Vietnam is home to more than 50 ethnic minorities, each with its own unique language and culture. The Kinh group is the largest, making up about 86 percent of the country’s 91 million people. Most of the business owners, educated people and political leaders are Kinh.
The “minority people,” as the majority Kinhs would refer to the rest of the ethnic groups, make up the labour force, employed as hired hands in factories and farmlands. Some of them own a small piece of land where they can grow crops, but this is easily lost if they do either of these two things: fight for emancipation or follow Christ.
Government Decree 92 requires adherents of certain beliefs to apply for official permission from the People’s Commune before they gather for religious activities. For the one million tribal believers in Vietnam, this means informing and getting the approval of the local authorities before they worship, pray and fellowship on a Sunday.
A pastor of a tribal house church, Vanh, told Open Doors: “We submit an application every time. We draw up a list of the people attending. We also inform them of the schedule … activities, how many days. Then, they give us verbal approval.”
To obtain an official permit for his house church to continually exist and operate, Pastor Vanh must follow a different set of rules and satisfy the requirements of religious officials at the provincial and district levels.
“If house churches want to register,” says another tribal pastor, Moan, “they have to spend a lot of time and effort. And it takes many years. If the church leader is weak, he may give up and just continue gathering [in secret] without permit.”
That is what some tribal pastors have done, with dire consequences. Recently, two house churches in north Vietnam were raided, their members dispersed, the Bibles confiscated and a pastor was beaten using bricks.
However, the minority people groups in Vietnam are hungry for the gospel, and there has been significant growth in numbers attending the house churches over the last three years.The resulting need of leaders to shepherd these new believers is a problem for the small house churches … but a problem that they are excited about and determined to work hard to solve.
- Give thanks for the growth of the house churches in Vietnam, and for the growing hunger for the Gospel amongst the minority groups.
- Pray for the church in Vietnam, as it seeks to find, train and equip leaders for new house churches and to shepherd and disciple the new believers.
- Pray for good relationships between the house churches and government officials, that they will get permission to meet together without problems, and that rules governing registration of churches will be relaxed.
- Pray for protection over Vietnamese believers, as they are regarded with suspicion by the government and others in the communities.
Acts 5 vs 14: “Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women”