‘I’m a Christian’
A Lam married and he and his wife Y Ca* soon began to want children. Following the village customs, the couple went to the local witch doctor to ask for a child.
“We spent a lot of money on sacrifices to him,” he says. His voice lowers and his eyes look down, as he shares the pain of losing two children. Their first baby died during childbirth. Their second, they lost during the pregnancy.
With some reticence, he approached his wife, pregnant with their third child, and suggested they go to the church and let the pastor pray for her. Out of desperation, she agreed. Throughout the pregnancy, A Lam prayed fervently for a healthy baby. His dark eyes shine when he shares their son was born with no complications.
It was all he needed to publicly confess the Jesus he had followed secretly over the last six years.
“I stood up and said, ‘I’m a Christian,’” he shares. His wife also decided to follow Jesus. Together, they began attending worship services at the local church in a nearby village.
But just a few weeks later, trouble started once again for the young family. Village officials summoned A Lam for interrogation. As he approached the area, he saw everyone he knew, their eyes fixed on him, including his family and friends. The community he had grown up in was now an angry mob poised to accuse and attack.
“They planned to beat me,” he says. “They had already prepared four or five strong guys to attack me, but I thank God that did not happen.” Standing in front of the community he had grown up in, A Lam was accused, publicly denounced and ‘sentenced’.
“They told me that because I had become a Christian I had to leave,” he shares.
For those from Asia who are taught from a young age to value honor even more than their own lives, public denouncement is often even worse than a beating, our partner in Vietnam explains. “It’s like being found guilty and you bring shame to your whole family.”
That day, A Lam and Y Ca left their home, taking only a few things, and moved in with the pastor of their church.
Evangelism, threats and secret believers
A Lam tells several stories of sharing Jesus, followed by persecution, in the new village. He has learned the truth of Matthew 10:22 firsthand—that those who confess the name of Jesus will be ‘hated and despised’.
He remembers leading a young man to Christ. When the local government found out, they encouraged the man’s mother to confront A Lam. “She came to me with a knife and said she would kill me or destroy the house,” A Lam remembers.
Another time, A Lam shared the gospel with a family and they trusted Christ. Again, local leaders were quick to intervene. Despite threats, the family still follows Jesus, he says.
Through prayer, conversations between the village leaders and A Lam’s pastor have diffused the situation for A Lam and the many new believers he has brought to Christ.
“They just ask a few questions and then they let it go,” he explains.
God has also opened the door for him to go back to the communist village where is from and the whole area around him—A Lam has taken those opportunities to share the gospel. In his former village, he tells us that he has secretly led almost 60 people to Jesus. The room fills with audible amazement as we realize how God is working in this young man who has been faithful to answer the call to follow Jesus—and to be His witness.
But A Lam quickly reminds us of the danger of these decisions. “I pray for them because they’re new believers, and they’re scared they will face persecution,” he says, asking us to remember them as well.
He also asks for prayer to grow in his knowledge of the Bible to continue to stand firm and help others do the same. And he requests prayer for the many families who are suffering as a result of the country’s COVID-19 lockdown. The area’s manioc (a potato-like vegetable grown throughout Southeast Asia) factories closed. As a result, the harvest workers also lost their jobs, including A Lam. Currently, he is working on his small farm.
“I praise God that I still have land to toil,” he says.
A Lam closes our time together, sharing a paraphrase of his favorite scripture: “Jesus said if anybody wants to be His disciple he must sacrifice himself and take up their cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). It is his faith verse, he says.
“That verse really encouraged me to stand up and be willing to take risks to follow Jesus. Jesus said that I must daily take on His cross—I pray I can always follow Him.”
*representative names used for security reasons