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John & Heather Radu

As we move closer to our departure date, we will have to remove our story below.  There will be minimal details about us at that point for our security.  If you would like to receive our newsletter for updates once we move, send us an email at johnandheather@protonmail.com with your name and we will add you to our mailing list.  Please also add us to your contact list so that it doesn't go to your junk mail.  Lastly, please don't mention anything we are doing on social media or use social media as a way of contacting us.  Thanks to all!

Non-churched to Missionaries:  Our JourneyThe only thing we ask is that as you are reading this, please don’t publicly share this and/or if sharing our story please don’t include our names or anyone in our stories name. The country we will be going to is a closed country and we can very easily be kicked out. Please help us by protecting our identity. Thanks

When we moved to Tennessee, the only place Heather did not want to move to was Farragut. We bought a house in Farragut. This meant that we drove by First Baptist Concord on a daily basis. While we both grew up without any significant church background, we decided to try out church. Why not try the one that we drive by every day? We had no idea that it was a church with a missionary focus. We attended occasionally and didn’t really get much from the service. However, we stuck it out. We made all kinds of excuses for not attending regularly including having young kids, work schedule, etc. One day, as we were dropping off our kids in their Sunday school class, another couple invited us to their adult Sunday school class. We both said sure without hesitation but had no idea what we said yes to. We were in that class for several years and slowly started learning about Jesus and developing a relationship with Him. During that time, we grew close with the class and learned so much. Ultimately, people were called in different directions and the class began to thin out. We eventually got new teachers, Janet and Tim. Several of our friends left the class, but we stayed.

The class began to grow exponentially. Our teacher, also our Mission’s Pastor, had been on the field, and had a flare in is teaching towards Mission. We had no interest in missions, but enjoyed his teaching and began learning a great deal from the Bible.

In 2017-18, we had several encounters with missionaries. First, we met a family who had been living amongst Kurds, working with Muslims. They joined our Sunday school class for many months due to medical issues. They had a light about them even though they had experienced incredible challenges. After spending an evening with them listening to their stories, we both said that we were thankful for people like them… and glad God hadn’t called us to do that!

Later that year, we went to the Go Conference (our church’s mission conference) and met a couple that worked with Moroccans in Spain. We got to know them and were fascinated by their stories, but again said we were glad God wasn’t calling us to do anything like that.

Early this year, a couple from our Sunday school class that had decided to pursue missions, learned that they would be moving to Greece. Again, we were proud of them and thankful that God had called them… not us!

Through those experiences, we did decide that one day we would like to take some Mission trips (again when the kids got older). See a pattern of excuses? John also thought that maybe his mission field was right here in Knoxville. However, that just wasn’t happening. He will tell you that it was due to lack of effort more than anything. He wanted to believe Knoxville was his mission field to avoid going to the nations.

We both felt that reaching out to our families was a very important mission for us. Jesus had moved in mighty ways in our life and we wanted to share that with them. With some we feel we planted the seed, but realize they have put things of very little importance in front of their eternity. We continue to pray for them and speak to them about Jesus when given the opportunity. We pray that God opens their hearts and minds and know we did our part of turning the soil and planting the seed.

During all this time, for no clear reason, we downsized our house, sold our second property that we loved (ATVs, Tractor, hunting) and sold our boat that we also loved. We had no need to do this, John just felt like we should. It was a bit of a struggle each time to let go of things we loved and thoroughly enjoyed. But in the end, after each was sold, we had peace with letting go of the objects. As we sold things we loved, Heather also felt the need to give up positions at work. She loved simulation and had literally started the program. All of a sudden she felt unsettled about it. There was conflict surrounding it. She began to pray about it but didn’t have a clear answer. One night she asked God for a specific answer about whether to give it up. She knew the answer would have to do with a specific person. The very next day she received an email from that person stating Simulation would now be under her purview. At that moment, Heather knew the prayer had been answered and she should give Simulation up.

