A Land of Contradiction and Contrast

February 26, 2009

Christian Aid received the following praise report from a ministry leader in Vietnam:

"As you may remember, the Vietnamese government has been consistently ranked as one of the harshest persecutors of Christians in the world. During the past year, the government made a sudden change to its policy in certain areas. In most* areas, tribal house churches are now allowed. But in order to become legal, they must register with the government. A listing of the names of all church members must also be registered. And the churches have to get prior approval from the government for specific activities. This allows the government to closely monitor the churches."

Nevertheless, the ministry used this time of "freedom" for traveling into remote areas. "One of my most gratifying experiences was the ability to speak in areas previously prohibited from worshipping God at all," he told us.

*Other areas did not fare as well. In some provinces, believers are still being persecuted not only by the government, but also by Buddhists. Rural areas suffer the most. When the communist government was criticized for this, it categorically denied any such restrictions or treatment. One remote tribe has been experiencing severe persecution for over five years. They are tortured, injured and their homes are destroyed and burned. Pastor Z expressed his sadness, "They are still living a nightmare. The government has done nothing to effect actual change in the treatment of Christians. Without outside accountability and a free press, we do not expect a remedy."