Working Title: Straining Forward
This Book Is In Development
In the early morning hours of January 31, 1968, New Year fireworks gave way to gunfire and bombs. Eleven-year-old Minh watched in horror as her father and two siblings were gunned down by the Vietcong in their backyard. Though she escaped the bullets that night, abuse, prison, and torture would follow. A dramatic escape by boat on the South China Sea finally takes Minh out of communist Vietnam, but the tragedy of her childhood would continue to haunt her. From France to Australia to the United States, Minh struggles to find her place in a country she does not call home in a world she does not understand. While each journey leads her to question God’s very existence or purpose for her life, they also draw her into a closer relationship with Him and toward a vocation in ministry. Minh’s powerful story of escape, as well as dangerous and unhealthy relationships throughout her life, is told with raw sincerity. Straining Forward is a riveting spiritual journey of hope and healing that reminds readers that we are more than victims of circumstance and that even in our loneliest and most desolate moments, we are never truly alone.
I have never been faced with having to make a choice between living in a communist country or taking a chance at escape via the open seas. Yet this is what thousands of South Vietnamese residents were forced to decide. It is estimated that more than 300,000 refugees died at sea following the end of the Vietnam War. Minh Phuong, luckily, was not part of that statistic even though she, and some 30 other individuals, traveled on a boat too small to navigate the South China Sea and too ill-equipped to arrive safely at a friendly port. Her only chance of survival was to be rescued by a passing ship before hunger, dehydration, nausea, pirates, storms, sharks, or the heat won out.
I will never truly understand what Minh experienced as a child of the Vietnam War, but I tried to tell her story in first person in order to create a deeper sense of empathy. After "Straining Forward" came to print, Minh paid me the highest compliment by saying that I had accurately conveyed feelings she had been unable to articulate. It is my hope that readers of this book who have turned a blind eye to the plight of refugees and orphans will now be moved to compassion and cry for justice.
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