One day in early summer 2019, we were talking. We each shared that we felt we were being called to be missionaries, real missionaries, going to the nations. We both thought the other would think this was crazy! Yes, we were both completely on the same page…hold the train. This is insane! We both love our home (our forever house), our City, our friends and our church where we are still learning so much. We were on pace to become wealthy and live comfortably. However, by this time money had lost its status in our house. How and why would we both be thinking this? Only God could have created such a plan.

We had no idea where we were going or what we would do; we just knew we were supposed to go. We started thinking that we should go on a mission trip if we were being called to the mission field. We found one to Spain and jumped on. We didn’t know why, because it was working with kids and that is not our calling. However, we felt called to that trip. We now see how God worked during that trip, allowing us to meet people that would ultimately help us on our own missionary journey. We worked with the same missionaries that we had met less than a year ago. Heather works with a nurse whose sister lives in Spain and whose husband is well connected and very knowledgeable about sending people out to live intentionally. We were able to meet up with them and discuss opportunities for our future. We did learn that Spain is not where we are being called. The trip did confirm that we are being called to go. Walking in faith, we put the house for sale the day we got back.

After we returned from Spain, we met up with Tim and Janet and had a great discussion. They are both a wealth of knowledge having lived abroad in the past. We had been trying to decide where we should go and praying on it daily. One of us thought SE Asia or South America could be the place, specifically DaNang, Vietnam or Cuenca, Ecuador. The other thought maybe Africa or Canada. We weren’t even on the same continent! As we were talking with them, Vietnam came up. We had been planning to take a trip to SE Asia in the fall. What do you know, Tim was leading a trip to Vietnam the end of October. He then began telling us that there was a city there the church wanted to reach but he couldn’t think of the name. John asked if it was DaNang, the very city he had been researching. Again, what do you know? It WAS!

We can now see that God was slowly working on our hearts to give up those things we were attached to and would keep us here in Knoxville. We have also learned that the Great Commission is not just for some people. We are all given gifts and we are all commanded to spread the Word. We are specifically told to go to the ends of the Earth…not just right here in Knoxville. We now know that we should each be living our lives intentionally. By this, we mean going to a specific coffee shop or grocery store check-out person and get to know them. This will open doors to share the Gospel with them. We should structure our lives around meeting people. We, as Americans, live our lives in a hurry and don’t look up to see the people around us.

Update

We decided to take a week to fast and pray, searching for clarity on our destination. Throughout this time and the time preceding it, we met several people that were involved with Vietnam in different ways. John had several conversations with a variety of people where Vietnam would enter the conversation. We had the opportunity to sit down and hear their stories. We learned that Adel(this is the name we will use), a company that places professionals for intentional living, was beginning to make contacts in Vietnam. They were planning a trip in the fall, around the same time John and I were going to visit Asia. At this time, John was fairly certain that we were being called to Vietnam. I was not, until the end of our fasting week. I woke up the last day of our fast and asked God to make our destination clear. He impressed upon me that he couldn’t make it any clearer. Our new destination is Vietnam!

With that decision made, it was time for a garage sale! All must go! After weeks of cleaning out and sorting, the day arrived. The sale was scheduled to start at 7am but people started showing up early. By 730 there was a line 30 people deep just waiting to pay. It was like the Black Friday of garage sales! Over 500 people showed up! God clearly brought in the people! By the end of the day, 2/3 of what we owned was sold. In addition, a family in our Life Group just bought a house and needed furniture. They bought nearly everything. We have our mattresses, a TV and a table now. What an affirmation that we our following God’s will!

Over the next week, John had 2 more garage sales. He was diligently praying that God would bring a person to him that he could share the Gospel with. However, each person that he met ended up praying for him. What an encouragement to our family as we sell everything to follow Him!

Our house went under contract fairly quickly and closed November 15th, another confirmation from God.

