Vietnam has a repressive communist government, which actively persecutes Christians. Minority tribal groups, such as the Hmong, typically face the most violent and severe forms of persecution.
In the recent past, the government has used imprisonment of believers as a way of oppressing the church. The most common reasons for imprisonment have included preaching the Gospel, gathering without permission, protesting against the government in response to confiscation of Christian-owned land and lack of freedom to worship. During the past two decades, hundreds of Christians have been arrested and sent to prison or labour camps for sentences ranging from four to seventeen years.
Life in a Vietnamese prison is exceedingly difficult, and prisoners are frequently beaten and tortured for their faith. There have been several reports of prisoners dying while in prison due to ill treatment. All prisoners tend to have chronic health problems due to poor living conditions, shortage of food and medicine, and a lack of clean water. The temperature inside the prison varies considerably throughout the year, sometimes to dangerous levels – prisoners often do not have sufficient clothing to keep warm in winter. Each day, they are required to work very hard and the given quotas are difficult to meet.
Released prisoners are usually in very poor health. The most common medical conditions include nerve and muscular damage, back problems, malnutrition, digestive disorders, hepatitis and heart problems. Medical treatment is essential to help ensure the released prisoner can return to a normal life, including the opportunity to provide for his family.
Our contacts in Vietnam have compiled an extensive report on the medical needs of recently released prisoners. We are currently in the process of arranging for each one to have a complete medical examination and appropriate treatment.
Sending Christians to jail because of their faith is currently not the primary method which the government uses to oppress Christians. It is now more common to try to persuade new believers to denounce their faith by threatening them with loss of employment, using hired criminals to attack them, confiscating their lands, destroying their houses or driving them from their villages.
Please pray for our contacts as they arrange medical care for released prisoners. Ask the Lord for His healing and pray for the released prisoners as they continue to recover and adjust to life outside of prison. Thank the Lord for the growing church in Vietnam and pray the Lord will strengthen those who are facing ongoing opposition.
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