Last month I received the monthly newsletter from Voice of Martyrs in the mail. The stories of the current persecution against Christians are always heart wrenching and convicting. I was reminded again of how easy and blessed we have it here in America. Yes, sometimes our family or friends may mock or reject us. We may lose our jobs if we stand up for our beliefs and refuse to lie or cheat. But we still never face the types of persecution that our Brothers and Sisters across the world suffer everyday. Communism (atheism), Buddhism, and Islam seem to be the biggest persecutors. If you’re interested in finding out more or receiving their monthly newsletter or email prayer alerts, visit their website: http://persecution.com
The main story in this month’s newsletter was the persecution in Vietnam. It was touching enough (especially about the 14 yr old evangelistic that was jailed!), that I’m going to type it out verbatim to share it with you. Here is also a link to an online video (I haven’t watched this yet because my computer speakers aren’t hooked up).
“Vietnam’s Most Wanted”
by Dr. Tom White
On Dec. 14, 2010, the bulldozer moved in to destroy the Mennonite Bible School in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. The Communist government mobilized 100 policemen to form a half-kilometer-wide ring around the area, adding a few hundred more inside the area. Two policemen used an electric cattle prod on the back of the school’s director, Pastor Hong Quang Nguyen, after typing his hands behind him.
Satan’s conspiracies are always threatened by effective Christianity. When the Bible school was destroyed, the boys’ dormitory eight blocks away was destroyed at the same time. All of the houses between the school and the dormitory were left intact. Later, high-ranking police officers met with area pastors and threatened them not to work with Pastor Quang.
A few weeks before the school’s destruction, 28 students had graduated, becoming the first graduating class of the three-year curriculum. Two-thirds of these students are from the Jorai, Bahnar, Hre, Kor, Steing and Hmong tribal groups. Vietnamese Christian leaders report, “The graduates speak the Word of God powerfully and set up new groups of believers.”
Hiding under the communist propaganda of preserving “national unity,” the government had tried many times to scatter the Bible students. In another location established befoe 1996 in Ho Chi Minh City, police demolished the first Mennonite Bible School established by Pastor Quang. They also confiscated a thousand Christian books, tapes and DVDs. They conducted three raids, until the school was moved in 2007. It existed for 3 years in its new location until it was bulldozed last Dec. 14.
In order to understand the nature of this spiritual battle, we interviewed a student who was chosen to go to Pastor Quang’s school. Now in her third year of full-time study, she has been persecuted since she was 14 years old. Here is the testimony of this young woman “Rachael,” from the highlands.
14 Year-Old Evangelist in Jail
I am the youngest in my home. My father is a farmer. We are a tribal group who live in the highlands. We have a small house which we dedicate to the Lord. It is a meeting place. When I was about 6 years old I believed, just listening to my dad sharing the Bible.
Since I heard the Word of God in John 3:16, I liked the Word very much and started to go and share with the children. The Lord has protected me many times. I would often stand there in front of the children, sing for them a song, then start to share the Bible story from Genesis–not only in my village, but also in other villages. I also shared with teenagers, riding on my bicycle. The police would follow me on their motorcycles.
When I was 14, one morning many army people came into my home to threaten many people–not only myself, but many others. “If you do not stop worshiping God, and continue on worshiping God like this, one day we will come to arrest you.”
When they finally came, just before Christmas, I was with 20 children inside the house. Everyone was sitting on the dirt floor. I was teaching the children to sing and sharing the Word with them.
They came on many motorbikes wearing their uniforms. The children were very terrified. Some children stayed there with me; some cried and ran home. I was very terrified. I saw that many of them came with guns, clubs, different things…so I hid in my room.
They found me and put me in the back of a small truck.
Some people in my village said, “Why do you arrest her?” The police replied, “We arrested her because she broke the law.”
As we left the village, I could see motorbikes following behind us. They carried their long guns and also electric batons.
Before I was arrested, I had gone to visit Pastor Quang’s house down in Ho Chi Minh to study the Word because the villagers would always have questions about God. The authorities don’t want the people to worship like we worship–they don’t want the people to worship God, because they really want Vietnam to become a Buddhist country. So the Lord called me to go like an apostle-so even though I am small and young, still the police felt like I am the one against them.
When we came to the police office, I was very afraid and I prayed to God. I was suspicious of the food and would not eat it. Then after about three days, the police saw that I was very tired. So they started to go out and bring bread to me.
I was placed in a jail cell with one woman and two men. They asked me what I did wrong. I talked to them, witnessing to them. The police said, “The state has been feeding you since you were small [communist ideology], so now why do you turn on us?”
During my month in the jail, no one came to ask about me. The whole village was afraid of them. At that time my father was far away. After he heard about me being arrested, he came about three weeks later. He was not allowed to see me, but he brought me some other clothes.
In jail when I would sing, I sang praises to God, and I prayed to God. Some others there said, “She’s crazy already.”
