Why I Do This - Samuel's Story
Samuel has been part of Homes of Love from the beginning. He has faithfully served on our HOL Vietnam leadership board and is a frequent visitor to our HOL homes. He is dearly loved by all the HOL children and parents and is a critical part of our HOL summer camps. His wisdom and heart have helped lead HOL for the past 20 years. He is known throughout his country for his faith, service to others, dedication, and heart of worship to the Lord. He shares a love of country music with many of us in Tennessee and would love to someday see the Grand Ole Opry!
Time has been travelling so fast. It has been over 20 years since I first met and made connection with a dentist couple in Saigon, Vietnam through the introduction of a mutual friend. They are Gary and Debbie Chesney, the founders of the compassion ministry to orphans around Vietnam, Homes of Love (HOL). This was the first time for me to be involved with HOL.
At first I did not understand how they had five biological children and an adopted daughter already, but chose to open their hearts to accept other children in need! My questions were answered when I visited their sweet home in Knoxville, Tennessee on July 4th, 2000. I witnessed their lives, which reflected the real love of God and others. Absolutely, only by the Love of Jesus from their hearts could do that. It was as in James 1:27 “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world”. Gary and Debbie not only “visit” orphans, but establish homes for children in need. The first Home of Love was in central Vietnam. Then year by year HOL expanded to several other cities. There have now been 21 of such homes established throughout Vietnam.
Their wise philosophy, of organizing each home with a maximum number of kids with parents and a tutor, is quite different from orphanages, which gather hundreds of orphans. This “family-hood” really persuaded and drew me to HOL’s ministry. It is so humane, and so sweet for any kids of HOL, having real love and care from parents living in the same home. This concept related to my own life, since I was a half-orphan when my dad had passed away when I was so young and living with my beloved widow mother was not easy in our society then.
I’m thankful to the Lord that I was volunteering for the humanitarian group among several Vietnam churches so that I could connect with HOL and help bring many children in need into HOL homes. This cooperation and fellowship has been running well for many years now.
Attending the training course of “Children in Crisis” in the States, and going on a mission trip to Cambodia with Gary and Debbie and the Drummonds (former missionaries in Cambodia), really confirmed to my heart to help the children in need. I learned more that the need is occurring everywhere, but who and which way of implementing it are actually more important and practical.
Through the eyes of the six children of the Chesney’s, as well as several volunteers from trips and prayer teams, I surveyed and understood that their hearts are so big for orphans in HOL homes and other street children as well. In my perspective, the growth of more and more people becoming involved in this ministry is proof of that care.
Time goes so fast. After 20 years, the initial generations of orphans in several HOLs now are grown up. Most of them are successful in life and living as Christians. Surely these children were leaving their HOL home full of warm memories. Among those memories, I trust the most impressive to them was watching the scripture Matthew 25:35 affect the course of their lives. It says, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stronger and you welcomed me.”
My friends and I have the same impression and thankfulness, similar to these little kids in several HOL homes in Vietnam, toward our Lord our Jehovah-Raah and Jehovah-Jireh, together with our precious Gary and Debbie Chesney and other sponsors. Isaiah 1:17 says “Learn to do good: seek justice, rescue the oppressed; Defend the Orphan, plead for the widow”. We learn to be good day by day, and wish to be the partners with Homes of Love forever.