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AlumNews: Eagles in the News

Couple helped carry Gospel abroad

Tuesday, October 30, 2007  
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The following article and book review appeared on October 21, 2007 in the Daily Oklahoman Newspaper about the book, "Vietnam Triumphs and Tragedies: Our Mission" written by retired OC faculty member, Ralph Burcham:

By Dennie Hall
The Oklahoman

"Family to Teach Word of God in Vietnam.”

That headline appeared in the May 28, 1966, edition of the Oklahoma City Times over a story about an Oklahoma City family's plans to leave that August for mission work in war-torn Vietnam.

Ralph and Gladys Burcham left the security of Oklahoma Christian College (now Oklahoma Christian University) for a life far different than anything they had experienced. Now, four decades later, they have told their story in a new book, "Vietnam Triumphs and Tragedies: Our Mission” (Xulon Press, $19.99).

Ralph Burcham, who taught business education classes at Oklahoma Christian from 1958-92, said he and his wife served as missionaries on and off from 1966-75. Supported in the work by Church of Christ congregations, they arrived in Saigon on a hot summer day and looked at the masses of people in the streets "from beggars rummaging for money, while others had the appearance of material prosperity; but I felt all had to be searching for the real meaning of life. I prayed for God to use me in bringing hope and love to those seeking a better way of life.”

Amid the firing of weapons and the horrors of war, the Burchams and their two children, Roger and Kathy, went about making a temporary home. Shelling often disturbed the night. Through it all, the family mingled with American servicemen, other missionaries and with the children they taught in the international school. They learned much about the culture of Vietnam and, no doubt, taught the people of that country about the United States.

Ralph Burcham, looking back over his experiences of teaching and preaching in Saigon, says he can see that God was at work there.

"Everyone seemed to be searching for meaning to life and longing for some assurance of what lies beyond the grave,” he writes.

The book is a heartfelt account of mission life and motivation. The descriptions of people and places are fascinating and certain to pull the reader through its 359 pages.

The book is available at the Gaylord Student Center Bookstore at Oklahoma Christian University, Best of Books in Edmond and via Borders and Barnes & Noble Web sites. Ralph and Gladys will also be at OC for a book signing on Saturday, November 10 during the OCWA Flapjack Troughfeed at 8 a.m. that morning.

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