From 2017-09-06 to 2017-09-30

You Are My Witnesses

Having worked in Lima, Peru, I often came across sick and elderly people who

lived in extreme poverty, and inhumane conditions. Courageously, they struggled for survival while reaching out to others. Here, I think of Isabel, a young woman of 40 who, at the age of 18, suffered an accident. Her legs amputated, she managed to go around within her vicinity thanks to a wheel chair, bringing a helping hand wherever needed. Full of life, Isabel never gave up in the face of suffering. She was a witness to hope, that virtue dwelling within her. Her courage revitalized my own faith and my missionary commitment. But how can someone witness to God’s love when physical illness or age has taken over?

Suffering—in union with the suffering Christ

Trials and hardships are unique experiences that can lead us to a deep communion with Jesus. It was He who said: Father, if you will, take this cup of suffering away from me.

However, not my will but your will be done. Lk 22:42 This ‘letting-go’ brings about peace in one’s heart; self-pity is transformed into a Source of Love. Faith does not eliminate pain, but it links us to Christ’s redeeming sufferings.

Faith assures us that it is in God’s power to draw good out of evil; to trust gives meaning to life. Among those who have suffered great hardships, many can say that their faith has brought them hope and serenity in times of trial. Notwithstanding our physical limitations, the Lord calls each one of us to be active, to reach-out with whatever strength and talents we still possess. Each individual is a precious collaborator in Christ’s redeeming work.

Is this not your mission to become a witness to God’s Presence and Love in your life; a Presence that has penetrated all the fibres of your being. Through prayer you can enter into dialogue with God. Speak to the Lord of your sorrows, your hopes, your concerns for your loved ones; thank the Divine Physician and offer Him all your being—this is prayer and it is a way of witnessing to your faith, since it reveals your secret relationship with the God of Love.

Without fear, tell your story. Yes, your faith-filled history might awaken the source of faith in others. Someone might be waiting for your message.

By Michelle Payette, m.i.c.

From 2017-09-06 to 2017-09-30

A Second Chance

The trip from Saigon to Malaysia took four days. We were placed in Pulau Bidong refugee camp; we were very thankful because we knew that God had spared our lives and gave us a second chance to live freedom again. This camp received one or two boat loads of refugees every day from South Vietnam. The Island was filled with thousands of boat people crammed into temporary houses that were built by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); some stayed in shacks built by the refugees themselves. Wanting to help others, I volunteered to teach English to other refugees and my sister worked with the children in the camp.

Life was simple and our basic needs were met. The refugees were united and helped each other in many different ways. My sister and I stayed at the camp for two months. It was a time of anxiety and uncertainty concerning our future, but I was anxiously anticipating a new life. It was a relief when our names were published on the list to leave for Canada and to be reunited with our brother who had been living in little possessions but with plenty of optimism. We were warmly received in Canada.

Since then, I have been living in this country and have adapted to the Canadian culture and climate. I now consider Canada as my second homeland; it has welcomed me, has given me the opportunity to rebuild my life and to receive all the benefits of a Canadian citizen, for which I am deeply grateful. After 13 years in Vietnam’s concentration camp my father was released; in 1990, he was reunited with the rest of us here in Canada.

Looking back at all the events, I see that my family and I have been under God’s protection at all times. My journey in search of freedom ended here in Canada, but I have embarked on a new journey which is to serve others. Through volunteer work, I have found a meaningful way of growing closer to God and of witnessing His Love as I walk with others on the path of life.

By Nguyen Thi Minh Tam