When hundreds of Christians arrived at the National Convention Center in Hanoi, Vietnam for a Christmas celebration, the doors were locked and police stood in front, trying to send everyone away, striking some Christians with fists and night sticks and arresting others. Deeply disappointed, some of the Christians began singing and praying in the square in front to the center, sources said. Christian leaders did their best to comfort the crowds, even in the midst of confusion and violence. Gradually the Christians dispersed. For many Christians who tried to come – some from great distances and at great personal expense – this would have marked the first time they had ever worshipped in a large gathering.
In what appears to be part of a central government crackdown on Protestant Christianity, similar incidents have been taking place in at least four other places throughout the country. Even those who closely follow Protestant church developments in Vietnam were somewhat surprised at the severity of the crackdown. According to Compass News one well-respected overseas Vietnam leader observed that this was a coordinated, well-planned and executed crackdown involving top Communist Party and government officials. As Christmas Day draws near, it appears the 400,000 or so Protestants that belong to unregistered churches will be denied celebrating together.
Father, as Christmas draws close, we think of our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world who are forbidden to gather and celebrate the birth of Jesus. We join in prayer for our Christian brethren in Vietnam and ask that Your love and peace be ever-present and will warm their hearts this Christmas, despite the opposition they face. We ask that You remove the any fear, sadness and confusion that some may be facing and replace it with hope. Father we also ask that You provide a safe place to gather, and that as they celebrate, those who do not yet know You will be drawn to You.
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