Why I Do This - Hoang An's Story
Written by Hoang An, Homes of Love’s In-Country Coordinator in Vietnam. Hoang An is responsible for reviewing potential Homes of Love children, coordinating children entering our homes, and overseeing the homes. She also tracks expenses for all homes, plans training opportunities for parents, and walks with families during crises. She does all of this while also being a wife and mom to two biological children.
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
Yes, this is not what I can boast about, but what the Lord has done for me and through me –praise Him forever! I came to know that my value is not determined by what I do but simply by the fact that my Savior is also my Creator who created me in His image.
As I think through my past, present, and future journey with Homes of Love, my heart is always full of gratitude and contentment. I am thankful as He is willing to use me as His instrument. I am content as I am blessed; but not only me, a lot of different lives over years have been blessed in His loving care and presence. So many are blessed!
In 2006, two years after I returned to Vietnam from a short stay studying in Norway (serving the Lord in a Norwegian church and then with Christian Transworld Radio) a pastor mentioned the Homes of Love ministry and the need of a new coordinator. Through him, I first learned about this special ministry. This pastor asked if I wanted to serve with HOL. I remember the mixed feeling of both worries and excitement. After a few days, I said “yes” and have been part of Homes of Love ministry since then.
One of the things that drove me deep in my heart was my own life experiences of being in a very poor family. My father was a local pastor serving among lots of poor believers and helping them with their basic needs even though we were also in need. It was my memory of the old days, when my sisters and I had very little to eat, that was so strong in my mind that I had a heart for children who are parentless and hungry. It seemed so natural for me to feel the call from the Lord on my life and being part of the ministry reaching out to children, especially for the orphans. Besides that, my husband and I lived with my parents-in-law who were at that time parenting five children in their home and I witnessed these children’s daily lives in their loving care. All touched me deeply and assured me of His call over me to the ministry. It was really crystal clear that God chose me for His work, not me. I felt not just me being called, but my husband was also called as the companion and helper, which made me feel content and firm.
Being a part of the HOL ministry really affects my life. First of all, it gives me the chance of giving thanks to the Lord for everything and for every child God put in the Homes of Love. Secondly, it has perfected my faith and myself every day as I walk with the Lord. True love must be shown in deeds, not just in word or in tongue. Another thing is that I can learn from those who are also serving the Lord faithfully all over the world at the places He calls them. Last but not least, the feeling of belonging to the big family of HOL always encourages me through life. Just like me, if a child who came from a torn family surely knows he or she belongs to this family, it even changes their mindset, or at least their confidence that they are loved. God never stops seeking them and receiving them to His family too. It is love, gratitude, and commitment that truly keep me connected with HOL over the years. As I have been much forgiven, I love Him much. As I have been shown so much love, then I have to show His love to the children who need even a lot more than other children.
I am so thankful that the children who have come to HOL are the ones God put in our hearts. It is so true that they are parts of our lives – yes, my life. The way I have seen God’s using of my life and involvement in the lives of the HOL children is through His intention for me to be an encourager to the parents as well as the children. From the very early days of serving in the ministry, there hasn’t been a day God is not with us, both the parents and me as His servant. Homes of Love has become a vital part in the lives of the children and also in those who serve Him faithfully as parents. Through the ups and downs, it is love from the Lord that keeps and draws many young adults to be close to their Savior. They continue walking in faith and serving in the local churches as leaders, with music church band, or dancing and choir groups. They have confidence that God never abandons them and their benefactors do not either. Yes, God is at work through HOL and the children of HOL in many good ways. Many have godly examples to follow. Our children have been influenced by those who care about them, love and pray for them. They also learn about the life of prayer and love from those serving among them and also halfway around the world.
Just like the psalmist saying “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live,” I also make a commitment that as long as God continues to use me to reach out and influence at least a few of the HOL children, I am so delighted to serve Him. Over the years, He has taught me that “if you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” That is really true. I trust that God knows how far I can go on the journey with HOL. If He is pleased to let me serve with HOL, I never give up because I cannot resist responding to His calling just as 14 years ago. Many times on the journeys or trips to visit the HOL families, I would wonder how many lives God would continue to take to Homes of Love, how much the children would understand the love of God through the ones wholeheartedly serving them, and then grow in faith to love Him. I asked myself if I would be still faithful to serve those children who may not do everything right, even do not please God, and if I would be patient enough to pray for them. I trust that God has seen our heart and also our tears (Psalm 126:5-6).