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« on: November 20, 2004, 11:39:00 PM »

Vietnam's Church Thriving Despite Intensified Persecution

by Allie Martin
November 17, 2004

(AgapePress) - A representative of a ministry to the persecuted Church says Christianity is growing at a rapid rate in Vietnam, despite increased harassment from government officials.

This past Sunday marked the annual International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, and the observance could not come at a more critical time for believers in Vietnam. Earlier this year, more than 100 Christians were killed by government forces during a protest in the highlands of that Communist-controlled country.

Jerry Dykstra of Open Doors USA says Christianity is spreading, even as persecution increases in Vietnam. There, he says, 1.2 million evangelical Christians are part of a movement that is "just exploding for the Lord," even in the midst of oppression.

"House churches are exploding," Dykstra says. "I mean there is tremendous growth of Christianity in Vietnam. There's one house church where we've gotten reports that there are 2,000 members."

The Open Doors spokesman says it is important for believers in the United States to contact the Bush administration and remind their government officials of the human rights abuses being inflicted on Christians by Vietnamese authorities. In the meantime, he notes, there are many things American Christians can do.

For instance, Dykstra says, "We need to pray. Also, there's six Mennonite church leaders who are now in prison in Vietnam, and we need to write them and support them. And we have to make our protests known to the government."

In view of the plight of such Christian detainees and the lamentable fate of the 100 Christians that were killed in the highlands last Easter, Dykstra says it is essential that Christians not only pray but act. He urges believers in the free world to become voices and advocates for those brothers and sisters who live out their faith in places where religious liberty does not exist.


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