A new wave of persecution is rampant through northern parts of Vietnam today. “Renounce your faith and put your idols back up in your house,” the government official commanded the young Christian family.
Like many Hmong, Binh and her husband Uriah are simple rice farmers in northern Vietnam. They rely heavily on good crops to feed their family and provide a very small income.
Being threatened by the authorities put fear into their hearts, but they courageously stood firm. In receiving Christ they had found a Saviour who brought not only a positive change to their family, but a new joy, peace and purpose for their lives. They didn’t want to return to their old way of life and be bound by idols and rituals they had inherited from generations past.
Police threats are very common and not always followed through, but this time, they arrested Uriah. They took him to their office, where they beat him and threatened him with a revolver, shouting, “If you do not deny the faith, we will kill you!”
Uriah was sent home to bring his wife back to the police office immediately. Running home, he told Binh about the seriousness of their threats. She returned with him, expecting to be reprimanded for not renouncing their faith, but as soon as she reached the door, a police officer struck her on the head and started beating her whole body. Uriah was forcibly held back while his wife was savagely attacked until she fell unconscious and bleeding to the ground.
When Binh regained consciousness, nobody was there. Her head and face were extremely painful and she was swollen from the beating, but she managed to slowly walk home.
She found her husband there, who was so angered by her injuries that he wanted to retaliate. His younger brother was with them, and urged, “We must forgive those who want to harm us, just like Jesus did.” He reminded Uriah and Binh how Jesus was treated at His trial and how, as believers, we must suffer as He did. The anger in Uriah’s heart subsided with his brother’s comfort and wisdom.
Binh and Uriah actively witnessed for Christ in their community and gradually many local villagers were saved. They began to meet as a church in their house. Even the village chief and his family became Christians and would join them for prayer and worship. It was a wonderful time of fellowship.
Persecution in their house
On 2 March 2014, a new trial was imposed on the family. Three policemen arrived at their door, stating they were going to live with them, right in their house, to prevent them from doing any Christian activities. They were under orders not to leave until this evangelical family stopped their work. Uriah and Binh were stunned. The thought of having three policemen living in their house, watching everything they did, was unbelievable.
The family protested, telling the policemen they had no right to invade their home, as the law provided freedom of religion. Laughing, the policemen said, “The jungle law rules here and we are here to enforce it. We are in no hurry to go home.”
Still in shock, Binh and Uriah told their fellow Christians in the village what had happened. The police warned the whole village not to contact them or they would face the consequences. Their children said to the policemen, “Why are you doing this? Our parents have done nothing wrong and we will still keep our faith.” The policemen replied, “If you were 18 years old we would be within our rights to beat you, so count yourself fortunate that you are still small and won’t get beaten.”
The policemen thoroughly searched the house and confiscated any Christian material they found. Fortunately, Binh had hidden one Bible and hymn book and they were not discovered.
It is now over five months since the police came to live in their home and it has been an extremely difficult time for the family. They take what opportunities they can to read the Bible together and silently worship the Lord without the police finding out. Through all they have endured, they have resisted denying their Lord. Other believers in the village now also have police living in their homes, trying to force them to deny Christ and return to their old customs.
My life is a living hell
Taking great care when leaving home to avoid increased opposition from the police, Binh came to meet with our workers. When we interviewed her, we could still see the scars on her head and face from her beating. She wept openly as she told her story and faced the reality of going home, sharing with us, “My home is a living hell, but I will never deny my Lord.” She loved the time of fellowship with other believers, which was such an encouragement to her faith that she said, “Being here is what I imagine heaven is like.”
VOM Australia is seeking legal counsel for the rights of believers so that this terrible situation of placing police in Christians’ homes will be stopped. This strategy is growing rapidly in areas where evangelism is strong. Please pray for this family and many others who have police placed in their homes today.