Quiet persecution in Vietnam

By December 15, 2014
(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs, USA)

(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs, USA)

Vietnam (MNN/VOM) — Two Asian nations are among the top 20 on the Open Doors World Watch List (WWL), a ranking of 50 countries where persecution of Christians is the most severe. Guess which two?

If you said North Korea and Vietnam, you’d be right. North Korea has been the world’s worst persecutor of Christians for nearly a decade. Vietnam ranks 18th, far above China, which is 37th on the WWL.

Yet, with active harassment, oppression, and persecution of Christians within its borders, the prayer vigil for Vietnam’s body of Christ has seemingly gone silent. Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA, attributes some of that to improvements made on the human and religious rights fronts. “Over the last five years, we’ve seen them open up registration to additional churches. We’ve seen less persecution. We’ve seen some very large Christian meetings held in Hanoi.”

Still, he reminds us, “The reality is: there is persecution, and it is a Communist country. As we know in Communist countries, the issue for them, with regard to religion, is control.” Specifically, “When the Church says, ‘Our first loyalty is to Jesus Christ, not to the Communist Party, not to the Communist government,’ that makes them very uncomfortable and they respond with harassment and persecution to try to regain that control.”

Last year, Nettleton explains, Vietnam implemented a new government policy (ND-92 is a revision of the former, less-detailed ND-22). It’s more restrictive, providing the government with additional legal tools for control and repression. By impeding the day-to-day functioning of church groups with even tighter reporting, registration, and permission restrictions, there is the increased risk of diminishing the rapidly growing size and number of churches within its borders.

(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs USA)

(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs USA)

However, he goes on to note, “The Hmong tribe is among the significant ones that has had a great revival over the last 20 years. Tens of thousands of Hmong people have come to Christ. The government doesn’t trust them because they’re part of this minority tribal group, and then they don’t trust them even more because they’re Christians and they’re involved in church activity.”

A case in point: Ho Chi Minh City Bible School has often been the target of police activity in recent years. The Bible school leader, Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang, said last month the school was attacked and destroyed for the seventh time since June. Nettleton adds, “I think the initial intent is to send a message, but ultimately, they would like to shut them down. The government sees this Bible School as a threat.”

After large scale attacks in June, the water and electricity for the school were cut off, and in October, all roads to the school were barricaded. Why? Nettleton explains, “One of the things that pastor Quang is involved in is training the church leaders from some of the minority ethnic tribal groups across Vietnam, and then they go back to their villages to lead churches, to plant churches.”

(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs USA)

(Photo courtesy Voice of the Martyrs USA)

Even with the heavy intimidation, school leaders have continued to operate the school, and students continue to study faithfully, intent on their mission to share Christ throughout Vietnam. However, they wrestle with this: “How do we respond to these laws in a godly, Christ-like way, while still doing what we need to do spiritually–doing the things that God has called us to do, at the same time showing respect for (as the Bible says) those in authority over us?”

Harassment isn’t likely to go away. The new government policy continues to control, restrict, and penalize religious groups and their organized activities. Under Communist rule, Christians and their church leaders in Vietnam suffer harassment, arrest, and imprisonment, all under ambiguous charges of threats to national security, public order, unity, and national tradition.

What can you do? “We can pray for godly wisdom among those church leaders to help them know the best ways to help them do that,” says Nettleton. Pray that the faith of these Vietnamese believers will become more fervent despite the government’s attempts to implement further restrictions and repression, bringing forth greater blessings to the church as a whole.

9 Comments

  • Naw Hser Wah says:

    I will pray for that it is the which I can do but the most needee.

  • mary pham says:

    . If you wanted people to believe in your assessment of persecution in Vietnam, your facts must be accurate and focusing on what the Hmong minority’s troubling history with Vietnam won’t help at all: very small tribal group (less than 250,000) that was targeted by the CIA, during the Vietnam war as anti-insurgents guides, enforcers… materials/monetary largess, Christianity and propaganda widely, used to take advantage of their simple, basic, naive attitudes due to remote living environment. It was an intentionally, abusive relationship which turned out poorly, for these people when the Communist Vietnam dispelled the US: much resented even by the US ally South Vietnam, most Hmong already migrated to the US (over 150,000) used Christianity alliance to finance and promote continued resistance to the current government as a way to create political immigration. These Hmong people is once, again victimized by US based politics, except it’s now carried out by religious institutions like yours.
    . Communist or not, Vietnam has the 2nd largest Christian population in Asia with double digit annual increase since 1975. Even at 18% of population, Christians are the #1 organized religion in Vietnam as more than 2/3rd of Buddhists are cultural practitioners, not religious (15%). The Catholic Church appointed 2 Vietnamese cardinals and the Vatican has a permanent ambassador in Vietnam with no claim of religious persecution. Instead of repeating problems with Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang’s illegal church, tell him to apply for a permit like all others and learn from the Catholic church of how to grow in Vietnam.

  • I do not believe that about south Vietnam I have been there and know Vietnamese who are Christians there. It is regulated by the government but denominations like the Catholics AND Presbyterians have made some great inroads.

  • Why does the goverment see the bible school as a threat?

  • Dean says:

    Anthony,
    The communist governments, like all totalitarian governments always view Jews & Christians as a threat to their power because the Bible calls for first allegiance to the LORD and His son Jesus. Jews and early Christians were slaughtered first by the Greeks (Jews at that time) and by the Romans because our faithful fathers and mothers refused to worship the state as having the powers or as being deity. In the specific case of the communists (and more so our country on a daily basis) they feel threatened because they cannot ultimately control our every behavior. They also feel threatened because the Bible and those faithful to it are an ongoing reminder that they are not the ultimate authority. I hope this helps.

  • Jose Santoyo says:

    Yes I have a friend in Vietnam and would like to send her a Bible by mail but reading your article about Christians being prosecuted in Vietnam I am not sure if the police will come to my friends house or if she will even get the Bible? Thank you!

  • Ken Tran says:

    Mary,

    The facts are accurate, no one is bring history of the US or the Hmongs people involvement in a long gone war.

    Christian and Catholics are everyday being persecuted. Have a read of this one man band article called ‘ Vietnams’ God smuggler’.

    http://www.persecution.org/2015/08/07/vietnams-gods-smuggler-tells-of-amazing-miracle-journey-getting-bibles-to-unreached-people/

    Lets forget about any type of physical persecution, lets forget mental persecution, forget the rights to religious belief, lets for about anything thought to be too big or inconsequential.

    Lets just look and face at the possibility of going to prison and may we stare very hard at the prospect of an execution for spreading ‘The Good News’, smuggling Bibles, preaching and to teach people how to be good PERSON.

    I can send you hundreds if not thousands of news articles, Official reports conduct by the UN, UNICEF, US State Department and countless personal account from blogs and Facebook, just to widen your eyes before you start attacking someones legitimate reason to share the hardship of Christians and Catholics in Vietnam.

    I really deplore you for defending a country that has no respect for human rights let alone freedom of religious belief.

  • david njeru says:

    May I assure the body of Christ in Vietnam and Asia who are under persecution that we Christians in Kenya pray for you continuously and soon you will be free like Paul and Silas.THE LORD WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU.

  • anton says:

    dear Many!
    I don’t know whether you are a Christian or not but many things you say are not true. The Vatican has no permanent ambassador in Vietnam. the Ambassador stays in Singapore. the increase of corruption in the government has made the persecution become worst in the recent years.
    thanks for the report Ken Tran!

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