Forged by a Repressive Childhood
Vietnamese church planting couple grew up in trying times as their fathers served time in political prisoner camps.Trac Huynh and his wife, Amy Nguyen, both moved to the U.S. a little over three decades ago as teenaged political refugees from Vietnam. They didn’t know each other in their homeland; they met in high school in Portland, Oregon.
Yet the couple share a similar heritage of growing up without their fathers, both starting at age 2. Trac’s father served as an officer in the South Vietnamese army, fighting alongside U.S. troops. When the communist North Vietnamese prevailed, Trac’s father, Quan, went to a prison camp for nine years. Amy’s father, Quang, also a South Vietnamese army officer, spent eight years incarcerated.
“We didn’t have a good childhood because our dads weren’t present,” recalls Amy, 49. “We faced poverty, discrimination, and with four siblings we tried everything to survive.” The family eked out a living as rice and potato farmers.
Trac and his three siblings faced comparable struggles. During his father’s detention, his mother, Kim Van Nguyen, worked at a cosmetic shop while raising four children.
“My dad was physically bad when he was released,” recalls Trac, 49. “It took a while to recover physically and mentally.” Quan is now 82 and living in Portland.
At 17, Trac and Amy both accepted Jesus — as did their entire families — while still living in Vietnam. Amy lived in Da Nang and Trac in Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City.
“My dad struggled until he met Jesus,” Amy remembers. “Then he became kind and calm.” Quang now is 82 and in good health in Portland.
An Assemblies of God church, Vietnamese Community Church in Portland, sponsored the family’s resettlement in America.
Trac and Amy wed in 2000, took Global University courses, and have been involved in various ministry roles. They are in the process of obtaining AG ministerial credentials and in March plan to launch Vietnamese Outreach Gospel Church in Portland.
“God called us to start a church for young families,” Trac says. Several relatives will be among the attendees and are part of the core team. Trac and Amy recently attended an AG Church Multiplication Network Launch Training event in the Seattle area.
“CMN helped a lot in giving fresh direction,” Trac says. “I love how they lay out the training and all the resources they give to help us out.”
Trac will be bivocational. He is a full-time supervisor of city bus drivers. Amy has been a stay-at-home mom to the couple’s two children, Tracy and Travis, both now in college.
Amy has wrestled with health challenges, including undergoing two kidney transplants. She is doing OK for now, but her countenance indicates nothing is amiss. She is a constant smiler.
“Amy has an amazing ability to lift people up in a natural way,” says Que N. Nguyen, president of the AG’s Vietnamese Fellowship, which comprises 15 churches. “She has the fit of genuinely seeing the goodness in people, regardless of their age or gender.”
Que can relate to Trac’s and Amy’s heritage as well. Que’s dad, Vy, fought alongside U.S. soldiers against the Viet Cong, went to a hard labor camp, and left a void in her life during childhood.
Yet such experiences build character and provide an ability to minister, according to Que, 48.
“Trac and Amy are very humble, they love God, are hardworking, and they love people,” says Que, who is pastor of Vietnamese Christian Center in Worcester, Massachusetts. “Their positivity is contagious.”