On the evening of November 6, 2015, the Government Rehabilitation Centre at Xuan Khanh Town, Ba Vi District, Hanoi held an evangelistic program called “Path of Light”, put on by ex-addicts. While all eyes and cameras were focused on the stage, my eyes were fixed on a middle-aged man in the audience – a father whose son, up until a few months earlier, was a drug addict. For many years he had neither a smile nor a song on his lips, but now his face was radiant with joy as he lifted up his hands to sing praises to the Lord with all his heart.
I had previously visited him at his house and had dinner with his family. Every member of the family took turn telling the stories of Hoang’s 19 years of drug addiction. They showed me the room where Hoang had lived and used drugs. I listened to their stories and saw the steel door that they had used to confine Tien Hoang. How painful it must be to have a drug-addicted son!
In less than a year since they met Jesus, the atmosphere in this family changed completely. Thuy-Linh, Hoang’s younger sister, shared with me: “Truly, even in my dreams I could never have imagined such a wonder! I’ve gotten my dear brother back after 19 years of captivity to drugs, and he is even more lovable now than the brother I had before.”
My eldest and only son has been delivered from drug addiction.
It is an undeniable miracle that God has performed in our family. How wonderful!
My name is Binh Tien Nguyen. I was born in 1954 in Thanh Hoa City. I was raised in a disciplined, highly educated, ancestor worshipping family. In 1987, with a university degree, I took my wife and our two little children to Hanoi in order to build a new and better life for my family. My first-born son, Hoang Tien Nguyen, was only seven years old and his little sister, Thuy-Linh, had just turned 4. My wife and I cherished and pampered both our children, especially Hoang. He was an adorable, handsome boy. He was our pride and joy. We gave him whatever he wanted. His sister would often complain: “Why do you love him more than you love me?”
ENTANGLED IN DRUGS
In 1995, heroin entered Hanoi. Hoang was sixteen years old and gave into peer pressure from his friends. He started using drugs. At that time, none of us knew anything about heroin and its dangers. We gave him an allowance but didn’t pay any attention to how he spent it. A year had passed before we discovered our son’s drug addiction. We brought him back to our hometown hoping to keep him away from the bad influences of his friends. We thought he would stop using drugs and finish the tenth grade, but it didn’t work.
RELYING ON MYSTICAL POWERS
I desperately sought treatment for my son through mystical powers. I took him back to my hometown and invited highly-regarded sorcerers to our home. They summoned the spirit of my father back in order to save my son. Whenever I heard of any Buddhist temple that was known to have supernatural power, whether in North or South Vietnam, I would take Hoang there. We visited Bach Ma Zen Monastery, Thien Mu Pagoda and the Royal Tombs of the Nguyen Kings in Hue, to make ceremonial offerings. Then we went to Sung Phuc Monastery in Gia Lam, Hanoi, to take a vow to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, so that every member in my family would become Buddhists. We did all these things in the hope that mystical powers would deliver our son from drugs. Instead, hopelessness prevailed.
DRUG REHABILITATION AT HOME
We tried to treat his addiction at home by hiring people to build a thick steel door with a strong lock for his room. We bought a chain to tie his feet together and administered tranquilizers to put him to sleep. We hoped that through a long, deep sleep our son would stop injecting heroin into his body, but this was to no avail. On the third day, unable to tolerate the drug withdrawal, he became violent and screamed loudly. We finally gave up, unchained him, unlocked the door, and in agony watched him rush out to get his fix.
SIN PILING ON SIN
Hoang’s need for drugs kept increasing, but his money was running out. With no funds, he went down the road of drug dealing, robbing, and stealing. During one robbery attempt, his friend drove a motorcycle while Tien Hoang was on the back seat. At the right moment, Hoang snatched a handbag from a woman riding on another motorcycle, but the handbag was wrapped tightly around her rearview mirror. When he pulled it, she lost control of the motorcycle, fell down, and was dragged on the street for two or three meters. When Hoang got home, he reflected upon what had happened and worried whether the lady was seriously injured. However, his concern quickly faded as the craving for drugs returned. Hoang plunged right back into stealing, robbing, and swindling. Sin was piling upon sin.
