The Law on Belief in Religion which came into force on 1 January 2017, has caused grave concern amongst the Christian community in Vietnam because the government insists religious groups must be registered and approved.
The way in which the wording of the law can be interpreted is very vague and could be exploited to limit church activities. It is no coincidence that this law has come into existence when similar regulations on church activities in China came into force earlier this year.
After conversations with Christian leaders in both Vietnam and China, it is no surprise that an agreement was reached between both nations to control the growth of Christianity. Both Vietnam and China envisage a future devoid of Christianity and an expansion of communism once again.
However, despite these new regulations, many Christians choose to remain faithful to Christ and endure intense pressure, especially those believers who speak out against corruption and rights abuses.
Lawyers and Christian activists have been arrested because they have called for greater religious freedom. Some who have been found guilty of “propaganda against the state” have received harsh sentences of nine years in prison and five years under house arrest. Even Christian bloggers are being targeted and those arrested have been given five-year prison sentences.
In reports received from our contacts in Vietnam, they have told us of converts being intimidated, fined, beaten and abused, and some have been arrested. Land that has belonged to families for generations is confiscated by the local authorities and physical force is used against Christians to renounce their faith.
Hmong Christians in north Vietnam number approximately 400,000. With the growth of Christianity particularly among this tribal group, attacks on them have intensified. Many have faced severe persecution causing some to cross borders into neighbouring Laos and Thailand while others relocate to other parts of Vietnam in search of a more peaceful life.
Religious discrimination against Christians is another form of persecution with local authorities targeting Christian students by denying them scholarships to attend university. In rural areas, Christians are disadvantaged because of their faith, often being refused employment in civil service positions which has caused younger believers to search for jobs in the major cities. This has left a remnant behind in poverty.
Sadly, the government not only neglects the responsibility of caring for their citizens but sees the cruel and unjust treatment of Christians as justified, especially those living in isolated, rural areas.
Part of the government’s strategy to oppress and persecute Christians is to confiscate their land, forcing them to leave their village with nothing.
Displaced, they are compelled to live in a strange land where again, they may not be welcomed because of their faith. In many cases, finding a place to stay is difficult. Without work there will be no food to eat and many families struggle financially to make ends meet.
The need for Bibles continues
There are still many tribal groups which have not been reached with the Gospel, however once they have heard and believe, there is a great hunger for God’s Word.
Subsequently, by believing in Jesus, persecution follows and for these new believers to remain faithful, having their own Bible – in their own dialect, is their safeguard to falling away. Together with our national contacts, VOM Australia is working to supply them with Bibles and as a bonus, they will be provided with rice.
Bibles and Rice is specifically intended to reach believers who are being persecuted because they have put their faith in Christ. Many are in despair, wondering where their help will come from. VOM Australia wants to be the bearers of that help. Will you join us?
Bibles and Rice
This year in northern parts of Nigeria, outbreaks of violence have once again escalated.
The continual feuding between tribal groups, especially the Fulani herdsmen, are common however, their disputes are often directed toward Christians. It can be a simple and often innocent mistake relating to land rights that fuels these acts of violence, leaving many dead, and thousands forced to flee from their retaliation. VOM sources on the ground tell us of horrific attacks throughout the early part of 2018.
The Bibles and Rice project is one way we can help our brothers and sisters in Nigeria.
The following testimonies are from recent Bibles and Rice project recipients:
Deborah said these words: “I’m a Muslim convert and my husband sought to kill me after my conversion to Christianity. I had to run away with my two children and I am currently given accommodation by a VOM partner. This rice is the only food I have had since I came here.”
“Having a Bible will allow me to read and know more about God. I am thankful for the gift of rice for me and my children” said sister Faith.” Faith lost her husband to a sickness and is now a widow dependent upon the Lord.
Pam also lost her husband to sickness and said, “The Bible is what gives me spiritual growth and it will help me know the good from the bad. The rice will give my family strength.”
Rhoda lost her husband to one of the Fulani attacks in her village. She is now a widow raising her children alone. She said, “The Bible is for me to hear and do the Word of God and the rice is for our family to eat and live life.”