The Lord spoke to me, reminding me of Psalm 24:4-5, which says, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” God also reminded me of what he says in Genesis 28:15, where he says he is with us wherever we go.
The police asked me, “Why did you go to Mr. Quang’s home Aren’t you afraid that they would sell you as a slave girl?” And then they tried to make me lie about many things that I didn’t see. When I refused to invent things, they beat me. The policewoman slapped me. But I fear no man, for the Lord is my shepherd, my protector, so I will not be afraid.
After one month in jail, I shared the gospel with many people. I said, “Don’t be afraid. Believe in the Lord, then you will receive peace.”
It’s not an accident that the Lord has in his plan to allow me to go through testing so that my faith can be stronger. The time the Lord allowed me to be in prison was like making my life new again. It made me really strong and bold in the Word of God.
The police had asked me to raise my arms and put nails under my feet for 15 minutes. I stood against the wall on the nails and prayed, “Lord help me.” If I slipped, they would use a rubber hose to beat my legs. I could not bear it any longer-I felt so tired. It was so painful, I fainted and fell down. I fainted for about an hour. I believe that the Lord held me up, so I could bear it.
Finally they called my father back to the police office to take me home. As we rolled into the village, I was sitting on the back on my father’s motorbike. Some villagers cried. Some were happy to welcome me.
When the older people there looked at my age and all the people in the village saw that I was very courageous, very brave, to be arrested and come back, they were no longer in fear. The villagers said, “She also loved the young ones and wants to tell them that they are the princes of God, and that they should be strong and go on with the Lord in strength.” The Lord is coming soon. You must be strong and go all over the world to share the gospel with many people no matter what color of skin we have. You have to go.
The police have continued to follow me now for six years. I also have a friend, one year older, who was put in prison like me. I met her in a different village. We dare not meet one another because each of us is being followed by the police. But one time we met and shared with each other.
This brave young woman is now studying at Pastor Quang’s Bible school. She has one year left to complete her studies. Her experience in prison as a 14-yr old enabled her to encourage her fellow students when their school was knocked down.
She said, “When some of the young Bible students see the police coming they feel very afraid. I encourage them–don’t be afraid because the Lord takes care of even your hair; not even one hair can drop out on the floor without his will. He will be with us until the end of times.”
Rachael concluded, “I want to become a lay teacher. I want to go and share the Word. I would like to go back to my village more or go to other villages to share about God’s Word. I am not afraid to be arrested again. My favorite Bible verses are John 3:16 and Psalm 23. If I am faced with persecution, difficulties, because of the Bible, I will never withdraw. I will continue on. I will never be afraid.”
Pastor Hong Quang Nguyen, her school director, understands the passage in Isaiah about ignoringn threats, and he is not afraid. Since 1979 he has been imprisioned by the Vietnamese communist authorities five times for continuing to share the Gospel. The conspiracy charges againt him have been “illegal meeting,” “opposed policemen during their duty” [they were breaking up a church service] and “illegally proclaiming the gospel.” Pastor Quang’s latest prison sentence of 3 yrs in 2005 was cut in half due to prayes and letters from our readers and those of other Christians around the world.
Pastor Quang told us that during this time, he led 50 other prisoners to Christ.
The police have arrested the bible students many times as well for sharing about Jesus and passing out tracts. Pastor Quang goes tot eh police station to secure their release. In one series of arrests, police held 50 adults and 40 Bible students for 24 hours at the police station.
The state permits only a few Bible schools in Vietnam, equal to one per 30 million Vietnamese. Other groups, meeting in apartments or houses, either bribe local police to leave them alone or remain very small, with 10-15 students totally “underground.”
Pastor Quang’s churches and Bible school are different. They are out in the open, and they are growing. They will not be muzzled like many churches that, tired of the harrassment compromise by seeking registration and stopping or slowing their evangelixm outside their church walls.
Pastor Quang states, “Registration is not freedom of religion. Those churches that have registration are still persecuted.” He has nothing to hide. Before the 3 yr old Bible school at Quang’s house church site of 12 years was destroyed, there were over 25 police visits to the school to harass them. Yet Pastor Quang cordially invited the police inside to listen to the teachers.
In 2002 Pastor Quang establised an additional program to share the love of Jesus Christ with the community: The Union of Christian Boy and Girl Scouts. These scouts of 120 members, the only scouts in Vietnam, are grouped in four levels: children, teens, youth and adults. They go out in the community quietly and respectfully to engage in acts of kindness such as cleaning up trash for a neighborhood, and they are still operating! As with the Bible school’s focus, these outreaches are not designed to be anti-government, but pro “great commission.” However, the Union of the Scouts is an additional reason why the communists are angry. Evidently the scouts are the only ones who can wear an uniform and organize in public.
In the first 3 wks after the Bible students were forced to move to a remote location outside the city, they brought 10 new souls to Christ and passed out 3,000 tracts. In between their classes, they are clearing land beside their present location to add bathrooms and dormitories. To expand the Bible school, the students –the “living stones”–are picking up broken stones. We are funding the construction of this new location.