Vietnam restaurant owners visit hereBy Brittney Knox Published 6:42pm Monday, October 29, 2012
Small flags from various travels across the world lie on Church Aflame pastor Mickey Green’s desk.
However, the story behind the flag from Vietnam holds an extra special place in his heart.
About 30 years ago when Green pastored a church in Mississippi, Bob and Kathleen Huff entered his life as part of that congregation.
From that first encounter to now, the Huffs have since impacted the lives of several deaf Vietnamese young adults granting them sign language training and employment in their restaurant Bread of Life. Recently, the Huffs visited Green as well as the Church Aflame congregation.
Bread of Life located in Da Nang, Vietnam is a non-profit restaurant the Huffs began in Vietnam in 2005 to provide the deaf with opportunities, training and employment. Though the restaurant began as a bakery and coffeehouse, it has expanded its menu to include Western food such as hamburgers, pasta, pizza and more.
“We have known Mickey Green for about 30 years after meeting him in Mississippi and since then we have kept a close relationship with him,” Bob Huff said. “We work closely with Church Aflame to handle our business here in the states.”
The Huffs both attribute their efforts to work with the deaf in Vietnam as a spiritual desire they both felt 15 years ago when they first decided to go abroad.
Kathleen said the two both accepted Christ at the same time and a while after they both felt compelled to go abroad.
“We worked with a different project for about five years in central Vietnam working with people that had all different types of disabilities,” she said.
Through that work the Huffs both noticed they each had a heart for those who were unable to hear and lacking the knowledge of sign language to effectively communicate.
“We knew that if we could teach them sign language, then they could communicate and it could change their lives…and it is working,” Kathleen said.
The Huffs employ a staff of 26 at Bread of Life, 19 of which are deaf and some of the other skills they aid with include vocational, life skills and English classes. Dormitories are also provided for the employees.
Alongside working in the restaurant, the Huffs are able to teach sign language in an area of Vietnam where it is uncommon for the deaf to learn this method of communication.
“I remember talking to a lady who had a deaf son and asking her did she want to learn sign language. She was excited to learn about sign language because before that, she had no idea about it. Tears just came down her face because now she would have a way to communicate with her son,” Kathleen recalled.
Church Aflame serves as a home church for the Huffs when they return to the states as a place for not only handling finances and mailings, but also as a place for worship.
“When they come they stay with me and our church fully supports them,” Green said. “I have been to see what they are doing over there about three times now and it is truly amazing.”
The Huffs hope to return to Church Aflame again within the next year.