Vietnam’s church shows hopeful signs

By May 12, 2008

Vietnam (MNN) — The church of Vietnam became splintered after the communist victory of 1975. Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe made his first visit there this year since becoming International Director World
Evangelical Alliance International
.

Tunnicliffe met with key church leaders in Ho Chi Minh City to learn more about the current situation of the Vietnamese church. What he found was that Christians feel the
2005 liberalization of laws and regulations on religious freedom were helping

However, though there are now four registered churches in Vietnam and about 275 in a lower registration bracket, many house churches avoid registering for fear of government interference. A Danang-based Christian Mission Church was registered in late 2007, and in January 2008 a small Baptist church registered. The two joined the north and
south branches of the Evangelical Church of Vietnam.

There are an estimated 1.3 million Christians in Vietnam, and unity is still not visible at this point. One group may see membership with World Evangelical Alliance in the future
if they continue to work toward inclusiveness, Tunnicliffe told them at the meeting. The Vietnam Evangelical Fellowship represents about 200,000 Christians and appears to be genuinely
interested in unity. 

Though they face these challenges, Tunnicliffe was impressed by the optimism of the pastors. They presented him with a letter of prayer requests including a prayer for action on the 265 church properties confiscated at the communist takeover, for government
interference with churches to stop, and for redress of a pastor who was abused in 2007 while government officials were nearby.

While there is a long road ahead for Vietnamese believers to reach unity and freedom, there is hope for the future if work continues to be done.

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