We’re used to images of children attending Sunday school, singing in a carol service or joining in with the worship songs. And we remember Jesus saying “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). In Vietnam, though, this is the reality for young children. Six-year-old Phouc* is recovering after being attacked because her parents had converted to Christianity.
In a coma for a month
Phouc was in a coma for a month, after she was beaten. Her attackers hit her on the head and punched her in the stomach. She became very ill and had severe head and stomach pain and had to be rushed to hospital, where she fell into the coma. Even when she eventually awoke, she was unable to recognise her parents.
Why was this six year old attacked so brutally? Solely because her parents had recently stopped the village practice of ancestor worship – choosing to follow Jesus instead. This angered the local authorities, who whipped up rage across the whole village. Before Phouc was attacked, her parents were beaten and forcibly dragged over out of their village in northern Vietnam, pulled by ropes tied to their hands.
Forced to leave their village
The angry villagers shouted at them to deny their faith, but they refused. They endured being mocked, beaten and dragged over rocky ground for more than two hours. Once they got to the entrance to the village, Phouc’s parents were told to leave. Members of their church took them to a nearby hospital, where they were treated for three days.
The family’s pastor spoke with local authorities, asking that they be allowed to return to their homes. Permission was granted, but villagers continued to threaten and curse them because of their new-found faith in Christ. The family describe each day as ‘a torture’. God’s grace and love sustains them, but their lives are extremely hard. Phouc is too young to understand why this happened to her, and her injuries mean that she doesn’t even remember the attack.
Life for Christians in Vietnam
Vietnam is number 20 on the 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. Tribal leaders will often exclude Christians and new converts from the community, seeing them as traitors of their culture and identity.
Christians from ethnic minority groups face the greatest persecution, which includes harassment, violent attacks and social exclusion. As with the situation in Phouc’s home, villagers collude with local Communist authorities, beating believers, kicking them out of their villages and stoning places of worship during meetings. Non-Christian relatives cut family ties and deny inheritance. Local and national government authorities persecute the Christian minority through their laws, and Christian bloggers and political activists have been arrested and sentenced.
Thanks to your prayers and gifts, Open Doors is able to support the church in Vietnam through providing Bibles and other Christian literature, training, socio-economic development, advocacy and relief aid to tribal believers.
- For health, protection and peace for Phouc and her family
- That their attackers will encounter God and turn to Jesus
- That Open Doors church partners in Vietnam will be the light of Christ in their communities.
*Name changed to protect identity