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