Opposition and Opportunity
Hanoi was a place the Marines never got to, though the bombers did and the fruit of their carpet bombing set the stage for massive post-war building and development. Years later, our prayer team walked the streets of Hanoi and cried out to the Lord for open doors to share the love of Jesus with these people.
My friend Dan Telep and his wife Kitty were key to that team, for Dan was combatant during the war and had been medevacked out of combat on two occasions. During our prayer walk, we had traveled through the DMZ and actually been to the place where Dan had been wounded. We were closing windows with Vietnam Vets in those days, and Dan and Kitty found beautiful closure to many issues as the Holy Spirit touched them. Like so many combat veterans, Dan had lived in the shadow of events he could not adequately describe to his wife, and she had tried to reach through the shadows with love for him. Bringing them to the place gave understanding, and Jesus brought healing.
Dan and Kitty know the four principles of friendship:
1. A man who would have friends must show himself friendly
2. We do not wrestle with flesh and blood
3. I never met a man I didn’t like
4. Opposition is the greatest opportunity
So I was not surprised when we went to visit a local museum dedicated to Vietnam’s victory over the United States. Visiting this place was a tough pill for both of us as we are veterans. To see boots and helmets and dog tags of our fellow countrymen on display was, in a word, horrendous. Gut-wrenched and very emotional, we had little time for the guide who came to explain to us the victory.
Begging a few moments to ourselves, I explained to this young captain that my friend had fought in the First Marine Division in the DMZ, and this was really difficult for him. She asked the dates of his service and understandingly gave us space to grieve for our friends who had died in the conflict.
After about ten minutes, she returned with an older uniformed officer who spoke English well and shared that he had fought in the DMZ against the Marines on those same dates. I watched as the two former combatants who had used all the firepower available to them trying to kill each other first looked, then saluted, then shook hands, then embraced.
For two days, Dan, Kitty, and the colonel built a friendship moving from the commonality of killing to friendship in Jesus. With their wives involved, these two men found peace in Jesus.
Through this friendship, we were invited to meet and share the Lord with members of the peace negotiation team who were now restructuring the nation of Vietnam.
Opposition is opportunity to those who are ready to forgive the past and embrace the future.