Fifteen years after a Vietnamese ordinance promised freedom of religion, a new Christian dares not speak of Christ in his own village, while another receives a machete blow to the face for his faith.
In Son La Province in northwest Vietnam, residents of an undisclosed village earlier this year tried to warn a new Christian, Thanh Vu*, not to preach. Undaunted, Vu was telling a fellow villager about Christ when a man came up and struck him across his cheek, eye and forehead with a machete, the leader of an indigenous ministry said.
“He was told that if he talked about God, he would be in big trouble,” the leader said. “He continued anyway, and a man came up to him with a machete and struck him on the spot.”
Vu survived with stitches sewn across a swollen face. Most Christians, knowing such hostilities could erupt from hard-line Buddhists and worshippers of ancestors and nature, speak of Christ with extreme caution. While local police and Communist officials harass and arrest Christians whose worship becomes too large or noticeable, pressures from tribe, family and clan present the greatest challenge.
Intense local pressure has to be overcome just to speak to people about Christ.
“You must have a connection and be invited to a village in order to share Christ there,” the leader said. “It’s always a challenge.”
Connections to a key contact in another village can come about in various ways. Flea markets where people from different villages mingle is one way to make new friends that can result in an invitation. Relatives and friends who have moved away also commonly serve as contacts.
Recently a Hmong pastor was able to reach out to an old high school friend from the same tribe who lived in another village, the ministry leader said. Walking or biking two or three miles through rough and uneven terrain, the pastor made several visits to his high school friend and reconnected with him and his family.
After several weeks he was able to invite the friend to his church, and after visiting the pastor’s worship service each week for two months, the friend and his family put their faith in Christ, the leader said.
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SOURCE: Christian Aid Mission