The Viet Nam War, like other wars in human history, entered the American consciousness and remains a bewilderment for our generation. The war divided America, Viet Nam, the public, and many families. It brought tears, bloodshed, suffering, hatred, anger, chaos, and destruction. Many books have been written and movies have been made to reflect various viewpoints and opinions. But, few books have been written from an eye-witness, survivor perspective. Viet—the central character of this memoir—witnessed the end of the war and lived many years under the Communist regime.
During this war, people have lined up on both sides of it to support it and protest against it. After the war ended, no one seemed to care about its victims or wanted to speak up for them and come to their aid. Viet wants the world to know what happened to its victims and what was left behind after everyone has left the party. He was able to survive the aftermath and escape by boat to search for freedom and a new life beyond his broken homeland. He had to spend about a week at sea fighting for his life against hunger, thirst, heat, seasickness, waves, violent storm, sharks, Communists and their allies, pirates, the idea of cannibalism, and death. Thankfully, by God’s grace and the help of some good people from a South Korean ship, he was rescued along with his boat mates and dropped off at a refugee camp in Singapore. After several months at this camp, his father sponsored him to come to America.
He struggled to learn English and adapt to the new culture in America. He had to battle with loneliness, hopelessness, discrimination, lack of resources, and other issues that a refugee goes through in a new land. He also tried to discern the priesthood vocation and decided to follow his Lord’s footsteps and serve His Church. Now, he had to leave behind all the great opportunities of the Promised Land and enter the seminary. He conquered many challenges of the seminary life and acquire new skills and disciplines to help him become an effective priest for God’s people. After ten years of seminary training, he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has been a faithful and loving priest for twenty years and is looking forward to serve Christ’s Church for many more years.
Viet has shared a little bit of his life story in his Sunday homilies and other workshops in the last twenty years. His friends and parishioners have urged him to write this book so that they can have a full picture of his amazing life. This book is partly a history book and also a personal diary. As these two parts weave together, one will see the divine presence and the secrets of life that have helped Viet survive throughout his life. He had to rely on the protection of his ancestors and the help of the Guardian Angels – the kind and generous people – that God would send him along the way. Most importantly, he has had to look up to his loving God and a higher purpose to stay alive and move forward each day. Hence, his Memoir has taken the title “Living for a Higher Purpose.” The book will guide its readers through many stories of Viet’s life and eventually help them figure out what that higher purpose is. It also discusses many popular, current issues such as war and its victims, refugees and their life challenges, life under a Communist regime, core curriculum, how the world views America, the relationship between Catholicism (Christianity) and Buddhism, and much more.
After reflecting on various issues and discerning life from different viewpoints, Viet will help his readers come to the same conclusion with him about the following secret of a fulfilling and joyful life. That is, a person should use his or her life to serve Jesus and other people. By sticking to that way of living, a person will find meaning and unending joy even in the dark night of his or her soul. This person will always trust in God’s love on the Cross of Jesus to guide, protect, strengthen, and encourage him or her throughout his or her life. Hopefully, you will find comfort, joy, hope, and answers for your life issues by journeying through this Memoir with Viet. May God’s love always be before you, beside you, and behind you all the days of your life.
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