Suffolk gathers for prayer

Published 6:15 pm Thursday, May 6, 2021

The National Day of Prayer is celebrated on the first Thursday of May each year and has been observed since 1952. On this morning in Suffolk, leaders gather for breakfast for prayer and fellowship at the Liberty Center at Christ First Church on Romans Road.

Along with prayer, the breakfast usually consists of encouragement, a notable guest speaker and a musical guest. 

The guest speaker for this event was Henry Fahman, also known as Hien Pham. Fahman lived in Vietnam as a Buddhist during the Vietnam War. He was given a Bible by some American soldiers and after seeking a pastor with some questions, Fahman accepted Christ as his savior. 


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Once his country fell to Communism, Fahman was arrested under the accusation of aiding and abetting Americans as well as for his faith. While incarcerated, he doubted God because nothing happened, whether he prayed or not. While cleaning the latrines of the prison, he found some toilet paper with English writing on it. That night while his roommates slept, he read what turned out to be a page ripped out of the Bible containing Romans 8.

“It could have been any other excerpt of the Bible, but no, this is what He wanted for me,” said Fahman. “Somebody else’s toilet paper can be another person’s bail bond for the incarcerated soul.” 

After that, Fahman never doubted God, even as he was released and arrested a second time. He continued to clean the latrines and find new passages to study. Just like Joseph in Genesis 39, Fahman found favor in the guards’ eyes during both sentences. 

“This time, even though I was in prison … I did not lose faith in God anymore,” said Fahman.

God provided an escape for Fahman and 53 others trying to flee Vietnam. Four men confronted them while they were getting a boat ready in the water in the middle of the night. After trusting that God’s will would be done, he told the men the truth. These men escaped with them, and their previous experience from being fisherman helped get the boat safely through terrible storms to Thailand.

Today, Fahman is an American citizen and businessman who graduated magna cum laude from the University of California in Berkeley as well as Harvard and Stanford. 

“Over the years, I have learned a few very important lessons and principles in life that I believe are worth sharing with our young people back there, because you have a long future before you with many opportunities and possibilities,” said Fahman, indicating student leaders present from the city’s five high schools.

His lessons were to have the right kind of attitude, dream and plan for the future, be humble, to be patient and remember God is in control.

The breakfast welcomed the guest singer, Todd Suttles, who is part of the Gaither Vocal Band. During the opening song, “It is Well,” he not only invited the attendees to join him but got down from the stage to be closer to them.

Mike Duman, at his first breakfast as mayor, gave a welcome and encouraged everyone to stay vigilant in prayer for the branches of government and elections.

“Thank you for attending this morning and God bless you all and God bless America,” he said in closing. 

During the Scripture reading of parts of John 6 and other parts of the gospels, Sen. John Cosgrove, Sen. Louis Lucas, Delegate Emily Brewer, Delegate Clinton Jenkins and Chris Rice of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce took turns reading verses as different characters in the text. Actors even portrayed Jesus and the Centurion in Matthew 8 and Jesus in multiple other teachings of the Bible. 

Guests were invited to lead a prayer over a specific area. Dr. William Jackson, a physician with Sentara Family Medicine who has been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, opened the breakfast in prayer as he previously did in the 2020 virtual day of prayer. 

Jason Padgett daily leads a prayer for the nation on his radio show on BBN Radio. He led a prayer for families, the city, state, country and nation. 

“May none of us present miss the significance of this opportunity, we who are so undeserving to be able to petition the Almighty God of the universe on behalf of our nation,” he prayed. “We do so humbly, but we do so boldly.” 

Derek Gaskill, the owner of Derek Gaskill Pro Baseball Training and a Major League Baseball pitcher for 14 years, closed the meeting in prayer. His theme was freedom, and he had the crowd repeat the word after him. “Lord, thank you so much for the freedom you have given us,”  he prayed. “Thank you especially for the freedom from sin, from all our junk, Lord. And that we’re free to live a great life and do the best we can for you.”