Where the Wind Leads
05.09.14 | | Comments
A memoir by Vinh Chung with Tim Downs
A story of loss, rescue, and redemption
While I do love to read for a variety of reasons, there are some books that come along that hit one at a deeper level…these are the books that cut into your bedtime and then into your sleep time as you go over in your head what you just absorbed. Where the Wind Leads was one of those books for me. It’s not fiction, or even a biography, but a memoir. For me, it was also a history lesson.
Where the Wind Leads tells the story of a family – a well-to-do Chinese family – who happened to live in South Vietnam. Through various set-backs and wars, they had managed to prosper, but the Vietnam War which ended with the takeover by Communism, proved to be the one storm they could not ride out.
I grew up during the Vietnam War – living an insulated life as many of us did – we heard of terrible things, of young men killed, of anti-war demonstrations, but we did not hear the story as told by a Vietnamese family. And I’d heard of the “boat people” – those who were sponsored by churches in America, starting over in a new land. But that sentence covers most of what I knew.
Vinh Chung tells the story from a different perspective – as one of the youngest children in a large family, and with the memories of his family to help him. He tells the story of the money it took to bribe officials to leave, the fear of boarding a boat that was barely sea-worthy, for an unknown future, of moving slowly through heavy waves with no land in sight, through pirate-infested waters. And then, when the joy of land appeared, to find it patrolled by unhospitable soldiers, because of the thousands of refugees who had already come. This is a story of hardship and hunger and fear and courage, but as you continue to read, you realize that it’s also a story of God’s grace. For the thousands who tried but failed, for the unbelievable odds against this one family and their overcrowded boat, you cannot miss that God had his hand on them or they would never have succeeded. And even with little knowledge of Christianity, Vinh’s father came to realize that the Creator God was the only One to appeal to.
In a time when we continue to hear nightly news stories about refugees, you need to read this book to understand what the word “refugee” means in human terms. If you enjoy reading stories of God’s grace, of people overcoming with God’s help, then you need to read this book. And if you’re just looking for a good inspirational book, pick this one! You won’t be sorry.