As we mentioned earlier, the placement company, Adel, was planning a trip to Vietnam. The purpose of the trip was for them to meet with multiple hospitals in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. They invited John and I join them! We had not yet been to Vietnam and this seemed like the perfect opportunity for our first visit! We were praying that the trip would bring us clarity about a specific location in Vietnam.

We had a 10 day trip visiting 3 different cities: Hanoi in the North, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in the South and DaNang in the middle of the Country. We were ambitious and very busy. Each city was so different. Hanoi was more historic and traditional. Ho Chi Minh was huge, westernized and busy- like New York City on steroids! DaNang had wide roads, less people and was beautiful.

We met up with several intentional people that had been living in Vietnam for some time. They had knowledge of the area, the food and the language which was such a blessing. In Hanoi, we attended a Church, a life group, ate Bun Cha and learned how to ride a motor bike in a bustling city. Heather had the opportunity to meet with several hospitals and was offered two interviews immediately while in Hanoi.

We then flew to Ho Chi Minh City for a quick visit. It was a very busy place with kind people. Heather again went with Adel and met with several hospitals. At one of the hospitals she was asked to do some teaching. At another, the CEO contacted her to see if she had interest in working there.

We then headed to DaNang. Remember, this was the city that John was drawn to and our missions pastor had mentioned in an earlier conversation. There was so much to do, the air was clean, the streets were clean and wide and you could tell that the population was only about 1.5million. We went to the city with only 2 contacts neither of which we knew. One of the stellar Adel team members had worked hard to find us some people to meet. Little did we know what an amazing blessing those contacts would be! The first couple we met with provided a wealth of information. He had worked in Hanoi and was currently working in a DaNang hospital that he was more than happy to give us a tour of. He also was teaching at a local medical school. Heather lit up listening to all he was sharing. She had hoped there would be some teaching opportunities in Vietnam. His wife was teaching English at the same medical school. Could this be an opportunity for John as well? He had some teaching offers but with young kids. His heart is for the young adults. To top the meeting off, there was a teacher in the café that this couple knew. Schooling had been a big concern as we learned in Hanoi that International Schools are an average of $15-24k per child per year! This teacher talked to us about the school where she teaches that is predominantly expat children. The school is set up as a home schooling school and the cost is about $450 per child per month. It was like God was handing us gift after gift just in the 2 hour conversation!

We got to attend the International Fellowship while there. It was a tiny church that was filled to capacity! As the congregation was singing, we were sure that the singing could be heard for miles! It was amazing and the Spirit was so strong. It was interesting that as we walked in, there was a government building across the street with a gun carrying soldier. What in the world must he think?! The church immediately felt like home, just another gift from God! Heather had asked God before this trip to make it abundantly clear where we should go. The gifts he gave while we were in DaNang and the peace we felt left no question. DaNang would be our new home.

Update 2

Our second trip to Vietnam was also very rewarding. We went with a team from the Church that we were able to grow close with and have great fellowship with. We were able to have many conversations with native believers and seekers, which is something we didn’t really get to experience the first trip. We also were able to attend several different worship services that were incredibly moving and overwhelming. While at these services worshiping with native Brothers and Sisters, John had an overwhelming feeling of this being home.

We also got to visit a Christian Orphanage and how awesome it was. Those kids were truly happy and not only that, those kids will be future Christian leaders of Vietnam.Heather had a couple more interviews both in Ho Chi Minh and Da Nang…no surprise that she was offered jobs at all of them. While in Da Nang, one of the couples we had met on our last trip offered to host us at their flat for the one night we were there. They showed us around town, took us to great food, made us an awesome breakfast of fresh fruit and helped organize interviews. The new medical school was the highlight of the trip and quite possibly where both of us will be employed.

The missionaries that live in Ho Chi Minh that we were working with were such a blessing. They provided so much knowledge, tips, support and open arms for anything we might need in the future. It is a blessing to already have friends from North Vietnam to South Vietnam that we are able to readily rely on, ask for help or ask for prayer.

