During the 40 days of Lent I’m committed to praying each day for Christians in the 40 countries where the cost of being a follower of Christ is highest. I invite you to do the same. The information on the prayer needs of each country comes from a combination of Open Doors, Barnabas Fund and Operation World.
Praying for Vietnam
2011 is the centennial year for the Evangelical church. A number of celebrations are planned across the country, pending approval by the government. Church permits are hard to obtain, especially for mass assemblies. The church is experiencing steady growth in the midst of the persecution that persists, particularly in rural areas, where village chiefs and local authorities continue to harass believers. In November 2010, two Christian evangelists were sentenced to six and four years in prison for ‘undermining national unity’. Easter celebrations in Hanoi have been disrupted by the government.
Answer to Prayer
A growing, witnessing Church is emerging from years of persecution. Catholic and Protestant, new expression and old, a significant turning to God is occurring in different places, in both registered and unregistered churches, and among different people groups. The Vietnamese diaspora is also seeing many become believers. These converts then bring the gospel back to Vietnam with them. There are three main groups where church growth is occurring:
a) Among the mountain tribal peoples of central and southern Vietnam.
Praise God for preservation and growth – by some estimates as great as nine-fold increase in just over thirty years! This occurred despite cruel persecution on the part of the government.
b) Among the Hmong and other minority peoples of Northern Vietnam.
The 1990s saw the Church grow rapidly among the Hmong from no believers in 1988 to estimates of up to 400,000 just two decades later, catalyzed by FEBC radio broadcasting. House church movements among Northern peoples have spread.
c) Among the ethnic Vietnamese (Kinh) themselves.
Although much more modest among this group, clear church growth is happening, in the formally recognized Evangelical Church of Vietnam [which actually consists of two separate organizations, one in the north EVCN(N) and one in the south EVCN(S)], in other, smaller but registered denominations and in the unregistered church networks as well. A Christmas gathering and service in Ho Chi Minh City in 2009 attracted 40,000 people.
Challenge for Prayer
One of the few Communist nations in the 21st Century, Vietnam faces new challenges. Repression of all types of freedom continues, but at the same time, social ills are on the rise. Drug addiction, AIDS, prostitution and exploitation of children are all too common. The land has seen great violence. Division and mistrust have been effective tools in the enemy’s hands in recent generations. Pray that the ideological and moral darkness over this nation might be banished by the light of the gospel.
- Give thanks for 100 years of Christianity in Vietnam
- That officials will permit churches to meet and celebrate
- For the production of a new Illustrated Children’s Bible in time for the celebrations. Pray that Christian children will grow in their understanding of God.