What does persecution look like in Vietnam?
For many Christians in Vietnam, following Jesus can bring intense hostility and even violence. While historical Christian communities, like Roman Catholic churches, enjoy some freedom, both non-traditional Protestants and those who convert from indigenous religions face intense pressure and violence for their faith, especially in the remote areas of central and northern Vietnam.
Most believers belong to ethnic minority groups, like the Hmong, and face social exclusion, discrimination and attacks. Their homes are sometimes destroyed and they are forced to leave their villages. Church meetings face constant surveillance and frequent raids.
The past year has seen a slight drop in pressure on believers from their families and local communities. However, there has also been an increase in violent attacks on believers and church buildings, and in the number of church leaders arrested. But despite such intense pressure to renounce Jesus, many hold on to their newfound faith with remarkable courage.
Who is most vulnerable to persecution?
Converts from a Buddhist or ethnic-animist background face the most severe persecution, not only from the authorities, but also from their families, friends and neighbors.
Christians who live in so-called "Communist villages" are also vulnerable. Since most of them belong to ethnic minorities like the Hmong, the Communist authorities are particularly suspicious of them. Ethnic minorities tend to live in parts of central and northwest Vietnam.
“The authorities had no choice but to allow me to live out my faith, but they warned me to stop evangelising. But they cannot stop me. I did not follow their demands. They cannot stop the gospel from being shared. However, I only evangelised in secret. Many of the Christians in my village now became believers because I was stubborn."Xuan
What has changed this year?
The change in Vietnam's ranking has been caused by a slight reduction in hostility in private, family and community life. However, there was a marginal increase in reported incidents of violence. Tighter regulations on online communication are also restricting and limiting the space Christians enjoy even further. Broadly speaking, following Jesus in Vietnam continues to bring acute challenges to many believers.
While the leadership change shattered some long-held assumptions about the process of finding new leaders, a White Book on Religions and Religious Policy, published in March 2023, showed that little is likely to change in future for Christians and other religious minorities, revealing the regressive attitude of the respective government agency.
What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Vietnam?
Open Doors works through local partners to strengthen persecuted believers in Vietnam by providing relief and practical aid, advocacy support, Christian resources, leadership and discipleship training, and socio-economic development projects.
How can you pray for Vietnam?
- Pray for Christians from ethnic minorities - that God would protect them and strengthen them to stand firm in their faith.
- Pray that the country's Communist leaders would open their hearts to the Christian community and allow them to worship freely.
- Ask that Open Doors partners will be strengthened and encouraged as they serve our persecuted family in Vietnam.
Father God, thank You for our family in Vietnam, and for the ways in which You are moving in and through them. Keep them strong in their faith and help them as they face different challenges; may they hold onto You and not lose heart. We pray that You'd also meet all their needs and heal all their hurt. Soften the hearts of local authorities who see Christians as a threat to their communities, and give them personal encounters with believers that shift their perspective and behavior. Encourage our Vietnamese sisters and brothers today, and refresh their spirits. Amen.