Mai’s Testimony

My name is Mai Spencer. I was born in the town of Binh Chau, South Vietnam and raised as a Buddhist. I met and married my husband, Dennis, in Vietnam when he was stationed there in the Army. We left Vietnam in 1971 and came to this blessed land, the United States of America, to make our home and raise our family. We had 4 children, 3 of them died at the ages of 9 months, 16 years old, and 23 years old. The loss of our children brought us to Christ.

One of the children of Binh Chau

28 years ago I gave birth to twin girls. They were born 30 days premature and Brenda weighed less than 3 pounds while Michelle weighed less than 2 pounds. Michelle was very sick and died at the age of 9 months. We were very sad at the loss of our baby. A friend of ours came to witness to me about Jesus, but I told him no. I could not leave my Buddha to follow your Jesus. So he gave me a book of the New Testament in the Vietnamese language. He said if I have the time to please read it as it is a very interesting book.

Up to that time in my life I had absolutely no knowledge of Jesus or God, but I picked up the Bible and read it 2 times. I did not understand it much, but I did read that Jesus was the Son of god and the Savior of the world. A few months later, my friend came back to visit again. He asked me if I had read the book. I told him I had read it twice and it was interesting, but I really did not understand or believe it. My friend then told me that he really believed that before I die I will come to know Him. From that day on, the name of Jesus kept popping in and out of my head from time to time. When I had a problem I would pray to this Jesus. And even though I did not have a daily relationship with Him, He still answered most of my prayers. The one prayer that He did not answer was to have my family in Vietnam come here to live with me. For a long time I did not understand why He did not answer that prayer, but now I understand fully the reason why. I would like you to hold on to that thought and I will come back to it later.
Now I would like to share with you what happened to our other 2 children and how God used what happened to them to bring me and my whole family to the Christ. When we first came to the United States we lived in Mesa, Arizona. Dennis worked there for a grocery chain named A. J. Bayless for 16 years. He got promoted to Division Manager for southern Arizona and his office was located in Tucson, Arizona. Dennis moved to Tucson first, and then a few months later after the children’s school year was over, we joined him in Tucson. Then 6 months later the company filed Chapter 11 and began closing a lot of stores. A few months later, Dennis quit and began looking for another job. He got a job offer in San Diego, so we sold our house in Tucson and prepared to move to San Diego. However, Dennis had second thoughts about the job offer and he decided not to take it. We didn’t know what we were going to do or if we wanted to stay in Tucson, so we put our furniture in storage and rented an apartment for the time being.

Later that year in 1988 the Vietnamese government began letting tourists come into the country. I left in November of that year to visit my family in Vietnam who I had not seen for 17 years.

Dennis and Mai in Saigon, Vietnam.

When I left Vietnam in 1971, despite the war still going on, the people were hopeful and encouraged about the future. When I returned in 1988 I found that life for many people had become a struggle just to survive from one day to the next. As I looked at my family and the other people I met, I could see deep in their eyes that they longed to have a life like me. I felt so much sadness and heartache for them. For the first time in my life I felt deep down in my heart gratitude to God. I did not say it out loud, but in my heart I thanked God for the blessing in my life to live in the USA.

I discovered that most of the people lived a very hard life of poverty. In fact, I discovered one of my sisters, her handicapped husband, his mother, and their 6 children were homeless and traveling from one town to another begging for food. It took me 3 days to locate them and bring them to my mother’s house in Binh Chau. I ended up having a new house built for my mother so my mother gave her old house to them.

At that time there was no electricity in the town of Binh Chau, so I bought a generator for my mother’s house. It was close to Christmas and the local Catholic Church came to ask if they could borrow the generator to give them light at their Christmas worship service. When the church returned the generator the next day they shared with us a little bit about their worship service the night before. I could sense a joy on their faces and in their voices I had not noticed the day before. They seemed so peaceful compared to most of the people I had met. At that time the Lord put it in my heart that I had read in the New Testament given to me years earlier that Jesus was the Son of God and the Savior of the world. I prayed at that time, Jesus when you come, please come to this town. Also, when I leave here help me to remember these people, and if you bless me to do so, I will come back and build a place for them to come and celebrate you.

I had planned to stay in Binh Chau for 3 months, but even though I did not know Him yet, God knew that I needed to return home to Dennis and the kids. I missed them so much as this was the first time we had been separated since our marriage. I told my mom I needed to go home, but I would return in a month to make sure her new house was completed okay. Four days later I was home in Tucson. I was so happy to see Dennis and the kids. We really enjoyed our time together as a family the next 4 weeks. Then, as I had promised my mom, I made plans to return to Vietnam. My ticket was purchased and I was to leave Monday morning at 8 am.

Our only son, Tim, whose girlfriend had just broken up with him, came home late from work that Friday night after we had gone to sleep. He got hold of a gun and walked 2 miles over to his girlfriend’s house. There, in the middle of the night with her picture in his hand, he shot himself in the head, dying instantly. When notified, we were completely devastated. Over the next few months Dennis blamed himself; I blamed Dennis. I vented my anger towards Dennis and wanted to end our marriage, but I knew I still loved him so much.

I went into deep depression and started drinking and gambling heavily. I couldn’t leave Dennis so I would make him leave me. One day I came back from Las Vegas and told Dennis I needed to talk to him. We sat down at our bedside and I looked into his eyes. I could see he was so

Mai helping a family build a house.

sad and probably thinking I was going to leave him. I told him I had gambled all of our savings away in Las Vegas. I expected him to explode, but instead he asked me if that had eased the pain for awhile? He said it was only money and we could always make more, but what was important was that we stick together to overcome this feeling of despair.

