Vietnam (MNN) — While Vietnam has been dropped from the United States' list of countries of particular concern as it relates to religious freedom violations, Christians are still reporting difficulties. According to reports, churches have been destroyed by the government, and believers have been forced to recant their faith.
President of Vision Beyond Borders Patrick Klein confirms the reports. "A large church that actually had about 1,000 members was burned to the ground recently by the government. But in spite of the persecution, the church continues to grow."
Klein believes that persecution is taking place in rural areas. "It seems like the Central Highlands and the north are very much persecuted. In the south, they've backed off because there's a strong foreign presence. But the Central Highland and the north are very much persecuted, especially the tribal Christians."
Klein thinks he knows why the church is growing. "When persecution comes, it kind of 'cleans up' the church. People who are playing games, who aren't serious about the Lord, get out of the way. And then the ones who are really sold out go forward with the work."
To help the Church continue to grow, Bibles are desperately needed in Vietnam. According to Klein, the U.S. decision to drop Vietnam from the list of particular concern actually hurt Bible distribution. "There's only about two or three groups that we know of who are actually carrying Bibles in to Vietnam, and we're one of them. People have backed off saying, 'Vietnam isn't so persecuted.' But it really is."
More covert tourists to carry Bibles into the country are needed, says Klein. "If you get stopped carrying Bibles in, they just tell you not to do this. And they might take them away from you. A lot of times, you can talk to them and they'll let you through. We've had very good success going into Saigon."
Recently, one of his teams made an historic delivery for Vision Beyond Borders. "They carried the first complete Yao Bible into Vietnam just two weeks ago and gave it to our contact. And he was so excited because he said this is the first time they've ever had the whole Bible in their own language."