Persecuted, but not Forsaken

Christians are quick to rebuild temporary structures to hold meetings.

A repressive communist regime has been seeking to stamp out Christianity in Vietnam for decades. As in China, however, persecution has not succeeded in thwarting the growth of zealous, witnessing churches.

Even though the country was closed to foreign missions in 1975, men and women are coming to faith in remarkable numbers today. Indigenous missionaries assisted by Christian Aid are teaching and shepherding hundreds of gatherings of Vietnamese tribal people. They do so with conviction, courage and at great personal cost.

One leader who had oversight of more than 900 churches has paid a steep price for his commitment to the gospel. He has spent more than two years imprisoned in a 4 x 8 foot box with a window for feeding and a hole for a toilet. Brokenhearted, he learned that his wife was subjected to the same indignities in a prison box near his. Her imprisonment, however, actually served to bolster his faith, when he overheard the hope in her voice as she sang, "His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me."

Many believers' homes and meeting halls were burned to the ground by authorities.

Another pastor and his congregation of over 500 cut their own lumber and built a beautiful meeting hall. But communist authorities tore it down. Within three days the church congregation put up a simple bamboo structure in its place, but authorities have threatened to destroy it, as well.

A pastor of a house church has learned that persecution can come from one's own family. His father is a decorated leader in the communist party. After the young pastor confessed his allegiance to the One True God, his father threw a homemade firebomb into his yard. Although the son desires to honor his father, he remains stalwart in his commitment to preaching the Word.

After spending seven years in prison for preaching Christ, a tribal pastor was finally released. Instead of retreating into the safety of seclusion and anonymity, he chose to reenter a Bible training center to be strengthened. Such training centers supported by Christian Aid, are giving pastors the tools and knowledge they need to fortify Vietnamese Christians to stand firm and share their faith. They are living out what Paul described to the Corinthians: They ". . . are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed," knowing that their affliction is preparing them for an "eternal weight of glory" (II Corinthians 4: 8-9, 17).