Dr. Tran Thanh – a model of selfless giving

Dr. Tran Thanh has dedicated his life to serving poor Vietnamese communities.
Dr. Tran Thanh has dedicated his life to serving poor Vietnamese communities.

I don’t give enough.

That’s the hard truth I took away from a conversation I just had with Dr. Tran Thanh, a Cross partner who graciously traveled all the way from Vietnam to meet our ministry staff. Dr. Thanh and a group of Vietnamese Christians have been spearheading an effort to help neighbors with medical care, clean water, safe shelter and Christ’s love. He isn’t shy about asking the church to give more and more often for the sake of the Gospel, and he can do so with authority because he practices what he preaches.

Case in point – tithing. For many of us, it’s a real struggle to drop 10 percent of our income in the church offering plate. But that’s rookie stuff to Dr. Thanh, who has gradually increased his giving to an incredible 22 percent!

But he’s a doctor; he’s got income to spare – right?

Well, not exactly.

It’s true that medical jobs are highly sought after in Vietnam because of the potential for lucrative earnings, but while in school, Dr. Thanh made a radical decision. He didn’t want to be like other Vietnamese doctors who were earning large profits by burdening the poor with huge amounts of debt. Instead, moved by his new Christian faith, Dr. Thanh vowed he would never use his medical skills for the purpose of making money.

Since then, Dr. Thanh has spent his life serving the needs of the poor while having only a very small income for himself and his family. Not until several years ago did he finally consent – at the urging of his church – to receive a modest stipend for his work with SoMedCo – the community service arm of the Evangelical Church of Vietnam-South.

Dr. Thanh’s passion is to live like Jesus.  He’s intent on loving others and combining the message of eternal salvation with a concern for physical healing in the here-and-now.

It’s easy to come up with excuses not to give. But when you meet someone like Dr. Thanh, who takes “love your neighbor as yourself” to the next level, all those excuses melt away.

-Tony M.


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