‘Pray I Never Give Up,’ Says Displaced Vietnam Evangelist
Vietnam ranks #17 on the 2017 World Watch List, climbing from #20 in 2016, due to an increased level of violence and pressure spread across all spheres of life. Northern provinces, including evangelist Vang Atu’s*, are reported to have more persecution incidents against Christians. Vang Atu, a persecuted believer from the Hmong tribe, experienced the wrath of his community firsthand, including losing his family home, but that didn’t stop him from being bold in his beliefs.
“Pray with me that one day, I’ll be able to go back to my hometown and testify to the people about my faith in the Lord.”
This is Vang Atu’s prayer.
Atu, a 28-year-old father to two kids, was the first Christian convert in his village. He comes from the Hmong tribe and once worshipped different spirits asking for luck, wealth, good health, food, etc. But when he surrendered his life to Jesus, he completely abandoned his animistic beliefs to follow Christ—a decision that would change the lives of his family.
Forced to Leave Their Family Home
Transformed by the gospel, Atu began to share his newfound faith with others in his village; at least four families became Christ followers. The Atu home became their place of worship and fellowship.
But on a day in April 2016, life changed for the Atu family and another family who had also come to faith. Early that morning, new converts in Christ, Thao Apao* and his son, joined the Atu family for an early morning prayer meeting. Soon after, Apao’s brother disowned him, and his community persecuted his family for believing in Jesus Christ. They didn’t stop there. After Thao was beaten, he received an eviction notice. Then local authorities and villagers led by Vang Atu’s brother attacked Atu, as well.
“My brother, who is an unbeliever, took a sturdy club, about one and a half meters long, and hit me hard on my leg and arm. I used my hand to block the club, and my lower arm broke. Blood dripped all over me,” Vang Atu shares, showing his scarred and fractured right arm.
Despite his brother’s violent act, Vang’s desire to represent Jesus overpowered the hatred he felt for his brother. “The time my brother hit me, I was angry. But I realized that I am a son of God and I should not fight back so that one day I can testify to my brother of the goodness of the Lord in my life.”
Making things worse, at noon on the same day local authorities beat Vang, and villagers destroyed his family’s home, smashing into pieces the wooden ceiling, walls, doors and windows. The ruthless destruction served two purposes: to put the Atu family to shame; and to warn other villagers that the same would happen to them if they believed in Jesus.
“I felt that the government was unfair. I felt a bit angry at that time,” Vang recalls. “But I was corrected. I am already a Christian, and I shouldn’t seek revenge on what they did to me. I should just leave the village.”
“God Shall Provide for Us”
Though Atu also received an immediate eviction notice, the family didn’t have the money to move out of the village.
“I have a piece of land and some farm animals, but I cannot sell them,” he said. “I believe I’m not allowed to sell them because I am a Christian. I know someone who was an unbeliever who decided to transfer to another village and sold his properties. He was allowed to sell them. Later, the government told me that they would take my land and my animals because I believe in my God. But God shall provide for us.”
Weeks after they lost their homes, having nothing but faith, Vang Atu and Thao Apao traveled together with their families to central Vietnam after hearing that other believers there might be able to help them.
Pastor Trang*—a man in his thirties described by an Open Doors’ local partner as a “joyful pastor”— willingly received the families into his home. In May 2017 at a Standing Strong Through the Storm (SSTS) training that Open Doors offers to persecuted believers, Pastor Trang approached an Open Doors local partner and shared Vang Atu’s and Thao Apao’s needs. In July, Open Doors provided homes for Thao Apao and Vang Atu’s families in Pastor Trang’s village.
“I thank God and thank you all for providing my family and me a house. Now, I live in this house that gives me security and comfort,” Atu says, expressing deep gratitude. “I now have a house to come back to every time I feel tired.”
Aside from Vang Atu’s desire to return to his village to share the gospel with his brother and other tribesmen, he also encourages you to pray with him for his spiritual growth.
“Pray that I will never give up in believing in Jesus until I meet Him in Heaven.”
Thousands of persecuted believers like Vang Atu Thao Apao are forced to leave their homes and villages because they have turned away from their tribal religion and made a decision to follow Christ. Please join us in praying for strength, safety, and boldness to share the gospel for our brothers and sisters in Christ
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