A new translation of the Bible will soon be distributed in Vietnam in the Vietnamese language thanks to the efforts of a former refugee living in Fort Smith, Ark.
Tam Pham is a member of Fianna Hills Baptist Church and has spent the last 17 years translating the Old and New Testaments into his native Vietnamese. He is the second person ever to accomplish such a task.
"It's such a blessing that someone like Mr. Pham took 17 years of his life for the people in Vietnam to know God's Word," said Fort Smith resident Natalie Nelson, whose youngest son was adopted from a Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam orphanage as a toddler.
Pham arrived in the United States in 1975 aboard a stolen Lockheed-built C-130 transport plane. Pham told the Times Record Online that in 1994, he felt God led him to translate the New Testament into his native tongue.
"Some nights I stay up till 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning," Pham, who teaches a Vietnam Bible study and has taught Sunday school, told the Times. "When you enjoy doing that type of thing, you don't need to go to bed."
His translation is written in everyday Vietnamese, so it's easier to understand than the previous translation that was written more than a hundred years ago.
"The last translation written for the scholars would leave out 98 percent of the population," he explained.
The communist Vietnamese government has agreed to the distribution of 100,000 of the new translated Bibles.