November 2006 – the start of a new chapter for my family. Because my husband was a drug addict for years, I witnessed the tremendous change that impacted my family. Overwhelmed with gratitude to God, I want to share my story. Praise the Lord for His presence and transformation in my husband and our family. God has allowed us to experience wonderful blessings. Since then, He has been lavishing us with one surprise after another.
AN EARTHLY HELL
Five years ago, I lived a “hell on earth”, as other families with drug addicts often say. How could it not be hellish when there was no laughter in our home, only constant yelling, banging, wailing, or sometimes silence filled with sorrow?
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
even when we were dead in our trespasses,
made us alive together in Christ – by grace you have been saved.
I married Trung Quoc Nam when I was 21 years old. It was the year 2000 and I was attending my third year in college. I fell in love with him the day he shared with me about his past when he was a drug addict and in and out of jail. Several months later, I realized that drugs were potent, and destructive to human beings. He dropped out of school and got into gambling, lying, and deceiving family members to get money. He even robbed people on the street. His body was scrawny and pale. He was selling home furniture piece by piece for money to buy drugs. His mother tried every possible way to get him treated to no avail. My solution was to just love him. So I decided to marry him within two years.
No mother or father would ever want their daughter to marry a drug addict. My parents strongly advised me against this marriage. Ten days before the wedding, Trung completed a rehab session. Never had I seen my father so grieved. He said to me: “You are my only daughter. I don’t want you to marry an addict. I would rather see you cry today than see you cry the rest of your life.” I wept much as I was listening to my father’s advice, but I still proceeded with the wedding since I hoped this marriage would bring a big change in Trung’s life. He would have a new life.
Throughout the first six years of our marriage, my hopes never materialized. My family’s life gradually became hell, our house became empty as nothing of value was left to be sold. We went to various rehabilitation places for treatment and tried various medications but all to no avail. Many times, my family and I had to use iron chains to lock him up. At such times, I cared for him and give him massages. My heart ached every time I saw him going through withdrawal symptoms. The first three days were the most stressful because withdrawal symptoms were at their worst. Taking advantage of a moment when I was too exhausted to notice, he broke the chains and the door. He wrapped the chains around his body, covered them with clothes, and sneaked out to find drugs. We had to move several times because our neighbors could not stand his disruptive behavior. The neighbors knew when my husband came home because of the weeping, yelling or some other calamity. Sometimes he threatened to burn blankets and sheets if no one gave him money. One time the house was caught on fire and his mom called the police. My family felt shame in the presence of our neighbors.
This all brought me great sorrow, but I did not dare to share with anyone, especially with my parents and friends. Whether going to work or meeting people, I tried to put on a smile, but deep down there was much sorrow and despair. I felt trapped, not knowing how to escape my dilemma. Many times, I wanted to commit suicide by hanging myself, in hopes that he would regret and live a better life. A year after our wedding, during the Lunar New Year, everyone was laughing joyously, but my heart was indescribably sad. Our home was closed to visitors. Trung’s mother loved me and sympathized with me. In moments of pain my mother-inlaw and I would embrace each other and sob.
FATHER HOLDING HIS OWN CHILD FOR RANSOM
In the midst of this sorrow and hopelessness, I became pregnant with our first daughter, Quynh-Anh. That was when I felt a new ray of hope. I thought if we were to have a child, he would love his child, and he would change. However, it worked out contrary to what I had in mind. When Quynh-Anh was one month old, he came home asking for money. In the middle of Hanoi’s cold and wet winter night, despite my loud cries, Trung seized Quynh-Anh and took her down the street. He forced his mother and me to give him money in exchange for the child. I was heartbroken; How could he treat his own infant daughter like that? There was not an ounce of human love left in him!
After that day, our family decided to put him through the Government’s Rehabilitation Center for a year. When he came home a year later, he got addicted again in just a few months. Our family had no choice but to send him back to rehab.
A CHILD WITHOUT A FATHER’S LOVE
Quynh-Anh grew up without her father’s love. She was three when her dad was in rehab for two and a half years. Every time she asked about her daddy, I lied and told her that her father was on a business trip. I tried many ways to make up for the father-figure that was lacking in her life, a father to play with and to learn from. I saw her sadness, timidity, and isolation. Many times, I wanted to file for divorce, but then I thought of my daughter. What would happen to her if her parents left each other? How would my husband survive without his wife and daughter beside him? I thought about him living on the street, and I could not bear such thoughts.
