“Compared to 2014, 2015 seems to be a tougher situation,” church leader Van* from Hanoi tells Open Doors. “From the beginning of the year until now, the government hasn’t recognized any (new) churches. Underground churches are also being persecuted more. The government wants to limit the number of people in churches. They don’t want growth.”
It’s now the middle of the year and at #16 on the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List, Vietnam remains restrictive for people who believe in Jesus Christ.
“Before, if we went against Decree 92, they would simply fine, stop or warn us. But with the new law they’re drafting, if we do something ‘bad’ we’re seen as violating national law,” says church leader Goh*.
The new religious law is now in its fourth draft. The government persists in curbing church growth through violent and prohibitory means.
On June 16, 10 men on motorbikes attacked three church workers from Ha Tinh in northern Vietnam. The church workers had been on their way home from conducting a funeral service. The masked men stopped the Christians’ car in the middle of the road and shouted at them to get out.
“When they refused, the attackers used sticks and spear like objects to hit the car,” says Jim*, a local pastor. “They destroyed the glass. One of the spears hit the neck of one brother and caused major bleeding. The driver of the car stepped on the gas to escape the mob. There was no physical damage but the damage to the car cost them more than $1,500.”
Jim says the violence was due to the fact that the authorities had not agreed for a Christian funeral service to be held. But the family had insisted.
Another incident occurred last April when authorities interrupted a church service in Saigon. Tribal pastor Ha* was leading his congregation of 87 in worship when authorities came and knocked the structure down.
Open Doors continues to receive reports of interrupted services, lack of church recognition and interrogations.
Open Doors helps believers in Vietnam through persecution preparedness seminars, biblical trainings, Christian literature distribution and practical aid.
Please pray for:
· The new law on religion that is now in its fourth draft. Pray that the new law would be favorable to the church. Pray, too, that the government would consider the stake of house churches – the unrecognized part of the church in Vietnam – in the drafting of this law
· For the persecutors’ hearts to be softened
· The Lord’s work to continue to flourish in Vietnam despite the Enemy’s attempts to destroy
· For the Holy Spirit to strengthen persecuted believers in Vietnam; that they may point the people around them to Jesus Christ.
*Names changed for security reasons
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Christy Lynn Wilson at 770-401-9842.