HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam (BP)–“For 43 years, there hasn’t been a day in my life that I haven’t thought about Vietnam,” Bobby Welch told a crowd of nearly 725 Vietnamese believers, former missionaries and government officials celebrating 50 years of Baptist work in Vietnam.
Welch, strategist for global evangelical relations for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, attended the Nov. 15 celebration at Grace Baptist Church in Ho Chi Minh City and delivered the keynote address during the worship service.
Speaking on the theme, “Walking with Christ: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” Welch recalled his visit to Vietnam in 2005 when he was president of the SBC. He also touched on the time he spent in Vietnam in the 1960s as a soldier in the U.S. Army.
Welch recounted his story of being shot at point-blank range on a jungle trail by a Viet Cong soldier. Thinking he would surely die, Welch prayed a simple prayer and miraculously survived his life-threatening injuries. That experience led him to recommit his life to Christ and embark on a life of service to God.
“I have often told my wife that if I could find that soldier who shot me, I would bring him to my house, give him the best room, feed him the best meal and embrace him like a brother because of how God used him to change my life,” Welch told the crowd.
In his role with the SBC Executive Committee, Welch is responsible for building global relationships among Baptist leaders and other evangelicals.
Welch applauded steps by the government of Vietnam to provide more religious freedom. In January 2008, the government officially recognized the Vietnam Baptist Convention and its work across the country.
“I was in Vietnam yesterday,” said Welch of his visits to the country. “I am here walking with you in Christ today, and if you will allow us, we will be here walking with you tomorrow.”
Reported by Baptist Press’ international bureau.