My parents’ house was near West Lake in Hanoi. Every time I took Quynh-Anh past the lake, she asked me to let her pedal the duckboats. West Lake had small duck-shaped pedal boats for families to ride together. In order to ride, she needed to have both mom and dad paddle the boat. So, I turned to my daughter and said, “We cannot ride the duck-boat, my child, because we don’t have Dad with us…” QuynhAnh asked, “Mom, then when will we have Dad?” After hearing that, my heart throbbed as my tears fell. Our daughter had a father but lived as though she had none. When would my daughter have both her parents so she could go on these duck-boats?
After several trips between the rehab centers and home, my husband no longer seemed human. After almost two years in rehab, he no longer dared to use drugs, for fear that he would be forced back to rehab centers. He replaced his drug addictions with cigarettes, gambling, and alcohol. He blatantly indulged himself with hookers in my presence. I sank into depression, feeling hurt by his betrayal. My pillows were soaked with tears; I wailed for my intolerable life.
The pain seemed to never end. I found out I was pregnant with our second child. Thiên Ân (which means Heavenly Blessings).
I had to work every day to provide for my children. As for Trung, he found creative ways to extort money from me for his reckless pleasures. I could not work in peace. He regularly made phone calls and came to my workplace to force me to give him money. Not wanting my coworkers to know, I gave him the money so he would leave. One day, I was adamant about not giving him any more money so I wouldn’t go broke. He went into a rage and forced me to go home. He forbade me to go back to work. I resisted. So he grabbed my arm and dragged me some distance on the street while I was six months pregnant with Thien-An. Not until he saw me weep heavily did he leave me alone.
At the lowest depths of despair, we saw the merciful hand of God. He loved us even before we knew Him. He had a plan. One day in November 2006, my mother-in -law ran into one of my husband’s old friends, who used to be heavily addicted to drugs. She was surprised to see him well behaved and happy. He took the initiative to greet her. In the past, he would have avoided her altogether because she often scolded him for enticing her son into drugs. My mother-in-law decided to visit his mother to find out the truth. There, she heard the testimony of the transforming power of God from Trung’s friend. That evening, a group of people came to our home and shared with us about Jesus. We realized God had delivered many other addicts from drugs. Some had been freed from drugs for a year, some for two years, and some for as long as seven years. After listening to many miraculous testimonies that night, our whole family knelt down and asked God to reign in our hearts, come into our lives, be our Lord and Savior, and be the Master of our lives. We asked for miracles and healing from God for our family.
TRANSFORMED BY THE WORD OF GOD
Subsequently, Pastor Si Tan Ngo, the founder of Born Again Family Rehabilitation Center at Binh Long, allowed Trung to live in the center. The pastor cared for him by teaching him the Bible every day. Pastor Si was surprised to see that even during the first few days at the Center, Trung was devoted to reading and learning Scripture. Looking back, Trung said, “After 14 days of reading and learning God’s Word, God miraculously transformed me. The thoughts in my head were under control; I could no longer use profanity. There were times I even tried to spell out bad words to say but was unable to. I was unable to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol… His Word had transformed me.” After listening to his testimony, I felt reverent and grateful toward such an awesome and wonderful God. He alone could accomplish the things that prisons, chains, rehabilitation centers, and even family love could not.
I thank God for all that He has done for our family. “We have walked with God for six years, and even to this day, the Lord continually renews our lives. As the Scripture says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” Yes! God turned my husband’s old self into a new person in Christ. The old self was a drug addict, an alcoholic, a smoker, a gambler, and an adulterer with many other promiscuous and destructive habits. The new person has no taste for those things. Now, he passionately reads God’s Word, seeking the Lord every day. On his lips are no more bitter and cruel words, and no more profanity; instead, they are replaced with sweetness, gentleness, kindness, and genuine smiles. Once he was someone who had no love for anyone else, now he is a person into whom God pours His love so he may love God, his parents, wife, children, and many others. My husband’s parents are no longer sorrowful; instead, their faces are full of peace and joyous smiles. QuynhAnh and Thien-An finally have a father who cares and plays with them. God has given us another son Hai-Dang who is now 2 years old. Every time I see the four of them playing with one another, I feel so blessed. “Hell on Earth” of the past has now been transformed by God into “Heaven on Earth.” Our tears have been turned into laughter. Our neighbors once humiliated and shunned us, now have voted us “The Role-Model Family”. Once our home was filled with the sounds of yelling and banging, now is filled with gentle praise music. Even in our sleep, we are covered by our praises to God. My husband has such a passion for listening to God’s Word that whenever we turn the music off, he puts on sermons or Bible CDs. Our family cannot miss God’s Word and praise for even one day.
