Local Missionaries in Vietnam
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam borders the South China Sea, Cambodia, Laos, and China. Mountains and tropical forests cover nearly all but 20 percent of the country’s landmass.
The Vietnamese majority, who mainly live in the country’s major cities, comprise approximately 85 percent of the population and remains a stronghold of communist ideology and atheism. The rest of the population is made up of ethnic minorities who live in the Central Highlands in the northern part of the country. Christianity has taken root and continues to grow among these ethnic minorities, who face increasing persecution from government authorities.
Though Vietnam ostensibly allows its citizens to freely worship in major cities, the government retains tight control over all registered churches. Registered churches are prohibited from meeting in smaller groups: no Sunday school classes for children or adults, no youth groups or other gatherings apart from congregational worship. Taking communion and collecting offerings are forbidden, police monitor sermons to ensure nothing is said against communism, and plural leadership is prohibited; only one leader is allowed for each congregation.
The Communist Party, which maintains authority over all state policy and activity, has ordered government officials to closely monitor and crack down on the unregistered house churches that continually form and grow in the Highlands region. Officials have ordered unregistered churches to pay steep fines, and are working to consolidate them into officially registered, government-monitored churches.
According to a Human Rights Watch report, “Highland people accused of religious ‘evil ways’ and politically ‘autonomous thoughts’ have been subjected to intimidation, arbitrary arrests, and mistreatment in custody.”
An indigenous ministry leader in Vietnam reported that more than 100 pastors are in prison. Their family members are legally allowed to visit them once a month, but most can only afford to visit once per year. Prisoners are kept far from their homes in harsh, primitive conditions.
Christian Aid Mission assists multiple indigenous ministries in Vietnam that are engaged in strategic methods of church-planting among unreached people groups. They are effectively using an extensive educational and training program to develop thousands of Christians leaders for the underground church. These leaders could plant hundreds of house churches in the next decade. Funding is needed for textbooks for students from the poor ethnic groups in the Central Highlands.
Financial support is also needed for Bibles, motorcycles to transport missionaries to remote areas, drilling wells in tribal areas for Christians denied access to community wells, and compassionate outreach to needy children, victims of leprosy, and the families of pastors who have been imprisoned for their faith.
Sources: Joshua Project, CIA World Factbook, Human Rights Watch
How to Pray for
- Pray for the ethnic groups in Vietnam that are still unreached by the gospel—that they would have witnesses for Christ among them soon.
- Pray for provision for indigenous ministries, that they would have the resources they need to continue bringing the gospel to those who have never heard about Jesus Christ.
- Pray for courage and perseverance for native believers among ethnic groups in the Central Highlands region as they are subject to persecution from government officials, neighbors, and even their own families.
More stories from Vietnam
Two Christian women told a visiting leader of a native ministry in Vietnam that when they lay in bed at night, they suffered deep dread as they felt the devil’s power – a sensation of cold going from their feet to their heads, cold sweats and uncontrollable shaking. In a country where some tribal people walk on burning coals to demonstrate the power of supernatural evil, the women were desperate for deliverance from demonic attacks. “Please pray for us,” one of the women said. “We don’t know what this is.”
“Because she was so desperate, she wanted to commit suicide by drinking insecticide,” a ministry leader said of a schoolteacher in Vietnam. She had a handsome young husband, was raising two young children and was in so much pain that she wanted to kill herself. “When holding the bottle of insecticide intending to drink it,” the leader said, “her two children were holding her and hugging her and crying.”
Invited to a local missionary’s house for dinner with other Christians in Vietnam, Thuan was surprised when they were somehow warm, fun and friendly without the drinking or opium-smoking common in his village. “He had heard the gospel from the local missionary many times, but he didn’t like hearing it,” the leader of a native ministry said. Thuan could not know that accepting the dinner invitation would set him on a journey to prison.
For years a police officer in Vietnam had followed orders to infiltrate worship services in search of pretexts for arresting church leaders and shutting down churches.
In a Vietnamese village where everyone worships the gods, goddesses and spirits of their ancestors, the gospel seemed a rude intruder.
When a young man found Christ in another village and brought it back to his family, the God of his salvation message seemed to them a foreign imposter.
Then the Holy Spirit began to stir their hearts.
In northwest Vietnam, a new Christian was telling a fellow villager about Christ recently when a man came up and struck him with a machete. Most Christians, knowing such hostilities could erupt from hard-liners, are careful to speak of Christ much more privately. While officials harass and arrest Christians whose worship becomes too large or noticeable, pressures from tribe, family and clan present the greatest challenge.