Open Doors partners harassed by authorities while delivering COVID-19 aid in Vietnam

June 9, 2020 by Christopher Summers in Stories of Persecution

Although Vietnam lifted its nationwide COVID-19 lockdown on April 23, the government still provides support countrywide—especially to those who are poor, have low incomes or have lost their jobs during the pandemic.

 

Some of the people who were supposed to receive this assistance are 18 Christian families in a part of northern Vietnam, near the border with China—107 people in all, including senior citizens and children. The government aid is distributed by local authorities.

 

But none of these 107 believers received any help.

Instead, the authorities told them: “You are Christians and your God shall take care of your family! The government is not responsible of your families!”

Our Open Doors teams knew we needed to do something. So, last week, Open Doors local partners were able to provide sacks of rice to these families—but even this wasn’t easy.

To avoid a large gathering and prying eyes, Open Doors partners asked a representative from each of the 18 families to meet at a church member’s house and collect their emergency food aid. Open Doors partners immediately started the distribution when they arrived at the site.

But just 15 minutes later, local authorities, including the tribal leader, the town head for Religious Affairs, two police officers, and some other official staff appeared. They demanded that the Open Doors partners stop the distribution and asked them of where the help was coming from.

One of our partners, Pastor Foom*, bravely faced the authorities. “Our church donated these sacks of rice to help them in this difficult time,” he told them. “Since you could not provide food for them and discriminated against them from receiving aid because they are Christians, our church decided to help them. Why are you stopping us from helping them?”

One of the officers answered, “Because they are Christians and they are rich! There’s no need to help them.”

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Pastor Foom replied, “How could you say they are rich? Even at this instant if you go to their homes, their children have no food to eat.”

But the local authorities did not yield. They demanded that the Open Doors partners pack up and leave the village immediately. They ordered them to show their national identification cards and other personal documents, but the team refused, saying that they had not broken any laws. So, the officers took their photos instead.

To avoid more complications, the Open Doors partners took the sacks of rice to a different village where a believer willingly opened his house to store the aid, despite the risk of being visited or interrogated by the authorities.

The representatives of the 18 families were then instructed, one after the other, to discreetly go to the believer’s house and get their aid—each household received four sacks of 25 kilos [about 55 pounds] of rice.

One of the recipients expressed his gratitude towards Open Doors supporters. “I would like to say thank you so much to our brothers and sisters,” he said. “Thank you for supporting us in this difficult time. We have received the rice and it will help our families to have food in the coming days. May God bless your hearts.”

  • Praise God for protecting our partners, from the moment they stepped out of their homes until they reached their destinations and back to their houses. Although they were stopped by the authorities, the Lord did not allow them to be attacked physically or detained and interrogated at the police station.
  • Praise God for providing for the needs of our brothers and sisters in this part of Vietnam. Thank you for being willing to be used by the Lord in putting food on the tables of these believers.
  • Pray the incident with the authorities will not compromise or cause more troubles for our partners and for the believers in the future. Pray the Lord will continue to protect them and give them wisdom and courage.

*Names changed to protect believers.

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