The hard part of this last trip was that Heather had a bad case of spiritual warfare for nearly the entire trip. She was either nauseous or throwing up each day and even made a trip to the ED. Please make sure you pray for us!

After returning from the trip we still have lots to do. Lots of big decisions that still need to be made. We really need prayers for clarity in what God wants for us. We are already too good at picking out what we want; so instead we want to ensure that every decision is prayerfully thought through.

We have been asked by many- how are we going and with what organization? There are lots of ways to go as a missionary and all are noble. We want to try and go for the most part as “Tent Makers” like Paul in the book of Acts. He both took support and also tried to support himself. There are several reasons we have come to this decision. The main reason is that God has given us both specific gifts that we can use in other countries to largely support ourselves. This allows others to use the resources of organizations and maximize the efforts in the field. Now in saying this, we want to ensure that we pay our own food, lodging and travel. To help with this John will work by teaching English as a Second language in Vietnam and Heather will fly home three times a year for about 3 weeks each trip to continue to work in the hospital. She may also get a job in Vietnam in the medical field or possibly donating services or teaching. With our current estimates, we will probably fall short of breaking even. If we were going for only a year or two, we would just pay any difference out of savings. However, we don’t know how long we will be there so that would not be a good long-term strategy. Because of this, we plan to ask for donations. We joined a missionary giving agency called Mission Quest where people can make a charitable donation. The Bible calls us to give to the Widows, Poor, Orphaned and it demonstrates giving to Ministries including Missionaries. We would never want someone to feel obligated to donate because they know us, are in class with us or any other reason. We would only want money that God has called people to give and would ask that you pray on it. God has been perfectly clear this far and we have faith that he will make ends meet. God has strongly lain it upon our heart that any money someone receives in God’s name should be carefully cared for. Even though all our money is the Lords, this money specifically will be held aside from our own with the utmost care.

Out of an abundance of transparency, I want to inform you of the main expenses that you will be funding through your donations. As stated we plan (God willing) to pay all of our living expenses (housing, utilities, food, life experiences, daily living, etc). Vietnam is a cheap country to live in if you are Vietnamese, but for a young family of Americans there are a lot of added cost. We would ask that you pray to partner with us on Language learning $13-$17K/year, World Health Coverage $12K/year, Ministry Expense $2K-$8K/year, Kids education of $9K/year. All of this totals $36K-$46K/year in donations needed. If the Lord calls us home at some point any surplus will be donated to other missionaries.

If you do decide to give, please give however God leads you. Though we welcome lump sums, we would rather see people give a monthly contribution to our ministry for two reasons. First, in a practical sense it will allow us to budget more easily. Secondly, many missionaries in the field are sadly often forgotten. Not intentionally, but the old saying of out of sight out of mind holds very true. Giving a monthly contribution even if extremely tiny will allow you to remember us and remind you to pray for us.

Many people have made the comment of how noble it is for us to give up so much including our pursuit of wealth. Truly, turning our hearts to God has removed our interest in wealth. Many people create so much stress in their lives by living above their means to keep up with the Jones. People buy stuff they don’t need, get that bigger house they don’t need and can’t afford and waste money in all areas of life (this was us not that long ago). So when we hear this, we really think how blessed we are to be released from the desire for material things. The realization I have found is having more stuff just means more stress. Giving up stuff was the best thing we ever did. We have both had very little money in our life and plenty of money in our life, but were able to find happiness in both. Even if we were unable to find happiness, we would still have the joy provided by God. So don’t look at this as something noble, but instead as a blessing.

In saying all this, we will not be on our own running solo. We will still have spiritual resources and will form teams with others that are in the field and here at home. We may even call on you for help, so be ready, especially for prayers. We have already been creating a network in Vietnam that will continue to expand.

If you would like to donate, just click the Give button.