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International Peacemaker from Vietnam faces significant challenges


Manh Nguyen is leading people to Christ in communist country

November 26, 2017

Manh Nguyen, 2017 Presbyterian International Peacemaker. (Photo provided)

Building a church and its membership from the ground up is no small feat. Doing it in a country that persecutes members of your faith makes it doubly difficult. But the Rev. Manh Nguyen, pastor of Evangelical Community Church in Hanoi, Vietnam, continues to grow his church despite a government that frowns upon religion.

The Vietnamese Law on Belief and Religion, which takes effect Jan. 1, regulates procedures and conditions regarding people’s beliefs. Proponents claim it offers everyone the right to experience religious practices and attend religious events. Critics claim it restricts religious freedom. Faith-based groups must register with government authorities and inform them of their activities, and authorities have the right to refuse the activity.

“Vietnam is still a communist country; it’s not Christian-friendly,” Nguyen said. “Christians still face violence and persecution in Vietnam and the government doesn’t want people to be evangelized, so that’s a challenge. We have to lead people to Christ.”

Nguyen, who studied theology in the Philippines, returned to Vietnam in 2011 to work as a minister. With the help of his wife, he started Evangelical Community Church in Hanoi about three years ago. Vietnam, which reunified in 1975 after the war, features a Christian population estimated to be between 2 and 5 percent of the total population, with the majority living in the South, where there is more freedom for pastors to evangelize. Despite the obstacles faced by Vietnamese Christians, their numbers appear to be on the rise. Some of that growth comes from working with tribal people and ethnic minorities.

“The evangelical church in Vietnam is growing right now, but it is still far from what we hope it to be, or want it to be,” Nguyen said. “We can see that God’s hand is moving among the Vietnamese and more people are open to the gospel, particularly young people who are searching for the truth. Once they have an opportunity to hear Christ, they are opening their hearts to accept him into their life.”

Nguyen is one of 15 International Peacemakers who recently visited churches and organizations across the country to share their experiences from their native countries. Since 1984, more than 300 International Peacemakers from as many as 57 countries have been hosted by 160 Presbyterian organizations.

“Many people have different approaches to helping others; for me, I try to bring people to Christ,” Nguyen said. “Christ will set them free from the slavery of sins. In all my works and efforts, I try my best to introduce Christ to the Vietnamese people; that is the main purpose of my life.”

Scott O’Neill, Communications Associate, Project Management, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus:  International Peacemaker from Vietnam

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Donald Walker, BOP
Judy Walton, PILP

Let us pray:

God of mercy and love, may our people in Vietnam continue to grow in faith and numbers, and may your abundant provisions be visible to all, to your praise and glory. Amen.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, November 26, 2017, Christ the King (Reign of Christ) Sunday (Year A)

First Reading Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Psalm 100:1-5
Second Reading Ephesians 1:15-23
Gospel Matthew 25:31-46

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