Khoung Rolan was born in a small Montagnard village in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. His grandfather was a general in the Vietnamese army, and his father worked in the communist government.
Khoung Rolan, right, or Kyle as he is known in the United States, wants he and his wife, Jenny, to be the first Montagnard missionaries sent from North Carolina. They hope to garner support from churches and individuals to help them on their journey to the Philippines. First Baptist Church in Matthews plans to provide some of the funds.
Through the witness of a cousin, Rolan and two of his sisters became Christians. Their parents did not agree with the children’s decision to follow Christ. Communist leaders made life hard for Christians, but the young boy and his sisters prayed that their parents would also follow Christ.
One of the sisters became very sick, unable to eat or drink for three days. In desperation, Rolan’s father asked if the elders of the Christian church would come to his home and pray for the girl. The father said, “If your God is real, and He can heal my daughter, I will accept Christ, follow your God and leave my job.”
The church leaders went to the girl’s bedside and prayed for hours. “About midnight my sister got up and asked for food,” Rolan said. “My father and my mom received Christ after that.”
The family began to face persecution from the communist government. Following Christ changed many relationships in communist-ruled Vietnam.
In his late teen years, Rolan rebelled and turned to gang life, indulging in a life of crime as a gang leader. He was charged with criminal assault and given a seven-year prison sentence.
Rolan said God got his attention in prison. He repented and cried out to God saying, “I will serve you all of my life if you will get me out of the prison.”
After serving only 10 days of the seven-year sentence, he was mysteriously released and told to leave. He fled to Cambodia where Rolan lived in a refugee camp for eight months.
In 2005, a United Nations refugee resettlement organization placed Rolan in Charlotte. He changed his name from the Montagnard “Khoung” to a more American name, “Kyle.” He was able to help his father and mother escape persecution in Vietnam and immigrate to the United States.
In Charlotte, Rolan met Jenny, a Vietnamese woman who had fled the country with her family five years earlier. One year later they were married.
Jenny grew up in a Christian family in Vietnam. Her father was an interpreter for the American Army during the Vietnam war, and was imprisoned at the end the war. Her family of six fled the country through an immigration program for those who assisted Americans during the war and whose safety was at risk.
Kyle and Jenny began to meet with other Montagnard Christian families for fellowship and Bible study in the Charlotte area.
In 2012, Pastor K’Them, the Montagnard Baptist ministry coordinator for North Carolina, invited Rolan to attend a weekly Bible study class in Greensboro. Hungry to be discipled, Rolan accepted and drove to Greensboro every Saturday for two years. “Many times, my wife drove the car since I worked late the night before,” he said.
“The big turning point in my life was in late 2014 when we came to First Baptist Church (FBC) in Matthews. Since then, Pastor Brad has been coaching me, and the godly men in the church have been training me so I [can] understand [the Bible] better.”
Brad Sallee, missions pastor at FBC, said, “From the very beginning, I’ve seen the call and the hunger in Kyle’s life. He has quite a story … it seems to me that God has had His hand on Kyle from the beginning of that journey.”
FBC has involved Rolan in mission trips to Asia. In 2014, he went back to Cambodia. Last year, he served with a team that traveled to the Philippines. The church has been planting churches in the Philippines for 10 years and now has nine house churches meeting regularly.
The experience has been life changing for Rolan. The team saw 175 people accept Christ as Savior last year. “When I was there, I saw the power of the Holy Spirit work through me,” he said. “It is amazing that God can use us and bring other people to Him.”
This year another mission trip to the Philippines resulted in 800 decisions for salvation and two new church plants.
“When I got back, I knew God had put something in my heart,” Rolan explained. “I prayed about it a couple of months and talked to my wife. I said, do you want to move to the Philippines? She said, ‘Yes, no problem, if the Lord wants us to go there, we will go.’”
The Rolans plan to relocate to the Philippines next June as the first Montagnard missionaries sent from North Carolina.
The missions council and the pastor of FBC are “fully supportive of Kyle and Jenny going as one of the church-supported missionaries,” Sallee said. “He meets all of the criteria for approval. At this point First Baptist Matthews is the only organization supporting Kyle.” They hope more churches and individuals will add their support for the couple.
Rolan is a project supervisor for a company that remodels stores for a large supermarket chain.
His boss is a Christian who supports his mission trips and the decision to serve in the Philippines.
On weekends Rolan leads a Montagnard Bible study group and worship service at FBC. The group has almost 20 adults each week, with more than 60 joining them Easter Sunday. Their ultimate goal is to prepare church leaders to take the gospel back to their Asian countries, he said.
Jenny has been a full-time housewife and part time interpreter for those who speak Jarai, the native Montagnard dialect of the Vietnamese language. She translates primarily at hospitals and medical clinics.
She fully supports the move to the Philippines.
“Our generation is too comfortable and doesn’t want to go to the hard places,” Jenny said. “We need to do something to share the gospel in other countries.”
After reading a book by David Platt and another book by a man who served as a missionary to Vietnam before the war, Jenny said her call to missions was strengthened.
“It really inspired me,” she said. “This missionary went to a place that was really strange to him and not many people welcomed him, but he wanted to share the gospel with people who had never heard the Good News about Jesus.”
Sallee said Rolan has participated in FBC’s discipleship groups including a deacon-led small group.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with Kyle, and there is no question that he is committed to the Lord,” he said.
“Kyle has been discipling a Montagnard small group. I’ve never met anybody that seems to love the Lord Jesus more than he does. He is so hungry to learn and to grow spiritually.”
Although the Rolans do not have a connection with a mission organization, FBC Matthews will provide some support for the couple and their children when they leave next year. A seminary in the Philippines has offered Rolan some work, also. They are praying for additional financial backing.
“Kyle Rolan has a heart that burns to take the gospel to the nations,” said Clay Smith, senior pastor of FBC Matthews. “He has been an integral part of our church’s present mission in Charlotte and I look forward to seeing how God uses him to expand the Kingdom in the future.”