Eban is one of many women in Vietnam whose husbands have been put in prison for their outspokenness and protest about discrimination against Christians. She now has a daily struggle to support her family on her own. But one thing she never regrets, despite her hardships, is her husband’s stand for what is right. He is currently serving eight years in prison and won’t be released until 2020. How will she, together with her four children, survive?
Eban is a faithful mother and brings the children up carefully in the way of the Lord. Nie, her husband, was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment on 29 October 2012 with the charge of protesting against the government for legal rights for freedom of religion. It is not the first time he has been arrested.
Nie was an evangelist and lay preacher in a church in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. In 2008, he was arrested and imprisoned for six months for his evangelism and for encouraging people to come to church. The government claimed they must give each church member permission to attend, otherwise the meeting would be illegal, but in reality they were seeking a way to silence Nie.
During his imprisonment, they tortured Nie so badly that he became paralysed. Eban described how they would use an electric prod to paralyse his legs, and then strap his hands down and torture his finger tips by beating them constantly. Once, when he was beaten around the head, blood started coming out his ears. Ever since this trauma, Nie has not had the clarity of mind he used to have. It still takes him time to process and respond to conversations.
After his release, Nie was told he could attend church but must not preach. They warned that all his activities would be closely monitored.
Nie is a natural leader. There was discrimination between the Vietnamese people and his own Ede tribal people over their wages. At the rubber plantation where he worked, the Vietnamese employees received $343 per month, but the Ede tribal people were only paid $114 for the same work. Nie spoke out against this treatment and the plantation owner reported him to the authorities.
A trumped-up charge was created and Nie was arrested to silence his protest. Eban said, “My husband has the character to stand up for the underdog, even when he knew the authorities would not approve of his protest.”
An unforgettable day
The authorities arrived at 4am while Nie was working at the rubber plantation. First, they beat him in front of Eban and the other workers and then they handcuffed him to take him away like a criminal.
Eban cried so much when she saw her husband being taken away, this time to serve eight years in prison.
Working day and night
Each morning, Eban and her son must begin work at 1am harvesting rubber. It is hard work and they earn just $71 per month. They finish work at 11am, when her son goes to school and Eban looks after the family coffee farm with her nephew until 5pm. Returning home, she feeds the children and barely has enough time for a few short hours of sleep before she has to rise and walk the one-hour journey to the rubber plantation to begin work again.
How does she cope? “I try my best each day,” Eban said. “I cannot afford to stop work as I would not know how I could feed and educate my children.”
Last November, VOM Australia sponsored Eban on a trip to visit her husband in prison. She shared, “He looked normal, but said he has pain in his legs.” She requested medicine for pain relief and some massage oil. Nie’s faith is still strong but he prays alone as there are no believers near him in the prison. He has tried to witness to other prisoners but, as yet, none have been converted.
VOM Australia is providing funds so that Eban’s small coffee farm can become her main source of income so that she need not work at the rubber plantation or be exploited any more. This will allow her more time with her children and enable her to support her husband’s needs in prison. VOMedical will also supply funds for Nie’s treatment in prison. Please pray that their situation will continue to improve through this support.
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