Vu Tran: Beyond the Veil of Lies
By Dory Nissen
The 700 Club
Vu Tran vividly remembers the mysterious shrine in the center of his childhood home.
“My grandfather was an idol worshipper. He would worship his ancestors and set up altars in his home to worship the dead,” Vu said. “That’s what I saw as religion, is praying to dead people.”
Vu found the worship of the dead disquieting. The idols didn’t make his family happy.
The idols didn’t feel the emptiness that he felt inside. So, Vu looked to the streets for love and acceptance. The black sheep in his family were already there.
“My uncles were my role models, going in and out of jail, and living that fast life that I saw that was appealing to me,” Vu said, “to be involved in crime and fast money. The gang members were the ones with all the power and that no one messed with them. I was kind of like the mastermind, always the one that was plotting evil.”
“I got close to jail, being caught with possession of firearms that were believed to be part of a robbery,” Vu said. “But, I’ve always had a smooth alibi."
Vu controlled his gang by devising ingenious crimes. His smooth alibis foiled the police. But there was something in his life that Vu couldn’t control.
“I had this haunting fear of dying and death. It was around the corner for me. When I was sober, the few occasions that I was sober, I would feel so empty and depressed and lonely,” Vu said. “I knew that this lifestyle would result either in me dying on the streets or spending the rest of my life in prison.”
There was another reason for Vu’s morbidity. A fellow gang member went on a shooting rampage that killed several people. Vu began to reflect on his own life.
“I realized that I was in the same gang, influenced in the same way and that same anger and bitterness that he had in his heart was also in mine,” Vu said. “I saw that, and that kind of woke me up to the reality that I might be the one out there shooting people. I was spiritually darkened; but at the same time, I was also spiritually hungry for truth and knowing that there has to be more to life than what I’ve been experiencing to this point.”
Vu’s first Christian influence came from a television program. He was channel surfing one day and found The 700 Club.
“I saw The 700 Club and I began to listen, and I began to hear the truth coming across,” Vu said. “I began to look and examine who this Jesus is that they were talking about. I began to hear the truth of God’s benevolence, his goodness, and he wanted the best for my life. This message of hope was a hope that was beyond understanding. How can a God love a sinner such as myself and a gang member that had done so much evil?”
It wasn’t long before Vu was ready to accept a friend’s invitation to church.
“On that day that I went to church, I realized that God had given me a choice between life and death,” Vu said. “If I continue the way that I’m going, to live without repenting, I’m going to end up in jail or dead on the street somewhere. So, he gave the altar call at the end of his message. I know it was the spirit of God was dealing with me, and I lifted up my hands and I prayed, ‘Jesus, if you are real, then change my life.’”
Vu said he chose “life” that day, but there were still temptations to overcome.
“I started feeling conviction. I couldn’t go back and do drugs anymore. I couldn’t go back and party and live that illicit lifestyle I did anymore without feeling the conviction that God is not pleased,” Vu said. “I think one of the hard lessons that I had to learn was forgiveness. I had a lot of hatred in my heart and God brought me through a lot of circumstances to change me."
Vu is married with a young daughter today. He’s a prosperous business owner who is more likely to earn a good citizenship award than a place on law enforcement’s most wanted.
“I don’t know where to start - as far as the joy in my life now that I have in Him and the peace that I have knowing that I’m right with God; and that He’s given me a purpose and a hope,” Vu said. “God can touch anyone and change anyone regardless of what you’ve done. All you have to do is come to Him. That’s the thing about God, is that His grace is able to change the hardest heart, and that’s what I have seen in my life.”Can God change your life?
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