Ministry launches project for veterans to help build churches in Vietnam


HAMPTON, Va. — International Cooperating Ministries has launched a yearlong initiative inviting veterans to partner in the construction of 100 church projects in Vietnam in 2011.

The initiative is being undertaken in honor of the 100th anniversary of the introduction of evangelical Christianity in the Asian country. The project complements more than 220 church-related projects built or under construction in Vietnam. The program will provide direct material and spiritual assistance, and will honor the men and women who served and help facilitate their healing process.

Janice Allen, ICM's executive chairwoman, said some veterans who are supporting the initiative see it as a healing experience.

"In coming to grips with the horrors of war, these Vietnam veterans acknowledge the fact that innocent lives were lost during the conflict," Allen said. "They also understand that some Vietnamese churches were destroyed. But what they have come to discover as they learn about ICM's work in Vietnam is that by helping to financially support church projects they often can begin to make peace with the past," Allen said.

One Vietnam veteran said the ability to help "... really hit a chord with me. ... It was a way to help give back. ... You know, (I) took away lives ... and it was my job ... but now I have a chance to give back," he said.

The cooperating ministry has been partnering with ministry leaders in Vietnam since 1994. The initiative involves the construction of large and small churches, chapels and Love Homes.

The large churches are built in and around larger urban centers and support congregations of 300 people or more, while small churches, spread across specific regions, providing a church home for 100 to 300 worshippers. Chapels are designed to support 50 to 150 people, in areas not served by larger churches.; Love Homes are established in rural settings, providing the seeds for future churches. Love Homes provide a residence for the church-planter and minister to up to 50 people, serving hundreds of congregations along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, in the Central Highlands and in the tribal areas of North Vietnam.

The ministry works with indigenous partners to build "mother" churches approximately 25 miles from one another. Each of these "mother" churches commits to planting at least five "daughter" congregations nearby. Using this strategy, ICM and its partners have seen more than 20,000 congregations established to date worldwide. The churches are catalysts that facilitate the ministry's primary purpose: nurturing believers.

The cooperating ministry uses the teachings of the Mini Bible College, a clear, systematic Bible curriculum developed by Pastor Dick Woodward that consists of more than 400 individual lessons in audio, print and other formats. The teachings include an entire survey of the Old and New Testaments; the Sermon on the Mount; the Gospel of John; studies covering First Corinthians, Romans and the values of Christ, family and marriage; and more than 20 teachings on various aspects of godly living.

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