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In 1979, Vinh Chung’s family was rescued by an Operation Seasweep ship operated by World Vision.  World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice. Working in nearly 100 countries around the world, World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.

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Vinh Chung was born in South Vietnam, just eight months after it fell to the communists in 1975. His family was wealthy, controlling a rice-milling empire worth millions; but within months of the communist takeover, the Chungs lost everything and were reduced to abject poverty.

Knowing that their children would have no future under the new government, the Chungs decided to flee the country. In 1979, they joined the legendary “boat people” and sailed into the South China Sea, despite knowing that an estimated two hundred thousand of their countrymen had already perished at the hands of brutal pirates and violent seas.

After several weeks at sea Chung’s family lay half-dead from dehydration in a derelict fishing boat jammed with ninety-three refugees. Finally, the Chung family was rescued by a World Vision Operation Seasweep ship, that was scouring the waters of the South China Sea to help stranded refugees.

The Chungs were taken to the United States with nothing but the clothes on their backs and unable to speak a single word of English. After arriving in the U.S., they were relocated to Ft. Smith, Arkansas. There, Vinh struggled against poverty, discrimination, and a bewildering language barrier—yet still managed to graduate from Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Chung studied at the University of Sydney as a Fulbright Scholar and completed a master of pharmaceutical sciences. He also holds a master of theology from the University of Edinburgh. Dr. Chung currently serves on the board for World Vision U.S. He and his wife, Leisle, have four children. They run a successful private medical practice in Colorado Springs, CO.


About Tim Downs

Tim Downs is the author of nine novels, including the Christy Award–winning PlagueMaker and the highly acclaimed series of Bug Man novels. Tim lives in North Carolina with his wife, Joy. They have three grown children.

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“To say it’s remarkable, and delightfully written, is understatement: it’s an emotionally gripping story at a rare level of fascinating detail, much of it about events decades old.”

“Vinh’s book is the story of the incredible potential locked inside one refugee child. But it’s also the story of every child in the world who is poor, forgotten, and abused, a refugee. It’s a story that shows there is no such thing as a throwaway child.”

“Chung’s remarkable memoir tells of perils aboard the South China Sea, rescue by a World Vision Mercy Ship, and resettlement in Arkansas — where, despite hard conditions, he would come to Christian faith and begin climbing an educational ladder that would lead to Harvard University and Harvard Medical School.”

“It’s a story both sides of the aisle should applaud. It’s how America is supposed to work — and still does work, all appearances to the contrary.”

“Where the Wind Leads is the incredible story of Vinh Chung and his family of ten as they fled communist Vietnam for a better life in America. The story is riveting, heart-breaking, and ultimately inspiring in its tale of hope, perseverance and rescue.”

“…this is a riveting story that covers everything from surviving visits from machete-carrying Khmer Rouge guerrillas to burning stacks of devalued money to keep warm.”


Where the Wind Leads is a story that spans two continents, ten decades, and eleven thousand miles. The book follows Vinh Chung and his family on their desperate journey from pre-war Vietnam, through pirate attacks on a lawless sea, to a miraculous rescue and a new home in the unlikely town of Fort Smith, Arkansas. It’s a story of personal sacrifice, redemption, endurance against almost insurmountable odds, and what it truly means to be American.

Where the Wind Leads is Vinh’s tribute to the courage and sacrifice of his parents, a testimony to his family’s faith, and a reminder to people everywhere that the American dream, while still possible, carries with it a greater responsibility.


Thomas Nelson

All author royalties from the sale of this book will go to benefit World Vision.

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