In 2004, Hoang was arrested while buying drugs. He was sentenced to 15 months at the Hoa Lo prison, but even in prison he was still able to obtain drugs. After his release, he resumed his drug use. His second arrest was in 2010, also for buying drugs. This time he was sent to the government’s rehabilitation centers. His sentence was 4 years: 2 years at Center #4 and then 2 more years at Center #2. We thought that the strict rules and disciplines at these centers would help Hoang let go of the drugs, but only a month after returning home, he relapsed. The drug this time around was even more dangerous. It’s called ice.
By thirty-five, Hoang was using ice like a mad man. He moved out and rented a room in a motel so he could use drugs freely. My wife and I were both tired and frustrated, so we let him go wherever he wished. Even his sister, who loved him dearly and gave him money regularly, was losing her patience. Seeing how worn out her parents were, she even wished for Hoang’s death. After bearing the burden of Hoang’s addiction for nineteen years, my whole family was exhausted.
Later, Hoang told us that during that time he went to a resting home and used ice for 29 days straight. He didn’t eat or sleep, and only drank water. The only time he slept was when he was knocked out by ice. Methamphetamine had disturbed his nervous system and caused constant paranoia. He cut off all the buttons on his clothes, thinking they were micro-chips implanted by the police. Whenever he came home, he smashed all the phones and computers and used a blanket to cover the air conditioning unit for fear the police were spying on him. What frightened us most was that he would always carry a knife with him. One time, he chased after his friend, trying to stab him because of a hallucination. My wife hid from her own son because she was afraid of him.
Looking back, we were at our lowest point at that time. Previously I thought Hoang was bad, but not a total failure, so it would be possible to save him. But after I had tried every way I knew, I recognized the reality: I was completely helpless against the evil power drugs held over our dear son.
COMING TO JESUS
Then Jesus came to seek and save our son, for which we are eternally grateful. During the first few days of the Vietnamese New Year in 2015, Hoang ran into Hung Quang Pham, while wandering around the Nhan Chinh marketplace. Hung was an exdrug addict who was saved by God. Recognizing that Hoang was under the influence of ice, Hung followed Hoang to our house. Hung met Linh, Hoang’s sister, and told her about the Christian Drug Rehabilitation Center at the Hanoi Born Again Church.
For the Son of Man
came to seek and save those who are lost.
On the fourth day of the Tet holiday, I noticed the devastating effect of ice on Hoang. He was constantly hallucinating and threatening people with a knife. I decided to go to the police and request that they force Hoang to be admitted to one of the government’s rehabilitation centers. On my way there, I ran into a friend who was working as a security guard at Phan Dinh Giot school. He asked where I was going. I told him about my drug-addicted son. He then mentioned the name Hung Quang Pham, the same man Hoang and Linh had met. He said Hung used to be a drug addict, but he is free now and helps other addicts.
My wife and I met Hung and listened to his testimony about Jesus Christ. Hung also asked Hong Van, Nam Quoc Trung’s wife, to share more about Jesus. Then Hung showed us video clips of people whom God delivered from drug addiction. A spark of hope began to grow in our hearts. We agreed to accept Jesus as our Savior and asked Him to deliver our son from drugs.
CHRISTIAN REHABILITATION CENTER
The following day, Hung came to our home to encourage Hoang to go to Christian Rehabilitation Center. Then for three days straight, Hung came to visit and pray with us for several hours. On the fourth day, Hoang told Hung: “I agree to come with you, but before I go, let me use ice for one last time.” That day Hung came to our house to pray and to wait for Hoang to get his fix. After that Hung and I took Hoang to Christian Rehabilitation Center at Xuan Mai.
Hoang later shared in a group meeting, “Given my state of hallucination from ice, if Hung had not been there at that time I would have either ended my life or killed someone else within a matter of days.”
THE BEGINNING AT THE CENTER
On February 26, 2015, the eighth day of the Tet holiday, Hoang came to Xuan Mai at around 3 am. On his first visit, he stayed at the center for only nine days due to his inability to cope with his withdrawal symptoms. Hung came to visit Hoang to encourage him to return to the center. On his second visit, Hoang stayed at the center for almost a month before he again returned to ice. However, Hung never gave up. He kept visiting Hoang. This time he came not only to encourage, but also to challenge Hoang. The third time Hoang went to the center by himself.
