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Vietnam vet's emotional hurts healed by God

July 26, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN -- Neal Spencer took no religion with him to Vietnam in 1969. And he only brought back anger and hurt from the horrors of the war.

But the Lord was relentless in his pursuit of him, Spencer told more than 100 people gathered Sunday for an outdoor Christ Community Church service at Family Recreation Park on U.S. 40 east of Hagerstown.

"I accepted God in 1997 and all the hurt was gone," Spencer said.

Since then he has poured himself into missionary work in Vietnam with the Vietnam Orphans/Family Assistance program.

A House of Prayer has been erected in Tra Vinh, Vietnam, and four homes have been rebuilt through the generosity of individuals and churches in America, Spencer said.

Christ Community Pastor Rich Carr introduced Spencer to the congregation, which sang, prayed and listened through the morning, and then stayed for a covered-dish luncheon and family playtime.

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Spencer, whose ministry is based in Illinois, travels the country sharing his message. Trips to Vietnam are also a big part of his work.

Describing himself as a Catholic who went to church only on Christmas and Easter before he went to Vietnam, Spencer said he was a weapons adviser during his two-year stint there during the war.

"My job was to teach the Vietnamese army how to kill," he said. "And I was good at it."

That experience bred a coldness in his heart that took a long time to heal. Spencer married a Vietnamese woman and brought her back to the U.S. when his tour was over. She died last year.

"I came home an angry man ... not a good husband and not a good father," Spencer said.

It was at the insistence of one of his sons that he went to church. There, Spencer finally let go of his pain and his anger 12 years ago and turned his life around.

He said the idea for the missionary work for orphans was born out of an experience in 1969 when Spencer's unit held a on Christmas party for Vietnamese children.

"A little girl got a Raggedy Ann doll with only one arm, but she prayed her thanks to God anyway," Spencer said. "God put that picture in my heart and I knew he had something in store for me."

For more information about Spencer's tax-exempt organization, write to VOFAP Ministries, 1256 Trend Drive, Morris, IL 60450 or send e-mail to vofap6869@yahoo.com.

Christ Community Church regularly meets Sundays at 8916 Mapleville Road, Boonsboro. Worship is at 10:15 a.m. and Sunday school begins at 9 a.m.

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