Vinh Chung was 3 years old when his family fled post-war Vietnam by boat in 1979. When they landed on a Malaysian beach, they were turned away by soldiers, towed back out to sea, and left to die on a leaky boat with no working motor. Chung and the other 92 people aboard his boat were taken aboard World Vision's Seasweep and later accepted as refugees in Singapore.
Chung is currently a member of the board of directors at World Vision U.S.
Vinh Chung was just 3 years old when his family fled post-war Vietnam by boat in 1979. When they landed on a Malaysian beach, they were turned away by soldiers, towed back out to sea, and left to die on a leaky boat with no working motor.
After nearly a week adrift with little food or drinkable water, a freighter called Seasweep came to their rescue. Run by World Vision, Seasweep was the first international mercy ship to provide food and medical care to thousands of Vietnamese refugees similarly abandoned on boats in the South China Sea.
Chung and the other 92 people aboard his boat, including his parents and seven siblings, were taken aboard Seasweep and later accepted as refugees in Singapore. A church in Fort Smith, Arkansas, with a vibrant ministry for Vietnamese refugees eventually sponsored the family and helped them relocate to the United States.
There, each of his family members gave their lives to Christ. Starting over with nothing, Chung excelled in school, becoming an all-state football player and valedictorian of his class. He attended Harvard University, where he studied biology.
He later earned a master’s degree in theology from the University of Edinburgh as well as a medical degree from Harvard Medical School. He also studied as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Sydney.
In 2002, he and his wife, Leisle, went back to Vietnam to visit family members who had been unable to escape. Seeing what his life could have been, Chung further resolved to use what God had given him to serve the poor.
“I owe my life to so many people whom I’ve never met and likely never will,” he says. “Without a doubt, if it had not been for World Vision, the story of my life would have ended anonymously at the age of 3 in the South China Sea,” he says.
“Luke 12:48 talks about when we face God, we have to be accountable for everything we have. I imagine a conversation with my kids when they become adults and learn about children suffering in this world, and they’ll ask me, ‘Dad, what have you done about it?’”
Today, Chung is a board-certified dermatologist and specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. He runs a large medical practice in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he and Leisle live with their four children.
Chung is currently a member the board of directors at World Vision, United States. His memoir, Where the Wind Leads, was released by Thomas Nelson publishers in April 2014.
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