You’ve heard of savings banks, investment banks, even food banks. But a Cow Bank? But for Christians in Vietnam, the Cow Bank is helping them to not just to survive, but to share their faith. And for Mai - ostracised because of her faith, and struggling to survive because of her poverty - the Cow Bank has changed her life.
You’ve heard of savings banks, investment banks, even food banks. But a Cow Bank?
But for Christians in Vietnam, the Cow Bank is helping them to not just to survive, but to share their faith.
A tribal believer with cows from the Cow Bank
Mai* is a small, quietly spoken woman. But this widow from the Hmong tribe in the northern highlands of Vietnam is a woman of courageous faith.
She has fought poverty and hardship all her life.
“My parents were very poor. They had a farm, but eventually had to sell it so that we could have enough money to live. Our house was so small and frail. Every time there was rain or a typhoon, we were very scared. We didn’t have a good place to stay in.”
She married a man called Canh* but life remained very hard.
Then, tragically, her husband died in a freak accident, leaving her to raise her two small sons alone. She worked in the fields, growing corns and sweet potatoes. But what she earned was not enough and she fell into debt.
“I was troubled,” she says, “How could my children and I survive?”
Then a local Pastor visited and Mai became a Christian. Her new faith, and her church family, gave her strength and hope. But her late husband’s family were furious. They wanted her to keep on performing rituals for the deceased, a spiritual practice done by the Hmong people.
“They persecuted me greatly,” she says. “They tried to prevent me from going to church and believing in Christ. I kneeled down and prayed that my family and I would continue to follow Christ regardless of the price we had to pay.”
They even threatened Mai with arrest. “I didn’t listen to them,” says Mai. “I never quit.”
Thankfully, her in-laws backed down. But their antagonism made it even harder for Mai to survive.
Then she was given a cow. From the Cow Bank.
Mai, tending cows provided by Open Doors
The Cow Bank is simple. Open Doors local partners give a pregnant cow to a family. They keep the mother cow for farming or breeding but the calf is given away to others in need. The aid allows persecuted, vulnerable Christians to live independent lives and continue to witness.
“Without the project, we didn’t know how we could earn a living,” Mai says. “I ask God to bless the donors and sponsors of this cow bank project.”
The Cow Bank changed Mai’s life. And when her in-laws saw her faith, they began to change as well.
“I shared the blessings I have in Christ to my in-laws and invited them to church,” she says. Now they are committed followers of Christ.
“Pray that my family will continue to love God and walk with Him. Pray that we would be living testimonies to the people we know, and to those we will meet in the future.”
Vietnam is number 20 in the Open Doors World Watch List. The Communist government monitors Christian activity and exercises a high level of pressure on all Christians. It is particularly suspicious of the ethnic minorities who live in the central and northern highlands – like the Hmong tribe to which Mai belongs. But trouble comes from the tribal leaders as well, who will often exclude Christians and new converts from the community, seeing them as traitors of their culture and identity.
Open Doors supports the church in Vietnam through providing Bibles and other Christian literature, training, socio-economic development, advocacy and relief aid to tribal believers.
*Name changed for security reasons