We thank God for giving our family a new life. He has given us peace, joy, blessings, and healing. There are challenging times, but we all are at peace under any circumstance because we know God is with us.
BLESSINGS FLOW TO OUR FAMILY & FRIENDS
God’s salvation did not stop there; it spilled over to our family and our loved ones. After our family knew God for about a year, my mother-inlaw’s older sister and her son received the Lord at Christmastime. My brother and his wife also accepted Christ. After suffering with me for years, my parents saw the change in Trung and received the Lord. Over time, God has saved many of our relatives. We are forever grateful to our God.
SERVING THE LORD ALONG SIDE MY HUSBAND
Thanks to the Lord for his tremendous and unending grace. Jesus sought and rescued Nam Quoc Trung. He had a good plan for us. Once an addict with a devil-may-care attitude and without purpose, Trung now feels there is a purpose to his life after God transformed him into “a servant to help other addicts.”
He is serving God in the ministry, helping many convicts, drug addicts, gamblers, alcoholics, and sex traffickers so they and their families can find new life in Jesus. I joyfully serve God in this ministry.
Currently, my primary job is to support the female victims of social ill. These women deserve our compassion as they’ve been trampled underfoot, rejected, abused and disrespected. Caring for them would require great patience and love. That is why I asked the Lord: “May your love overflow in my heart so that I may love these sisters and show them patience.” Most women had to be constantly watched over and prayed for during their first few days in the rehab program at our center. Praise God. I don’t come to them by my own strength, but by His strength, love, and power.
God has allowed me to experience His strength through prayer – and it is His power that sets these addicts free.
Some sisters going through withdrawal said they felt as though ants were crawling in their bones, causing them indescribable agony. They kept tossing, turning, and screaming out “Please pray for me!” Immediately, we laid hands on them and prayed for them. Sometimes they fell down and slept even before we had a chance to finish our prayers. When they woke up, they were back in their right minds and well again. I have prayed for many who have experienced the same power of prayer.
Usually, an addict would take five to seven days to break out of their withdrawal symptoms, but God has alleviated the symptoms of many of them as fast as two days. One sister was tossing and turning on the first day; but after prayer on the second day, she was back in her right mind and was fine again. There were also those who were possessed by demons but after we prayed, God delivered them into His grace. Demons even told us their names as they came out. Thanks to God for His wondrous power which He reveals to all, especially drug addicts.
Praise God. We are not the only married couple that are walking together in ministry. Beside God as our loving companion, other brothers and sisters who have experienced God’s power, love, and redemption also join us in providing support and care to those who come after them. We lead the new brothers and sisters in Bible study which renews them each day. They learn to play musical instruments, sing, and worship God. We provide opportunities for them to work so they can support themselves financially and not be a burden to their family and society.
Our present joy is to see many people encounter Jesus and be transformed. Many weddings have been conducted at our church, and many babies have been brought into this world. Those who were once drowned in drugs, sin, dead-ends and hopelessness, now experience a new life filled with blessings and peace from God.
A FINAL REMARK TO ALL MY SISTERS
When I wrote this, I thought about women all over the world. If you are a wife, a mother who is depressed, feeling trapped, or is drowning in deep sorrow because of your husband or your children, I invite you to come to Jesus Christ. Bring your husband and your children to Him as well. Give everything to God and depend on Him. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).
Then Jesus said, “Come to me,
all of you who are weary
and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.”
Jesus will give you rest when you depend on Him. Jesus is the Only One who can change a person. He is also the One who can resolve every issue in your life. I used to believe that through my love and hard work I would bring changes to my addicted husband, but now I know better. Only Christ Jesus and the power of His Word can set him free. Every time I think about the wonderful blessings from God on my family, one thought comes to mind: I wish we had known God sooner.