Fr Joseph Trần Sy Tin spent a life spent doing mission in the diocese of Kontum (west-central Vietnam) among tribal Jarai. The Redemptorist priest has lived in the area since 1969 and for almost 50 years has accompanied the local population in its journey of faith.
A few days ago, Fr Joseph met with priests, religious and faithful in the diocese, and spoke about the story of his mission.
The first village where Fr Joseph Trần Sy Tin settled was to Pleikly. Together with three other Redemptorist priests, he founded the “Group for going out” (Nhóm Ra Đi), whose purpose was to “go out” to live among ethnic minorities who have not yet known Jesus.
“When we arrived in Pleikly,” said Fr Joseph, “we had no house to stay in and did not know anyone in the village. We started to study the Jarai language and visit families to make friends. We ate with them and practised the language.”
At harvest time, “we asked the villagers if we could go into the field to work with them. Sometimes we had lunch together in the rice fields. At evening, we came back home with them and often had dinner together.”
After a period of working together, one night the village chief acknowledged them for the first time. “As we ate dinner around the fire, he told us: ‘We took care of our people for years, as regards food, clothing and housing. But no one had ever spoken of the spirit, of good and evil, of happiness. You need to tell us these things.’”
The 1970s were the hardest for Fr Joseph’s mission because the war reached the villages of Kontum. In 1971 the priest was arrested along with a companion by Communist authorities and was sent to near the border with Cambodia, where he lived with poor people suffering from malaria.
After the end of the war (1975), the priest thought that no one would follow Christianity. However, by 1988, many people from ethnic minorities began to be baptised. By 2000, Fr Joseph had baptised a thousand people in the mountains, mostly ethnic Jarai.
The new believers were unable to attend Mass regularly because the Communist authorities imposed restrictive exit permits from the villages. Yet, by 2005, beleivers were present in more than 90 villages.
Fr Joseph’s mission relies heavily on the laity whose role is a priority according to the priest. Without them, there is no real mission.
Indeed, the faithful themselves have to proclaim the Good News everywhere, accepting the risks that it entails. Over the years, Fr Tin has trained small groups of lay missionaries.
The clergyman is now the vicar of Pleichuet parish, which has 1,400 members. The Redemptorists also run mission centres in Cheoreo Tolui and Pleichuet Pleikly that, together with the parishes, have more than 24,000 believers.
- Give thanks for the work of Fr Joseph and the other priests and local Christians in Vietnam.
- Pray for protection for Vietnam’s believers and the Church there, as they regularly suffer persecution and oppression for their faith. Pray for perseverance of faith, and for their witness to continue to draw many people to know Jesus.
- Pray for access to good discipleship and training materials for the Vietnamese Church.
- Pray that God will continue to bring fruit for His kingdom through the lives of His people in this needy nation.
Acts 5 vs 14: “Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women,”
Source: http://www.asianews.it/news-en, http://www.persecution.org