More info on Bibles and Rice
“We want a Christianity-free block. The villagers will soon return to their roots.” – RSS Saiyojak Laxman Singh Munda.
That is the proclamation of the RSS (Rashtriya Seva Sangh – National Volunteer Organisation), and their goal and priority today, is to eradicate Christianity from India by 2021! This very powerful, inflexible statement by the RSS is already having an impact on Christian communities in many parts of India today.
In conjunction with the RSS, the government in early 2017 cancelled licenses for over 200 non-profit organisations accusing them of “anti-national activities.”
However, the NGO’s see their removal of funding support as well as intimidation and harassment by the government agencies as attempts to suppress dissenting voices. Source: New York Times, 26 January 2017.
Update: Kandhamal, Odisha 2018
In the district of Kandhamal, a letter has been secretly circulated by Hindu fanatic groups to every remote village with the purpose of gathering support of the local Hindu Cadre people against Christianity in their districts.
Our sources in India believe the government is aware of this strategy and appear to be turning a blind eye to the situation. We do not forget the many displaced Christians who were previously attacked. They are still struggling to survive in the district of Kandhamal, where the government is not providing any form of support to these innocent tribal believers.
Daily they struggle to make a living, working as day labourers, when work is available. Most of those suffering live in unhygienic conditions, in mud huts or poorly built houses.
Our Bibles and Rice appeal fits well into our strategy to support these in Kandhamal with some life-saving packs for those that are poor and hungry.
“The planned distribution of these relief items in 2018 will greatly encourage and send a message that the body of Christ in Australia is one with them and feeling their pain.” Our national contact in India shared with us.
“That is why I would say this appeal will greatly encourage them. These believers cannot fight and claim what they need from the local government being on their own land. They are without a voice and continually struggling.”
Today we are their voice to you. We share their struggles with you and ask you to pray for the ongoing work in India despite the major opposition which is taking place throughout the country. The Indian government is wanting to silence their voice, we however will not allow our brothers and sisters to be silenced. We are their voice and through Bibles and Rice we will support them and attend to their cries.
Bibles and Rice
Priscila who is now 40 years of age told us her husband and father of her three children had been killed during the riots which occurred in 2008. Without the main breadwinner providing for the family, Priscila has found it difficult to care for and feed her children. Every day she struggles to find enough food to sustain her family and the thought of starting the day with breakfast has become a distant memory rather than a reality.
However, there is hope. With our Bibles and Rice appeal, VOM will be able to put some rice on their table. This will encourage the children to attend school, not with an empty stomach but full, happy and able to learn.
Priscila said “I am praying with a thankful heart for the grace for the needs of others to be met like mine have. The gift of my own Bible is a reminder of the importance of God in my life and in the life of my family.”
There are many families like Priscila’s who are hungry not only for physical food but also for food able to feed their soul. Throughout many persecuted nations, that hunger has come to our attention.
For this campaign, Voice of the Martyrs will focus on three persecuted countries: Nigeria, Vietnam and India where Bibles and Rice will make its greatest impact. Christians residing in each of these countries have a story to tell and like Priscila, the believers testify of their hunger to see God supply their every need.
VOM is committed to reaching out to help our Christian brothers and sisters and sustain them through times of difficulty. This will be achieved by distributing Bibles and Rice as an act of our love for them.
Rice Facts: Rice has nutritional benefits and is abundant in carbohydrates. It acts as fuel for the body and aids in the normal functioning of the brain. Carbohydrates are metabolised by the body and turn into functional, usable energy. The vitamins, minerals, and organic components in rice increase the functioning and metabolic activity of the body’s systems, which further increases energy levels. Rice is also the preferred carbohydrate source for the people of Nigeria, Vietnam and India.
Bible Facts: The Word of God contains the vital spiritual nutrients we need every day to grow in Christ. “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious” 1 Peter 2:1-3.
The Bible contains life within its pages and when read on a regular basis it feeds our inner hunger and sets our mind on the promises of God.
Please join with us to feed the hungry by giving to our special Bibles and Rice appeal.
Donate to Bibles and Rice