Phonh Sinbondit and his family were living in Laos when communists took over the country in the late 1970s.
Considered a possible subversive, Sinbondit was arrested and sent to a concentration camp. He spent more than two years in the camp, watching as dozens of other men were tortured and executed.
Even in the most difficult moments of his captivity, God was present, Sinbondit says. “I was a Buddhist at that time, but I still saw God’s mercy, even in the darkest days. I just didn’t know what I was seeing.”
After his release from the camp, Sinbondit and his family lived in a refugee camp for a year before emigrating to the United States under a sponsorship from the Mennonite Church.
“The gentleness and caring of our sponsors touched us deeply,” he remarks. “Eventually, we became Christians and, since I knew several Asian languages, we began working with other Asian refugees to share the good news of Christ.”
Today Sinbondit leads New Life Church, a Home Missions-funded Christian Reformed congregation in New Brighton, Minn. He previously helped to establish a Laotian CRC in Holland, Mich. Following God’s call, he moved to Minneapolis, where Faith CRC was starting a new church to minister to the city’s growing Asian community.
New Life is focused on building relationships with its multiethnic neighbors. Its programs and services bring God’s love to families and communities, providing for some of the unique needs of refugees such as ESL tutoring, transportation and translation services, and offering opportunities for spiritual growth.
“Displaced persons need special prayers and support,” Sinbondit says. “They also need to know they have a place in God’s heart. By his grace, we’re here to provide that.”