How many Christians are there in Vietnam?
There are 9.2 million Christians in Vietnam, from a population of over 99 million. Most of the population is Buddhist.
How are Christians persecuted in Vietnam?
The level of persecution Vietnamese Christians experience may depend on their particular denomination or background. Historical Christian communities (like Roman Catholic churches) enjoy a certain amount of freedom – unless they become politically active, which can lead to the imprisonment of church leaders. But non-traditional Protestants, along with converts from indigenous religions, often face intense pressure and violence for their faith, especially in the remote areas of central and northern Vietnam. Christians are harassed in the workplace and may face discrimination for their faith, while Christian children are ostracised at school and may be pressured to reject their faith.
Since religion is closely identified with ethnicity in these regions, leaving a traditional belief for Christianity is seen as wholesale rejection of culture and community. Most believers belong to the country’s ethnic communities, like the Hmong, and face social exclusion, discrimination and attacks. Their homes are sometimes destroyed, and they are then forced to leave their villages. Sometimes, the local communities will leverage the absolute power of the local communist government to persecute Christians who stray outside of the traditional belief system.
Some Christian women, particularly converts and those in tribal cultures, may be forced into early marriages. Indeed, these marriages cause some women to give up their Christian faith or stop practising it.
Christian men in Vietnam may face discrimination and harassment at work or lose their jobs. Because men are the primary providers in Vietnam, this loss paralyses the whole family economically and weakens their place within society. If they are church leaders, their congregations may even face closure. Christian men in Vietnam are targets for faith-based arrest and abduction, causing many to flee their villages. Generally, once in custody, Christian detainees suffer harsh treatment, physical beatings and pressure to renounce their Christian faith.
“My parents still despise me and have renounced me as their child.”Poh, a Christian from the Hmong ethnic community
What's life like for Christians in Vietnam?
Poh* is a Hmong believer from Vietnam who was attacked by his father for boldly proclaiming his faith. Like many converts belonging to ethnic minorities, his new faith was seen as a betrayal of his identity. He and his wife Mai (name changed), and their two children, were forced to leave the village.
Thanks to Open Doors supporters, local partners were able to buy a piece of land for Poh to build a new home for his family. Recently, Open Doors partners returned to see how Poh is doing.
“I thank God for His grace and blessings,” Poh says. “My family and I have been experiencing a more stable life now that we are living in a Christian community and with our house just nearby the church.”
But, like many converts in Vietnam, he is no longer able to see his family: “A few months ago, I went back to my old village to visit my parents and siblings, but my family and the villagers still hate me - they forbade me from going near them. My parents still despise me and have renounced me as their child.”
*Name changed for security reasons
How can I help Christians in Vietnam?
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Vietnam. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors partners support the Vietnamese church through advocacy, relief and practical aid, biblical training and discipleship programmes.
Heavenly Father, keep Your children in Vietnam safe, provide for all their needs, and open up opportunities to have 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. Soften the hearts of local leaders towards Christians, to the extent that it influences the way others treat Christians. Amen.