I then realized that God had given me a gentle, kind, and good man for my husband. Even though he was dying inside too, he still reached out to comfort me.

I realized that Tim was his son too and he was going through the same pain that I felt. I needed to comfort him as much as he needed to comfort me. Together, we needed to learn to understand and comfort each other through the pain. As we look back on that time now, we both wish we had known how to call on Jesus for the strength and hope we needed so badly. Now I understand that God was with us even during our trials then.

We decided to stay in Tucson and purchased a new house to start fresh again. Dennis’ job was going well, our oldest daughter, Terie, gave birth to our first granddaughter, Cheree, and we felt we were making strides in recovering from the shock and devastation of Tim’s death.
Then in June of 1992, Terie, came home from a doctor’s appointment and stated that she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and given only 6 months to live. I was completely numb and didn’t know what to say. How could I take anymore pain? Later that day when I was alone I got down on my knees and cried out to Jesus. I told him I couldn’t bear anymore pain and please help me because I don’t know what to do or where to turn. I asked Him to come into my heart and my life as I realized I couldn’t do it alone. I met Jesus in my heart at that moment and was saved.

Elder Nhan with the children

Over the next few weeks God showered us with His love and mercy! He brought someone into Terie’s life who shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with her and she accepted Him as her Lord and Savior. A few days later Dennis also prayed to receive Christ. God is great! When God took Terie home to be with Him a few months later, I was sad because I would miss her, but God filled my heart with such a peace knowing Terie was free of all the pain and suffering, and she was at home with the Lord. And, I knew that I would see her again some day.

Shortly after Terie went to be with the Lord, God blessed me with a business of my dreams, my own company where I designed and manufactured women’s western apparel. It kept me busy working 14-16 hours a day at a time in my life I needed to be kept busy. Over the next 8 years God gave me the strength and desire to focus on Him. God started to really clean me up, change the parts of my life that needed changing, and my life began to produce fruit. Out of the 8 people who came to work for me (all Vietnamese), 7 of them accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. God then put it in my heart to quit my business so that I could focus more on Him so He could prepare my heart to serve Him.

Now remember the New Testament in Vietnamese that my friend gave to me in 1978. Well, in 1993 a friend of mine went to visit her family in Vietnam. The Lord put it in my heart to send that Bible home with her to give to my family. I went into my bedroom, knelt down on my knees, and prayed to God that He would put this Bible into the hands of one of my family members who would read it, understand it, believe in it, accept Christ, and witness to the rest of my family. God did answer my prayers.
What an AWESOME God we serve!! In less than 2 years, all my family in Vietnam, except for 2, came to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, a total of 35 people! Some years later, I gave this same Bible to one of my sisters as I shared Jesus with her. She also prayed to receive Christ and 6 months later God took her home with Him. Since then, the number of people who have accepted Christ has increased to over a 100. God used this Bible to save many people. I don’t know where this Bible is today, but I suspect God is still using it some

where to bring people to Christ.

After being born again, and even before that, I prayed to God about many different things. God has answered almost all of them, except for one. For all those years I have prayed that God would open the door for my family in Vietnam to join me here in the United States, but that prayer has gone unanswered. Finally, God spoke to my heart that the reason my family remained in Vietnam was to draw Dennis and I back to Vietnam.

Mai with her mother in Oct. 2009.

God began to put in my heart the need I saw years earlier for the people of Binh Chau to have a place to learn about God and to worship Him and to see the children grow up knowing Jesus. I began to pray to God, if this is your will, then bring my husband into agreement with me. I shared this with Dennis and God began to put the same vision for Binh Chau in his heart.

Since then God has opened many doors for us to serve Him in Binh Chau. Three years ago God moved us to Catalina Foothills Church here in Tucson where we have had the opportunity to mature in our walk with the Lord. He has equipped us to know how to share our faith through the Evangelism Explosion ministry at Catalina Foothills Church. God has blessed us with meeting many brothers and sisters in Christ at Catalina Foothills Church who have a passion and heart for missions who have encouraged us and prayerfully and/or financially supported us in our ministry for Binh Chau.

In June of 2004 Dennis and I returned to Vietnam and met with some pastors about planting a church in Binh Chau. One pastor agreed, with financial help from Catalina Foothills Church, to start a home church in Binh Chau. Sunday worship service started with only 2 or 3 people in January 2005. By March 2005 the number attending Worship service and weekly Bible studies were over 30 people, including children. God is good!

Mai with Hiep, one of her five sisters.

While we were in Vietnam in June 2004 we were able to purchase a piece of land a little bigger than a football field. It is Dennis and my vision to see a church and children’s ministry built on that land. We ask that you keep us in your prayers for God to continue to open doors for us to see this vision come true so that His name might receive the glory.

About This Site

Jesus in Vietnam Ministries, is a compassion ministry founded by Dennis and Mai Spencer. Vietnamese families suffer from deprivation, lacking sometimes even the necessities of life. In obedience to the many Scriptural commands to help the poor they are enabling families to survive in difficult circumstances. When shown mercy these families are very receptive to the Gospel. The Spencer’s also focus on children, who are the future church of Jesus Christ in Vietnam. Watch The Video About Jesus In Vietnam Ministries Here

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