In March 2015, seven officers from Vietnam’s Commune People’s Committee harassed 31-year-old believer Trong* for refusing to give his fellow villagers a bottle of wine and a chicken to offer to the stone and tree spirits of their village.
When Vietnam transitioned to a Communist state in 1975, many missionaries and pastors fled or were expelled from the country. The new social order, which viewed Christianity as a foreign ideology, opposed Christians and sent many believers underground. Forty years later, there are still Christians in Vietnam both underground and above. Living out their faith is still difficult for Vietnam’s Christians, as Trong can attest.
House church congregations conduct worship services and discipleship classes under restrictive regulations that give them the option to seek official permission for church gatherings; permission that is rarely granted. Instead, congregations that attempt to register end up exposing themselves to local officials who use the occasion to keep tabs on their whereabouts and activities.
On that day in March, while one officer talked with Trong’s landlord, three others burst into his barn and stole his family’s pig, which cost $240. Trong has three children, and the loss of that pig is significant. Yet he says he will continue in faith and service as secretary of their 150-member house church. “I will continue to spread the gospel regardless of circumstances,” he told Open Doors.
A similar incident happened to another believer. In March of last year, 13 officials from the Commune came to him and his family in the middle of the day to confiscate a pig belonging to the family. The officials said this was due to their refusal to follow the Commune’s regulations in worshipping spirits. In August, members of the Commune came again with 16 people and stole two more pigs. “They said that by following Jesus Christ, you violate the laws. So we have to take your pigs,” he reported. The livestock he lost were worth around $350. Additionally, this believer’s entire family has also been denied proper healthcare by their local village.
Pray for Vietnam’s ethnic believers. Vietnam is 16th on the Open Doors World Watch List, and 60 percent of Vietnamese Christians belong to one of the 50 ethnic minorities concentrated in the Central Highlands who fought against the Viet Cong during the 70s and, consequently, arouse the suspicions of local authorities. They generally raise livestock, till their own farms or work as hired hands in coffee and rubber plantations. Opportunities to earn a living are scarce for these ethnic believers. Sometimes they lose what little livelihood they have for professing their faith in Christ.
Father, we lift before You Trong and the many ethnic believers in Vietnam. We pray for the house churches; that You will protect the members from surveillance and harassment, that You will provide safe places to worship and that You will bring abundant fruit to their ministry. Thank You for the nomadic pastors who come to teach, pray over and encourage the local believers. Make them invisible to the eyes of local authorities so that they might not be detained and placed in custody. In all of their adversity, we pray that the light of Christ will shine forth from the lives of Vietnamese Christians; that in this difficult time of persecution, Christ will be revealed through their faith and godliness. May Your glory dispel the spiritual darkness that pervades this land. We ask all this in the glorious Name of Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Amen.