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The Making of a Believer

Table of contents and chapter outline
Sample chapter
Maps of our escape/movement
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From the rice paddies of Viet Nam to the cornfields of Iowa

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Welcome to a website about my autobiography, The Making of a Believer.  This is a Vietnam War story about how God led my family and me to safety throughout the course of the war. 
The strengths of this biography include its portrayal of love, hope, and faith which binds a family together during a long and arduous journey towards freedom.  We finally achieve our goal, but it is fraught with hunger, fear, capture, and an uncertain future. 
Like many refugees who escaped by boat, we all have a unique story to share.  Many have heard stories from friends of escape and capture during the Vietnam War, but rarely has such a story been written down.  I invite you to experience first-hand what I experienced during this time. 
Included on this website you will find a taste of what The Making of a Believer is about. 
In 1943 I was born in a little village, surrounded by rice paddies, forty kilometers east of Saigon, South Viet Nam. Seven years later, during the French War, I was sent to be raised by my grandparents in Tan An village of Long An province. When the United States became involved in the conflict, I went to Saigon to pursue a college education in agronomy at the University of Saigon.

After the Tet Offensive in 1968, I joined the South Vietnamese Army as a first lieutenant and was stationed at the end of Ho Chi Minh Trail near the border of Laos. After three months in the frontlines, I was transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture. Then in March 1969 I became the manager of an agricultural research center in the province of Darlac in the Central Highlands. Two years later, I married the woman I dearly loved after a very unexpected reunion. On March 10, 1975 the North Vietnamese Communist Army made their final offensive to take over South Viet Nam. After my family and I were captured three times by the Communist Army, we made our final escape attempt to the United States, with God on our side, just a few hours before the fall of Saigon.

After our arrival in the United States, my family was sponsored by a church in Milaca, Minnesota. We adjusted easily to our new lives with our new church family. Soon after, I became a territory manager for Cargill Hybrid Seed, then a district manager for Midwest Seed Genetics. Now we reside in Oelwein, Iowa, and I am a district sales manager for AgVenture of Iowa.

After more than twenty-five years of living in the United States, I decided to write a memoir of my life story, beginning in the rice paddies near Tan An village. I hope that my memoir will help others find peace with themselves and with God and that it will help people to better understand how the Vietnam War affected my life and my family.


Since my family is such an important part of my life, I will take a moment to introduce them.  My wife, Thuy, is an accomplished heirloom quiltmaker.  For those who are interested in her works, please visit her website at  My eldest son, Thy, and his wife, Rebekah, live in Chicago.  He is the assistant director of students affairs at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.  My son, Thai, is a police officer in Iowa, and my daughter, Jennifer, is working towards her D.D.S. at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. 

Thoi V. Nguyen
Thoi V. Nguyen


Copyright 2004