There are 8.9 million Christians in Buddhist-majority Vietnam, from a population of over 98 million.
What does persecution look like in Vietnam?
In Vietnam, the level of persecution a believer faces depends on their denomination or background. Historical Christian communities like Roman Catholics enjoy a certain amount of freedom, although they may be imprisoned if they become politically active.
Large plots of land owned by Catholic churches (for example, surrounding schools or convents) are sometimes confiscated by the state for development purposes.
The most intense persecution is reserved for non-traditional Protestants and converts from indigenous religions, especially in the remote areas of central and northern Vietnam. The majority belong to the country’s ethnic minorities, like the Hmong, and face social exclusion, discrimination and attacks.
Homes are sometimes destroyed, forcing Christians to leave their villages. In several cases, Christians fled abroad and claimed asylum (for example, in neighbouring Cambodia), only to be sent back due to Vietnamese pressure.
There is pressure on all Christians, particularly in light of strong communist rhetoric. Outspoken Christians can be arrested, and believers are often viewed with suspicion. Converts and Protestants in rural areas tend to encounter the most acute persecution; they could face harassment, discrimination, social exclusion and attack because of their decision to follow Jesus.
“We have become converts for a long time now. We have received healing and blessing from our Lord. He has changed our lives. We will not deny our faith as you have demanded.”Ai and Liem
What has changed compared to last year?
Pressure on Christians has increased in almost every area of life. The new regulations on religion, implemented from Jan. 1, 2018 onwards, have added another source of uncertainty (although on paper they looked like an improvement). Tighter regulations on online communication have restricted and limited the space Christians enjoy even further. Pressure and violence against Christians belonging to ethnic minority groups continue unchanged.
Through local church partners, Open Doors supports Vietnamese believers by providing Christian literature, leadership and discipleship training, socio-economic development projects, advocacy and relief aid.
- Pray that the suspicion aimed towards Christians by national and local authorities will ease, and be replaced with an appreciation of their value to society.
- Ask that believers under pressure to renounce their faith will have the strength to cling to Jesus; may this stance powerfully speak to their neighbours and communities.
- Pray that young Christians will grow in their love of Jesus, their understanding of the gospel and appreciation for the Bible, giving them a foundation for life.
Heavenly Father, keep Your children in Vietnam safe, provide for all their needs, and open up opportunities to fellowship with other Christians. Help believers to stand firm in their faith despite often tremendous pressure, and use their witness to inspire others to give their lives to Jesus. Work in the hearts of local leaders, that their hearts will soften towards Christians and will influence the way others treat Christians. Amen.