“Love (Your City)”
By Jacob Bloemberg

Summary of Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Love Hanoi – The Journey

Bloemberg discusses how HIF wrestled with the question: How can an international church
possibly be missional in a context such as ours? After seven years, in 2012 at a church retreat,
a member of the church council suggested, “Let’s start Love Hanoi.” That is what the council
reported as its vision to the congregation. The next question was, “How do we love Hanoi?”
To encourage the congregation, Bloemberg delivered a sermon series called, Love Hanoi:
Inspired by Nehemiah. A member of the Jewish exile community in Persia, Nehemiah was an
official in the king’s court. When he learned that Jersualem’s wall was in ruins, he asked God’s
guidance and eventually received permission from the King to rebuild the wall. He completed
the task in 52 days, and went back to Persia. Several years later, he returned to Jerusalem to
lead legal and social reforms.

Inspired by these sermons, HIF developed a logo and promoted a brand that led to an invitation
from the Hanoi International Women’s Club to participate in the annual Christmas charity
bazaar. HIF already had a local mission ministry called City Partners that worked with NGOs,
both Christian and non-Christian. With City Partners, HIF began activities that would show how
it loved Hanoi. It also built relationships with the Vietnamese government officials who oversee
religious groups. HIF always asked the question, how can we love Hanoi? One of these
officials, the chief of Hanoi police, eventually became mayor of Hanoi. Although HIF never
received an official permit to operate, officials eventually said that Vietnamese could attend its

Beginning in 2015, HIF and City Partners organized a series of conferences and celebrations
that brought together many different groups in Hanoi. The conferences were not religious and
were designed to build relationships with NGOs and international organizations such as UN
Habitat. Other events involved HIF in the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Hanoi
Evangelical Church and the evangelical community in Vietnam in 2016.

In 2018, HIF joined Hanoi churches and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to celebrate
the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The organizing community decided to call the
celebration Love Hanoi Festival. It included a Love in Action committee that organized 17
projects with 3600 participants. A roundtable for scholars on the history and development of the
evangelical faith, hosted by Hanoi Bible College, gave Vietnamese professors a reason to have
more contacts with Christians. The final events of the festival were not held at the National
Stadium as hoped but at a smaller venue. Even so, 19-20,000 people attended each evening,
and over 14,000 accepted Christ as their savior.

Bloemberg exclaims, “The Festival might be over, but Jesus still loves Hanoi!” At the final
meeting of the organizing committee, he presented a report on the Love in Action survey for
church leaders and BGEA staff. The survey showed that 71 percent of churches served their
communities and had helped 10,000 people in 2016. “It was impressive,” he writes, “how much
the evangelical community in Hanoi already contributes to their communities.”

*Next chapter: Chapter 2: Love Hanoi – The Context