Hoang decided to go back to the center because he realized that it was the only place that could save him from his addiction. Our family had tried everything to help him quit, but with no success. Hoang thought death was the only way to escape. At this center, Hoang met many other addicts. Some were addicted for ten years and some for twenty years, yet all were delivered through the power of Jesus Christ. The brothers who cared for Hoang, and the mentors who taught him the Word of God, had been drug users. Hoang had never met so many people who were delivered from drugs.
One day, as Hoang was approaching the center, he prayed: “Dear God, if the door at the center is open, I will enter. If not, I will go back home.” The door at the center was rarely open, but on that day it was.
BATTLE AND DELIVERANCE
The next stage was nothing short of a battle between darkness and light. Deep down in Hoang’s heart was the longing to be changed by God. But, within him there was a power that would not let him go. There were numerous times when Hoang would howl and swing his arms and legs as if he was practicing martial arts.
On his third visit to the center, Hoang felt something strange inside his body. He ran to the yard screaming and making martial art movements. The brothers laid hands on him and prayed. For the first time, Hoang experienced the touch of the Holy Spirit and received an amazing deliverance from God.
From that day on, Hoang had a passionate desire to read God’s word. He spent all his time reading the Bible. Within three months, Hoang finished reading the entire Bible. Hoang recounted: “God gave me an amazing experience. Each day, as the Word of God entered my heart, all the bad thoughts were chased away.” The old Hoang used foul language or curse words. They riddled his everyday speech. He also used cigarettes, pipe tobacco, beer, and liquor. He did not think or care for anyone except himself. The new Hoang does not use foul language, curse words, cigarettes, pipe tobacco, beer or liquor. Now, he makes sacrifices and cares for the people around him.
When speaking of the experience of giving up pipe tobacco, Hoang recounted: “One time after reading the Bible, I prayed: ‘Dear Lord, please change me and help me give up pipe tobacco in thirteen days.’ But after only twelve days God enabled me to completely give up pipe tobacco. Thanks be to the Lord.”
Today, Thuy-Linh joyfully says: “My brother is now more lovable than the brother I had before.”
While Hoang was at the Christian Rehabilitation Center in Xuan Mai, my wife and I joined the worship and fellowship at a church in Thanh Xuan, Hanoi. We felt comfortable as many people there had also been through tough times. The young people were ex-drug addicts, whose parents encouraged and shared with us how their addicted children had been saved by God.
When we first attended this church, my wife was deeply touched by the messages she heard about the love of Jesus. She said: “If there is anyone willing to die for an addicted child, it should be his parents. But Jesus, who had never done anything wrong, died for my son’s sins. How could I not love Him? I don’t know whether Hoang will be delivered from drugs, but I will be committed to loving Jesus and follow Him the rest of my life.”
Though I loved singing so much, how could I find the joy to sing as I went through nineteen years of suffering with an addicted son? But when I came to this church, many of the hymns touched my heart. Like a river that was dammed up for too long, I burst forth singing, harmonizing my heart with the entire congregation, lifting up my voice to praise God.
GRATITUDE AND SERVICE
With a thankful heart for God’s deliverance, I took part in serving God with other parents in the church. For a period of time, I assisted in the construction of the Christian Rehabilitation Center in Phu Man. We also participated in the visitation and caring ministry of the church. Whenever there were training or Bible study classes, we always planned our schedule in order to attend. Recently, we participated in the “Reading Through the Bible in 100 Weeks Journey” with the church. Every week we read 10 Bible passages, answered questions, and memorized one key Bible verse.
In April 2016, with the support of the Church Executive Board, I was nominated to be the Parents Group Leader. Every Friday morning, I meet at the church with other parents of drug addicts to fast and pray for our children. We noticed that our faith grew as we abided in God, studied His Word, and served Him.
HEART TO HEART WITH FAMILIES OF DRUG-ADDICTED CHILDREN
Having experienced 19 years with a drug-addicted son, I have sympathy for families in similar situations. Perhaps, like me, you have tried many different ways to help your children escape drugs but nothing has worked. Speaking from my own experience, I would like to share with you the inexpensive, effortless method that finally delivered my son from drugs. We put our trust in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. My son lived many years in sin: he stole, robbed, stabbed people, dealt drugs, and served several jail terms. However, with God’s love, his sins have been forgiven and he has a new life in Christ.
Psalm 34:8 says:
Taste and see that the LORD is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him!
“Taste and see that the LORD is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him!”
I hope you will soon taste the goodness of God upon your family and enjoy to the fullest the blessings of those who trust in Him.