Christians in Vietnam have recently shared a series of sad stories of persecution with Open Doors local partners. The country is number 25 on the World Watch List, and Christians often face violent persecution – particularly converts who belong to the country’s ethnic communities, who are considered to have betrayed their traditional faith. In these three stories, you can meet Christians who are facing great costs – and still choosing to take the risk to follow Jesus. Please pray for them.
When Gia An*, his wife and children and his sister became Christians, they didn’t want to hold back their joy. They sang hymns and worshipped the Lord in their home, and invited people from their church to come and pray with them. Their family reacted very angrily.
"We will not give up our faith; we believe that God will continue to reveal Himself to us." Gia An
“My parents believe that what we are doing is disturbing the souls of the dead people in our house, and this will bring a curse and bad luck to the family,” says Gia An. “They expelled us from their house.”
When members of their church learned about the situation, they wanted to help the family by building a small house for them – but they didn’t have enough money to finish it. There was no roof, which made living in it almost impossible during Vietnam’s rainy season.
Relatives and neighbours mocked this family of believers, saying “Call out to your God; He will take care of you. Show us that your God is better than ours!” Despite these insults, Gia An and his family chose to remain faithful to God – and praying for their community. “We will not give up our faith; we believe that God will continue to reveal Himself to us and to these people,” says Gia An.
When Open Doors local partners heard about Gia An and his family, God used them to answer the believers’ prayers – they stepped in and supplied what was needed to finish their home. That’s only possible thanks to the prayers and gifts of Open Doors supporters. The neighbours had mocked them – but God did exactly what they suggested He couldn’t do: He took care of them.
"We want them to know that they are not alone." Athan, Open Doors
“We want them to know that they are not alone,” says Athan*, a local Open Doors partner. “We are one family in Christ. So, aside from prayers, we provided enough funds for them to be able to finish constructing their house and buy food for the next three months.”
Please pray for Gia An and his family to continue to be firm in their faith, and thank God for His generous provision. The local church prays that they will be able to show God’s love to the whole community – please join them in this prayer.
Suong* has faced rejection by her whole family, because of following Jesus. She is a believer from a tribal background, living in a district of Vietnam where there is no church or any recognised Christian group. Worse than that, the local government is trying to expel any Christians from the area. Last year, three Christians were jailed because of their faith. These authorities say that the province is a ‘non-religion area’, and have refused to join in any dialogue about freedom of religion or belief.
Suong’s family agree with the authorities. “They kept pressuring me to denounce my faith and sign a document stating that I voluntarily gave up my faith,” she says. “I ignored them.”
Her husband initially supported her decision – but when his work threatened to fire him, he turned his back on Suong.
"I am very afraid, but I will not give up my faith." Suong
“When I stood firm in my faith despite the pressures I received from all sides, my in-laws brought me back to my parents hoping they will convince me to reject my Christian faith,” she says. “When I said no, they said they will kick me out and will not allow me to go back home anymore. I am very afraid, but I will not give up my faith.”
A local Open Doors partner has been able to help Suong when she was kicked out, including support to find a place to live and encouraging her with prayer and fellowship.
Recently, Suong’s husband found where she was living and came demanding a divorce. “If not, he will force me to go home and be handed over to the police,” she says.
Suong is considering fleeing to another country with her child. “I am very scared. I don’t know what to do. Why do they make it difficult for us to follow Jesus? But I will trust in God’s mercy and protection,” she says. Please pray for Suong to know God’s loving provision and care, to remain strong in her faith, and to find fellowship with other believers.
A group of believers in a village in south east Vietnam were excited to finally have a building to meet in for their church service. One of the group donated his land to the church, and they put in an application to be allowed to build.
“The church asked permission many times to change the declaration of the land from rice field to residential, but the local government did not answer yes or no,” says Pastor Phong*, who leads the growing church. Eventually they decided to begin construction – but the local government intervened.
"Wherever we serve the Lord, we can face difficulties. We lean on God and stand firm in the ministry." Pastor Phong
“They said we are building illegally on this land,” shares Pastor Phong. “The landowner was fined 7,000,000 Vietnamese dong.” This is about £230 – the monthly salary of a farmer in Vietnam. “Some local officers also came to confiscate some machinery and forcibly tried to demolish the building.”
He adds that it’s not a one-off: “Another house church is facing the same situation as we do. We can see that their purpose is to limit the growth of the church.”
The congregation haven’t let this obstacle stop them worshipping, though. They continue to gather at the unfinished building, and trust in God for their future.
“Wherever we serve the Lord, we can face difficulties,” says Pastor Phong. “We lean on God and stand firm in the ministry. My focus now is to build up spiritual life for our members. God always comforted me and sent helpers to us.”
One of those helpers is Thien Nhi*, an Open Doors local partner, who is in constant communication with Pastor Phong and providing encouragement and prayers. Please join her in praying for the church to remain resilient and faithful, and join the church in praying for the local authorities to allow the construction and encounter God themselves.
*Names changed for security reasons
Father God, thank You for the resilient faith of our brothers and sisters in Vietnam. I pray that You would continue to answer their cries for help and be ‘their stronghold in times of trouble’ (Psalm 37:39). Please give Gia An and his family, Suong, Pastor Phong and all persecuted Vietnamese believers the homes and communities they need, and change the hearts of those who persecute Christians in Vietnam. For Your glory, Lord, Amen.
Come and meet the risk-takers of the persecuted church at this year’s Standing Strong - this autumn, events are happening in Birmingham, Leeds, Bangor (N. Ireland) and Cambridge. Find your nearest Standing Strong and book your free place today!