We were some of the first Americans to go back to Vietnam. We took on some projects of renovating this orphanage that was run by a Vietnamese Catholic Nun. After the first project we finished, we met with the Social Services Director for the Saigon [Vietnam] area. At this time, Saigon was a city of nine million people. The Social Services Director was a retired North Vietnamese Army Colonel. Because we were veterans, the Director asked, “What year were you here? Who did you serve with, and what part of the country were you in?”
In 1966, on a search-and-destroy operation, my company walked into a regimental command post. We were surrounded by several thousand North Vietnamese Regulars. For three whole days we had human wave attacks. We would literally be in hand-to-hand combat, fighting each other with our hands, men stabbing each other with their bayonets, doing anything possible to kill the enemy. It was so intense. The dead just lay there decaying in the jungle. Their goal was to wipe out an entire company of US Marines.
We discovered that the colonel I was meeting with, who was the head of Social Services, was the Regimental Commander of that regiment. He realized that many of my friends were dead because of his actions during the war. An awkward silence fell in the room. After a few moments of silence, the Colonel looked at our interpreter and asked her, “Why do you come here to help my people? We’ve had many people and organization’s come to Vietnam and say they want to help. They leave, and we never see them again. This may seem like a small thing to you, but it’s not a small thing to us. Why do you do this?” I looked across a table at this Colonel and said, “Sir, because Jesus Christ has healed all the pain that was associated with my experience here in Vietnam. I can say to you, ‘I love you, and God loves you.’” When I said that, the interpreter began to bawl.
The Americans are on one side of the table. The Communists are on the other side of the table, and here’s interpreter at the other end the table, crying. Everybody on my side of the table, and everybody on the other side of the table were looking at the interpreter. The Communists are wondering what did he say to make this sweet young girl start crying. After several minutes she got her composure, and when she translated what I said to that Colonel, it almost looked as if he had been slapped across the face. His eyes got big. He put his hands on the table, and he stood up and came around the conference table. I stood up, and he came up to me, of course I’m much taller than he is, and this man looked up at me as tears started streaming down his eyes. He threw his arms around me and embraced me. He cried, and I cried. After several minutes, he said to the interpreter, “I have never had an enemy tell me that he loved me.”
That’s the kind of things only God can do through forgiveness and salvation in Jesus Christ.*a military unit, typically consisting of 80–250 soldiers