Christians in Vietnam face oppressive, often brutal, persecution from authorities. Despite official measures to kill Christianity, the church of Jesus Christ continues to grow.
In February, 2001, the government of Vietnam made an agreement with believers which was supposed to signal a warmer attitude towards believers. Instead authorities have stepped up persecution.
Reports reaching Christian Aid signify the following strategies of Vietnamese officials against Christians:
1. Making them return to ancestral worship by forcing them to drink wine mixed with blood and requiring them to erect pagan altars in their homes.
2. Forcing believers to participate in animistic rituals.
3. Assigning soldiers to live in the homes of believers, in order to control Christian activity. The Christian families are forced to feed their assigned live-in soldier and to provide alcohol for him.
4. Officials are fearful of accusing believers for their faith so they find other charges. The current rage is to charge Christian leaders with polluting the environment.
5. Nine months ago, the police ordered 30 families to deny their faith. When they refused, the police forced them to live under trees, and did not permit them to live in their homes. Then they took four of their wives and daily raped them. Then the believers, including the children and old people, were tied to trees and beaten.
Some Christians have responded by fleeing. Some in the North have fled to friendlier areas in central Vietnam. Others have fled to the jungles and caves. On the other hand, those who have fled to Cambodia are being returned to Vietnamese authorities. There are 25 Hmong leaders in prison in the northern part of Vietnam.
These reports from Vietnamese missionaries give insight into the joys and hardships of work on a difficult mission field:
Believers ordered to drink wine mixed with blood
A missionary testifies: I established a new church in 1999. At the beginning there were only 20 believers; now there are 167. The road from my house to the church meeting place is a mountain pass and the church hall is 25 km (15 miles) away. Although it is often raining and the road is muddy, every week I walk by foot to the church to lead the believers in studying the Bible and to witness to unbelievers. In addition, I often work in the fields with unbelievers to share the gospel with them.
By the mercy of God, every day more people are added to our church. Therefore, officials began to prohibit us from gathering together to worship God. So I divided the believers into small groups of about 2-3 families each. Government representatives said, "Christianity is against the government; whoever follows Christianity must deny it."
They forced us to drink wine mixed with blood and swear to be faithful to their culture. They said that whoever does not drink wine mixed with blood is against the government and their own people. Thank God, the believers decided not to drink that stuff and to remain faithful to God's teachings.
Bicycle proves indispensable
Another missionary writes: With my heart burning for the work of God, I established a new church in 1998. I served God with all my heart regardless of many difficulties and persecution waiting for me. Although I've had a serious illness, I have tried to overcome it so I can bring the gospel to as many people as possible.
In my area, transportation is very difficult. Since I have a bicycle, I was able to take the film of the life of Jesus Christ to many people at wedding parties, funeral services, etc. I am very glad for my bicycle because from my house to other believers' houses is about 13 km (eight miles). The road is very steep, rough and rocky. However, I never neglect to visit my believers. Many times, I had to face the persecution of policemen.
To get close to unbelievers, I came to their houses and worked with them in their fields. In this way, I shared the gospel with them and brought 60 people to Christ since 2001.
Missionary working among the Jerai tribe:
I established a new church in 1999. At first there were only four believers; now there are 159. Officials asked them why they believed in Christ. They answered that since they believed in Christ, their lives have changed! They no longer gamble, get drunk, or steal. The light of Christianity came upon them and changed their lives. Now they are good citizens, and never violate any rules of the government.
The officials warned me not to bring the gospel to the unbelievers. They said they would arrest me if I continued to do so. However, I have decided to obey God rather than obey them. I keep sharing the gospel with many people.
Missionary working among the E De tribe:
During the time I have been serving God, I have been faced with many difficulties and have been persecuted by authorities. One time the police put their guns to my head and threatened to kill me. They also threatened to throw me in jail if I kept sharing the gospel. They watched me very carefully and told the people in the village, "Don't listen to him. His religion is an American one; it's reactionary. Whoever believes his teachings will be considered a traitor. The government will not give help to anyone who follows Christianity."
One of my church members is a very poor woman. The authorities called her in and asked her to deny God. If she did so, they said they would give her 2,500,000 dongs (around $166). She said she would not deny God but would follow Him for the rest of her life.