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The jungles of Northern Laos were home to some people and many spirits. The Hmong called this area home; they had to share their home with ghosts that inhabited the trees, the valleys, the rocks. Faiv Her was born here. It was not an easy life.
The Hmong people, adjuncts with the American Army in the Vietnam War, fought daily wars with their surroundings. As shaminists, they feared spirits inhabiting rivers, rocks, trees, mountains – they worshiped the created things and did not know the Creator. Except for a few. One of those was nine year old Faiv Her.
Faiv Her was not popular with his classmates, or even his relatives. When he became a Christian at nine years old, he frightened the others around him. If you did not placate the ghosts, the spirits of the forests and mountains, they would do harm, not just to you, but to the Hmong Clan, the Her people. He found support from his mother and a boyhood friend to worship the Creator God and His Son, Jesus.
Out of gratitude to their allies in the war, the Americans redeemed the Hmong; they made it possible for them to immigrate to the United States. Faiv Her and his family were settled in Selma, Alabama. They did not know what to expect. I know what some of you may be thinking – Selma, the site of the great March to Montgomery, and the infamous Pettus Bridge and the ghosts of “Bloody Sunday.” What kind of reception would refugees from Laos find there? In fact, they found redemption in Selma.
The Christians of Selma made the refugees welcome. Alabama Avenue United Methodist Church in Selma served the Holy Spirit. The Christians provided love and support, and the pastor of the church provided a ride to church every Sunday. Faiv Her, not able to speak English, and having no knowledge of how to act in school, was confused when the change class bell rang and everyone left. He stood alone, except for one girl with a beautiful spirit, who stayed behind, took his hand and led him to the next class. A long way from the jungles and the ghosts of Laos, in Selma, Alabama he now shared a home with Jesus’ Spirit, a presence that brings peace and comfort.
Over the years his English improved. Faiv went on to earn a college degree, and then graduated from Concordia Seminary and was ordained as a pastor in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. He pastors Hmong Hope Lutheran church in Milwaukee. Now he helps other refugees find their way, not just in the culture, but to heaven. He says, “If the Hmong can be led to believe in Jesus, anyone can!” His dream, powered by Gods’s Holy Spirit, is that through his ministry many people in all ethnic groups will come to know God’s love in Jesus, the Messiah for the world.
At Easter, Jesus returned from many trials to stand with us. No Ghost, He came in the flesh, taught us, loved us, suffered for us and died for us. Now He has risen. You and I do not stand alone. He takes us by the hand and leads us to the next step, the next class, the next phase of life, guided by the Spirit of Peace. We are immigrants and refugees, going to our true homeland. Even if you are not sure what to expect in life, this Savior secures our future. Immigrants and refugees, forgiven, at home, redeemed, comforted by the Holy Spirit for eternity.