Immigrant Faith Stories: Season 1, Episode 2
In this episode of Immigrant Faith Stories, I spoke with Hahn Shols, a Vietnamese American who fled Vietnam just before Saigon fell in 1975. She was only twelve years old when she left home with her parents and five siblings.
None of them spoke English except for Hahn’s father who was fluent in eight languages. Hahn struggled in school, facing racism from students who asked her, “What does dog meat taste like?” Though she loved to learn and study, she hated school.
Here’s where the story took a turn.
The kindness of a teacher changed Hahn’s refugee experience.
Mrs. Nancy Randall took the twelve-year-old under her wing, not only teaching her English and helping her cope with school, but also showing her unconditional love by inviting Hahn into her home. Determined to learn the language and do better in school, Hahn worked hard, studying until the wee hours of morning. She won the school’s spelling bee contest in seventh grade!
Throughout school and college and into her twenties, Hahn had a somewhat rocky relationship with Jesus, until both she and her husband, Chris, encountered God in a miraculous way. Together, they surrendered their lives to Christ.
Hahn and Chris have been married for 31 years now and live with their adult daughters, Erika and Rebeka, in Silicon Valley, CA.
Hahn’s story reminded me that God is in control of our lives and His steadfast love follows us no matter where we go or how badly we mess up.
Her testimony also demonstrates the power of one…one individual (her teacher) can make a difference by sincerely loving others, especially foreigners, or those who are broken, oppressed, or neglected.