Peter loved sharing the Word of God from his ‘photocopy Bible’. He boldly proclaimed the Gospel from this well-used copy of the Vietnamese Bible and many people became believers. But one day, Peter had his photocopy Bible taken away from him. He was arrested and sent to prison for preaching the Gospel.
Peter is a coffee farmer in central Vietnam. When he is not attending to his farm duties, he loves to preach the Gospel. With his photocopy Bible in hand, he leads a team into different provinces to share the story of salvation.
He clearly remembers 30 July 2008 – the day he was arrested for preaching the Gospel. As the leader of the evangelism team, he was given a nine-year jail sentence to discourage others from following his example.
Frequent interrogations and beatings were designed to try and force Peter to deny Christ and confess his crime. Some prisoners were given extra privileges if they beat prisoners at the guard’s direction. Often, they would start a fight, then blame the cause of it on any of the Christian prisoners.
The prison food was very poor. “I found it difficult to eat and keep the food down because of my stomach problems. Many of us suffered the same dilemma,” Peter shared. “Breakfast was a small bowl of rice and for lunch and dinner we had some vegetable soup; sometimes it might have a little meat in it. I remained sick most of the time.”
In 2009 he was sent to another prison to work on a rice farm. The conditions there were a little better but his stomach still caused problems and he experienced ongoing headaches.
One day in April 2010 a drunk prisoner attacked Peter viciously and beat him about the head until he was bleeding badly and fainted. The jail’s clinic gave him 10 stitches and kept him for two days, but on the third day he was forced to return to work on the prison farm. “Every time I moved my head I felt dizzy and I’d have to sit down or I would faint,” Peter recalled. He was still weak from the beating and his head pounded with the pain, but he had no choice but to keep going.
At night, Peter tried to remember Bible verses as the Word brought comfort to his soul. He bought a pen and paper from the prison and began to write down as many Scriptures as he could remember. “I was able to read my little paper Bible every morning,” he said.
There were 24 other Christians in the prison. They were able to meet and share in prayer on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays and one of them would preach. The amount of freedom they had to share with one another depended on which officers were on duty.
Peter commented, “We tried to evangelise the officers and other prisoners, but many just pushed us away. We knew that all we could do was pray for them. Prison officers often came and watched our worship service. They’d even see us take out our handwritten Bibles. They knew we were Christians but they just did not want to believe in God.”
Today, Peter is working his coffee plantation with his wife. They try to make ends meet but are facing a drought in their area and their well has dried up. They don’t have enough money to drill deeper.
As with all released Christian prisoners in Vietnam, VOM provided a full medical examination for Peter. These assessments are completed at a private hospital through qualified doctors.
There are times when Peter feels that his mind is confused. The doctors are considering treatment options but are more concerned with his stomach problem, which has been diagnosed as Hepatitis B, which could lead to cancer.
VOM is assisting Peter with his treatment as well as providing a large amount of rice for his family and funds to drill his well deeper to reach water.
Despite his suffering, imprisonment and concerns about providing for his family, Peter is courageous in faith.
“Even though I went through all of these trials, I will remain faithful to God,” he said.
We thank the Lord for the extreme devotion and love for God of Vietnamese Christians like Peter. Please pray faithfully for these brave believers and their families.