FEBC, equipping me with His Truth to minister His Word to the brethren in Brisbane. By God’s grace I have studied, preached, taught or written about God and His Attributes and Names, about the Lord Jesus Christ and His teachings and His second Coming, about the Holy Spirit and His Work, about the Bible characters and stories, about the prophets and their books, about the apostles and their epistles, about God’s creation and His salvation and sanctification, about Christian life, church life, family life, evangelism, and so forth. God is so great and infinite and His Truth is infinite and unsearchable (Pss 145:3; 147:5; Rom 11:33; Eph 3:8).
Q4: How were you called to the work of missions in Brisbane?
That is God’s providence. My heart’s desire was to minister to my people in Vietnam. So when my brother sponsored my family to Canada in 1985, I cancelled the immigration documents to stay back in Vietnam. When God opened a door for me to study His Word at FEBC in 2000, one of my uncles in the United States invited me to pastor his church after my theological training. I asked my uncle to give me one year to pray for God’s will. After one year of prayer, I told my uncle that my heart was still for my people in Vietnam, so I could not go to America.
By God’s providence, my wife got a scholarship for her further studies at the University of Queensland. So my wife and our daughter went to Brisbane when I was in Singapore. We planned to go back to Vietnam, but later my wife changed her mind and applied for her permanent residency in Australia. I was shocked and shared this with my Principal, the Rev Dr Timothy Tow, and he encouraged me to trust in the Lord, saying, “My brother Dr Tow Siang Hwa supervises some churches in Australia, so if God be willing and your wife can get her permanent residency in Australia, you can start a church in Brisbane.” Thus, I prayed and committed everything to the Lord.
Q5: Did any pastor recommend you? Were you invited? Or…
At first Dr Tow Siang Hwa recommended me to Ebenezer BP Church in Melbourne. This church at that time did not have a pastor; so they invited me to minister to them.
I really thank God I witnessed the split of Life BP Church in Singapore when I was at FEBC. It was because of FEBC’s belief in God’s perfect preservation of the Holy Scriptures in the Traditional Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek Texts underlying the KJB. I realised that Rev Dr Timothy Tow was the Founding Pastor of Life BP Church for over 50 years and the Founding Principal of the FEBC since 1962, but his assistant pastors, even his students, kicked him out because of his faith in the perfect Bible. Then how could I, a young graduate without any pastoral experience, minister to a church if her Session did not believe nor submit to the perfect Bible that I would preach? They would surely kick me out right away if they did not have the same conviction and the same view on the Holy Scriptures that I have. Therefore, I asked the Session of Ebenezer BP Church about their stand and view on the Bible. But their view was not clear. So I decided to continue in the ministry in Brisbane without contacting any churches for financial support. If I have not personally trusted and experienced the loving care of my heavenly Father, the Creator, as the Lord Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:25–34, how can I preach the Bible to others with full conviction?
Q6: What confirmed God’s calling for you to go to Brisbane?
I received an email from Dr Jeffrey Khoo, then the Academic Dean of FEBC, writing, “Dear Hien, True Life BPC would like to adopt you as our missionary preacher. Would you be willing? May the Lord guide you step by step as you serve Him. As our principal has said, ‘Self help with God’s help is the best help.’ In Christ, Jeffrey Khoo.” I gladly accepted the invitation from True Life BP Church right away and counted Dr Khoo’s email as God’s will for me to be His witness in Brisbane.
Q7: Which church sent you or supported you while you did your mission work in Brisbane?
I do thank God for the kind prayers and financial support of True Life BP Church in Singapore when I did my mission work in Brisbane. I have determined to be God’s servant to serve Him unconditionally and not an hireling. So I am always thankful for what God has provided. I thank God for His grace and providence that after 11 years my two churches are able to practise the teaching of the late Rev Dr Timothy Tow, “Self help with God’s help is the best help.” Although we are now financially self-supporting, I am still a missionary preacher of True Life BP Church as before. It is a special privilege and blessing to enjoy the prayer support from and blessed fellowship with Pastor Jeffrey Khoo and True Lifers which I always greatly appreciate with much gratitude to the Lord.
Q8: What struggles did you face while abroad in a foreign land, with different cultures and languages?
I do thank God for training me to serve him unconditionally, willing to spend and be spent (2 Cor 12:15), not for money as an hireling. When I was in Vietnam, I lived in the south, but God gave me opportunities to travel with a brother to rural areas in the northern and central provinces to visit and share God’s Word with my people. The Lord filled my heart with joy in serving Him despite tiring travel by bus, by train or on foot, with much labour and discomfort! I also thank God for the good training at FEBC, not only for my theological knowledge but also for my character and practical service. The Lord Jesus’ humble ministry as a servant always reminds me to serve and not to be served (Matt 20:28). Thank God for His sufficient grace that I am able to endure different cultures and all living conditions without complaints. God’s grace is amazing!
Q9: What struggles did you face being separated from family? Give examples.
When I studied at FEBC for four years, I saw my wife and daughter only three times, each time was a short time. But the Lord helped me to focus on my study, assignments and theses. That is God’s grace and strength alone. When I started serving the Lord in Brisbane in early years, Satan sometimes made use of my wife to discourage me from doing the ministry, to return to secular work, exactly as he made use of Peter to discourage the Lord Jesus (Matt 16:22–23). But by God’s grace, I have kept praying and pressing on with the ministry. I really thank God when I see my wife and children growing spiritually. My wife never tells me to give up my ministry anymore, but helps me to serve the Lord as a musician, an interpreter, and a caterer despite holding a full-time job.
Q10: What general concerns or prayer items do you have?
My general concerns or prayer items are the salvation of loved ones and the local people, especially the Vietnamese community in Brisbane as well as the sanctification and spiritual growth of the brethren of the two churches. I still pray that God will call some brethren including my son to serve Him and to join FEBC for the sound theological training. I also pray for the revival work of the Holy Spirit so that my family, the brethren and I myself might be full of godly zeal to love God, to serve Him, and to share His salvation to the people around us.
I also thank God for giving me the privilege to revise the Vietnamese Bible. I am always thankful to God for the teaching at FEBC, especially in the Biblical languages, without which I can never be qualified to do this great revision work. I pray that God will help me with some Vietnamese brethren to complete this work early so that my Vietnamese people may have a faithful and accurate Vietnamese Bible in their hands.
[The interview is an assignment in the Biblical Missions course this semester under Dr Jose Lagapa.]
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