April 18, 2003
Charlottesville, VA (Christian Aid) -- Vietnamese authorities continue their clampdown on house churches in their country. A Vietnam observer who wishes to remain anonymous names 12 ways authorities are persecuting Christians:
1. People are fined for converting to Christ, or for seeking to convert someone else (witnessing).
2. Christians are bypassed in the distribution of government rice. They are told they must renounce their faith if they want to get state rice.
3. If a family becomes Christian, its electricity is cut off.
4. Christians are watched. In some places, they are barred from visiting other Christians or from having home meetings. In many places police try to strike fear into Christians to keep them from meeting together.
5. Authorities seize and destroy Bibles and hymnals.
6. Hundreds of churches have been confiscated or torn down. In Dac Lac Province, there used to be 417 churches. All but two have been shut down.
7. Authorities are aggressively going after pastors and church leaders. About 70 are in prison, and many others are under house arrest. In some cases, both the pastor and wife are under house arrest so neither one can do anything for the ministry. Moreover, anyone who tries to visit them is also put under arrest.
8. Even if someone else steps forward to preach, local authorities will insist it's illegal to preach.
9. Authorities gassed Christian villages in the North in late December, killing several children, causing pregnant women to miscarry, sending several to the hospital, and rendering over 100 unconscious.
10. Authorities have burned down the homes of Christians in some villages to pressure them to renounce their faith.
11. Some Christian children are dismissed from school; other schools will not accept them.
12. Christians are labeled as criminals and treated worse than animals. They have been beaten, sometimes to death. In some cases they are prodded with electric cattle prods in their mouths and on other parts of their bodies until they can't control themselves. Then the authorities mock them and say, "Look at the crazy Christians."
The reason for the brutal activity, according to the observer, is that authorities saw how evangelicals boasted they were partly responsible for the overthrow of some governments in Eastern Europe, and Vietnam authorities fear evangelicals will do the same in Vietnam if given the chance. Also, Vietnamese authorities equate being a Christian with being an American, and America is their number one enemy. Therefore, to be a Christian by definition is to be pro-American, which is treason.
Pray that God will act sovereignly against the oppressors of His people in Vietnam, and that authorities in other nations will hold Vietnam accountable for its human rights violations. At the same time, we are to "pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44).