Our ‘made and raised in Vietnam’ family

Rebekah Windsor and her husband Kelvin are field workers with ACCI Missions & Relief and directors of AOG World Relief Vietnam – a Christian non-governmental development organisation. Here Rebekah describes how they were called to this part of the world.

Living abroad, you are often asked, “Where are you from?” Yet, for anyone in our shoes (or sandals), the answer is often far from simple.

We are a family of four (or five if counting our dog, Milkshake, who our daughter thinks should always be counted) who live and minister in Vietnam. We have two children, aged 11 and 9, who we affectionately describe as “made and raised in Vietnam”, though both were born in Australia during furlough seasons.

To be fair to the grandparents, we gave birth to one child in each “home state”, so our daughter is from New South Wales like her mumma and our son is Victorian like his daddy.

Speaking of Daddy, aka Kelvin, he has some unusual origins. He is the son of two immigrants – his father came to Australia from India and his mother is from Myanmar. Today, the average extended family event looks like a budget version of a UN gathering, with seven nations represented. Yes, the cuisine is amazing!

So, the next time you hear someone ask the infamous four-word question (“Where are you from?”), have a little knowing chuckle thinking of people like us.

How we got here

How did we become the “made and raised in Vietnam” family?

I was practically raised in church and slept through my first church service – given I was less than 72 hours old! Fast forward a few years, and our family moved churches to support a new church plant in the western suburbs of Sydney, led by American missionaries Jack and Carol Hanes. At their first missions conference, a pastor from Indonesia shared so passionately about the need for the gospel around the world that I decided, “When I grow up, I want to do that.”

It was almost 20 years before I knew Vietnam was the place for me. I was sitting at the lunch table during our weekly staff devotion at church (where I was working) and our pastor shared about Vietnam. The work he described made my heart jump up and down like a bouncy ball. Within weeks, I was on a plane to spy out the land, and less than three months later, aged 23, I made it a permanent move.

Enter Kelvin, who came on a short-term mission trip to Vietnam just a few months after starting in full-time ministry in Melbourne. For one of us, it was love at first sight. We’ll leave it to you to guess which one.

For Kelvin, that trip was just another part of his journey with God. His Catholic parents started reading the Bible after being invited to the Alpha evangelical course. Their spiritual hunger wasn’t well received where they were, so they decided to seek out a new church home. They visited Faith Christian Church in Melbourne and never left.

Kelvin felt God ask if he was serious in his declaration to be sent and go.

Kelvin was heavily involved with youth and other ministry areas at church. One year, he attended a Planetshakers Conference, and as they were singing the song Send Me, he felt God ask if he was serious in his declaration to be sent and go. Fast forward a few years, he meets an Aussie gal ministering in Vietnam and feels God say, “She’s the one.”

He bravely pursued me via email and text messages, sending flowers and thoughtful gifts for a solid year before I even acknowledged I liked him. For me, I was a missionary in Vietnam, and he was a pastor in Australia. It could never work. But God …

Once I said yes to dating, we dated long distance for six months until we both felt it was time to get married. I moved back to Australia, and we married a few months later. A year-and-a-half into our marriage, we were invited to live and minister in Vietnam. Within a few months, we raised the needed support and moved to Vietnam. That was May 2011, a few months before our second wedding anniversary. We’ve been here ever since.

Where we are now

We’re fast approaching 13 years in Vietnam together now, having added two kids and a dog to our Team Windsor tribe, and we’re loving the life God has blessed us with.

We reside and work in two provinces (states) located in Central Vietnam as directors of an international non-government organisation called AOG World Relief Vietnam. Our organisation was founded in 1996 and has been a vital partner in the region’s development.

Central Vietnam is quickly becoming quite the tourist hub. But with this influx of foreigners from all over the world comes a new range of challenges – including a growing economic, physical, social and emotional divide between those benefiting from the tourist dollar and those who are not.

With this influx of foreigners from all over the world comes a new range of challenges.

Vietnam is no longer classed as an undeveloped nation, having earned lower middle-income status several years ago. Yet, there are still hundreds of thousands of households living below the poverty line, with many more struggling to live off minimal incomes. The gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” is growing.

To truly “pursue justice through empowering communities to transform their society”, as our vision statement says, we must constantly adjust our programs and projects to account for the differentiated needs of each person, family and community. A “one-size-fits-all” approach is ineffective and inefficient.

This can be easier said than done; some days are significantly harder than others. But, when it comes down to it, we know we are called. As the saying goes, “When God guides, he always provides.” We give him glory for the way he continues to provide in so many ways. And we look forward to being part of what he is doing in our midst.

You can find out more about the Windsor family and the ministry they’re involved with at aogwr.org or ‘aogwrvn’ on social media.