How many Christians are there in Vietnam?
There are 9.6 million Christians in Vietnam, from a population of almost 100 million. Most of the population is Buddhist.
How are Christians persecuted in Vietnam?
For many Christians in Vietnam, following Jesus can bring intense hostility and even violence. While historical Christian communities, like Roman Catholic churches, enjoy some freedom, both non-traditional Protestants and those who convert from Buddhist or indigenous religions face intense pressure and violence for their faith, especially in the remote areas of central and northern Vietnam. Most believers belong to ethnic minority groups, like the Hmong, and face social exclusion, discrimination and attacks. Their homes are sometimes destroyed and they are forced to leave their villages. Church meetings face constant surveillance and frequent raids.
Christians also experience pressure within the armed forces, where military service is compulsory for all men. Religious convictions are not grounds for non-participation and evasion is punishable with a prison sentence. Christian servicemen are unable to read the Bible freely or participate in other Christian activities. Christian women, especially converts from tribal backgrounds, often face pressure in the home to recant their faith. They can be forced into early marriage, while within marriage, they can face oppression, violence, threats of divorce and sexual assault. Christian women and girls are also targeted for trafficking into China, alongside women from other ethnic and religious minorities.
The past year has seen a slight drop in pressure on believers from their families and local communities. However, there has also been an increase in violent attacks on believers and church buildings, and in the number of church leaders arrested. But despite such intense pressure to renounce Jesus, many hold on to their newfound faith with remarkable courage.
“My father was my biggest persecutor, but he was also my biggest miracle.”sang, whose father persecuted him – but then came to know JESUS, TOO
What's life like for Christians in Vietnam?
When Sang* decided to follow Jesus as a child, he was the first Christian in his family. He is from the Hmong tribe who are traditional animists, and his father persecuted him a lot, often violently. “At that time, I was so young. My father was angry with my conversion, and he did not allow me to join the church on Sundays,” shares Sang. “I told him that I will not give up my faith; I could not do that.”
After Sang graduated from college, he told his father that he wanted to serve the Lord full-time. “He was livid. He used a chair to hit my mother and demanded her to call me to go home,” remembers Sang. “If I did not go back, he would kill her or me. If he could not kill me, he will kill himself. He called me and threatened me a lot.”
Sang and his mother suffered violent persecution at the hands of his father for ten years. It was incredibly hard, but Sang couldn’t leave his ministry or his faith. “There were times I thought of giving up, but it would soon occur to me that if I die, I will be full of despair and without hope,” he says. “So, I get up and continue to follow Christ – I say, if I die, I want to die in and for Christ.”
Then, one day, God answered one of his biggest prayers: his father became a Christian.
“My father was my biggest persecutor, but he was also my biggest miracle. He said he saw a huge transformation in me since I graduated and came back from the Bible school. He was amazed and told me that my life was changed for the better as he has seen my worst. He shared, ‘I know that God is good for He has worked on you.’ That’s when he decided to become a Christian.
“I witnessed that nothing is impossible with God. Even those who fiercely persecute Christians, God can change their heart and become His follower, just like my father. It made me trust in the Lord even more. God will open the way at the right time, and when He opens, no one can shut it.”
*Name changed for security reasons
Is it getting easier to be a Christian in Vietnam?
Vietnam has fallen ten places on the World Watch List, caused by pressure reducing in all spheres of life. On the other hand, the number of violent incidents recorded has increased: it is a mixed story for believers. It also seems that authorities at the national level are not sure how to react to increased international scrutiny of their freedom of religion record.
How can I help Christians in Vietnam?
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Vietnam. Your prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors works through local partners to strengthen persecuted believers in Vietnam by providing relief and practical aid, advocacy support, Christian resources, leadership and discipleship training and socio-economic development projects.
Father God, thank You for our family in Vietnam, and for the ways in which You are moving in and through them. Keep them strong in their faith and help them as they face different challenges; may they hold onto You and not lose heart. We pray that You'd also meet all their needs and heal all their hurt. Soften the hearts of local authorities who see Christians as a threat to their communities, and give them personal encounters with believers that shift their perspective and behaviour. Encourage our Vietnamese sisters and brothers today, and refresh their spirits. Amen.