Even at 70, Peggy Burke is still doing firsts. In October 2006, she was the first American Baptist to serve as a volunteer in the communist country of Vietnam. Burke spent six months working to help persons in an English-speaking club develop their language skills. And she was well aware of the historic hostilities, which resulted in the war between her country and Vietnam. But she saw her mission as divinely appointed.
"I considered very carefully [America's] history with Vietnam," Burke said. "I felt it was a call to peacemaking. I was not sure about how I would be received in a communist country. I went with the intent to build and develop authentic, loving relationships and I was received by a fast growing Christian people."
Area director, Rev. Stan Murray, commented, "It's exciting to see Peggy's love for the people for her Lord. She is getting us off to a great start!" Burke jokes about how she rode a motorcycle most places because of the narrow streets or off-road conditions. A woman was her faithful driver. And though the driver spoke no English and she spoke no Vietnamese, the pair soon began communicating with hand signals.
Burke, a former IM board member who has traveled to Thailand, Japan, India and South Africa with the agency, said she saw a people who are still working to overcome the years of war and various social and economic challenges. But she also saw a faith in the Lord, which she believes has given the people an overcoming spirit.
"I enjoyed the open and welcoming, committed way the Christians have received God's redemptive love and how eager they are to share and grow the church. They demonstrated the victory that faith delivers over pain and suffering."