Vietnamese Pastor’s Remarkable Story of Survival and Resistance

In a captivating account of his life, Pastor Y Hin Nie shares his incredible journey of survival during the Vietnam War. From preaching the gospel in the comfort of his North Carolina church today, to living in the jungles, fighting Vietnamese troops, and negotiating freedom for his “forgotten army,” Hin Nie’s story sheds light on the resilience and determination of the human spirit.

The story begins with Hin Nie’s childhood in Vietnam, where he was left with American missionaries by his parents who wished for him to have a better life. He survived the Tet Offensive in 1968 and witnessed the death of his godmother during the attack. Despite these tragedies, he continued his education, joined Bible school, and worked at a church. It wasn’t until the decisive battle in 1975 that Hin Nie joined the war, fighting alongside the United Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races (Fulro) – an insurgent movement advocating autonomy for ethnic minorities.

For nearly two decades, Hin Nie and his fellow fighters evaded the Vietnamese army, constantly on the run and in hiding. They survived by foraging for food, hunting for tiger skins to pay the Khmer Rouge, and moving from one jungle clearing to another. Hin Nie carried an AK-47 for self-defense but was primarily focused on his role as a religious leader within the group. He held sermons and celebrated religious holidays, fostering a sense of hope and community among his comrades.

The group’s journey took a dangerous turn when they had to flee to Cambodia to escape the expanding Vietnamese operations. In Cambodia, they faced new threats from the remnants of Pol Pot’s genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. Despite the risks, Hin Nie negotiated with Khmer Rouge commanders and managed to secure their stay, although they had to pay taxes in the form of tiger skins and other resources.

Life in the jungle was arduous, with the fighters surviving on whatever they could find, including leaves from trees. Hin Nie married his wife H Biuh, and together they had three children, one of whom tragically died. Throughout their time in the jungle, religion remained a constant source of strength and comfort. Hin Nie would erect a cross upon their arrival at a new location and hold sermons for the soldiers and their families.

In 1992, Hin Nie’s perseverance and leadership caught the attention of UN officials who had arrived to administer the Cambodian national election as part of a peacekeeping mission. Negotiations ensued, and the Fulro fighters finally gained recognition from the outside world. American journalist Nate Thayer further publicized their story, leading to a wave of support and the Fulro fighters being granted asylum in the United States.

Today, Hin Nie continues to advocate for his people and speak out against the persecution faced by the Montagnard ethnic minorities in Vietnam. However, he remains a target in Vietnamese state media, with the government accusing him of leading a subversive organization. Despite these challenges, Hin Nie stands resilient, preaching in multiple languages at his church in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Hin Nie’s incredible story serves as a testament to the indomitable spirit of individuals facing adversity. It sheds light on the often-forgotten stories of those who fought and survived in the periphery of major conflicts. His journey reminds us of the importance of resilience, faith, and the power of community in the face of unimaginable hardships.