It may not be easy helping a nation that defeated us in war. But it is right.

In the face of injustice, rising tension, and military build-up, it is easy to forget that the church has been given “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:8). When confronted with cunning evil and brute violence, it is easy to ignore Jesus’ injunction to “love your enemies” (Matt. 5:44). Certainly for many conservative churches during the Vietnam War, these imperatives of the gospel were pushed down on our list of priorities.

But now 15 years have gone by since the end of American involvement in Vietnam, and perhaps what we have lacked in speed can be made up in quality. As Terry Muck’s essay in this issue (“An American in Hanoi,” p. 24) makes clear, Vietnam is still a country in need of reconciliation and love.

After World War II, it was easy to play the role of the benevolent winner and generously help those countries that were ruined by the war. But in Vietnam, we did not win. Not only that, but we were torn in two as a nation, united only in our grief over the 58,000 soldiers we lost. In many ways these wounds are still very much with us.

It is the peculiar genius of the gospel to transform the tragic into an epiphany of love. As wounded healers, we are called to act out God’s ministry of redemption. In the context of Vietnam, this means that the American church has an opportunity to incarnate the gospel, to exchange bitter memories for a vision of hope, to reach out in love to those who were our enemies, to go the extra mile of providing aid and services to the winners of the unofficial war.

And this is precisely what some Christian organizations have been doing. Groups such as World Vision, ...

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