Christianity in Vietnam
Topic: Gospel History
Roman Catholicism arrived in Vietnam in the 16th century, and around 8 per cent of Vietnamese are Catholic. Protestant mission began in 1911 and the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (ECVN) was established in 1929.
In 1975 there were 154,000 evangelical Christians. But after the war, when communism unified Vietnam, more than half of the ECVN churches were closed and all missionaries were ordered to leave. The authorities saw Christianity as counter-revolutionary and a potential threat, and so came persecution. Believers were imprisoned, particularly among the underground church which sprang up due to the restrictions on worship. Few foreigners were able to enter the country until the 1980s when the change of economic policy, doi moi [renovation], came into effect. None the less, Christianity grew by 900 per cent to an estimated 1.2 million believers by 2002 and as many as 2 million today.
Government restrictions continue today, being more severe in the central highlands and northern regions, where there are fewer registered churches; even in Hanoi, the capital city, there is only one ECVN church, though a number of small house churches have emerged. In the south there are fewer government restrictions, with about 285 registered ECVN churches, 49 of them in Ho Chi Minh City, and thousands of smaller house churches, and many are now receiving official registration. There are over 70 denominations in Vietnam, with great diversity amongst them.
A great majority of evangelical believers in Vietnam belong to ethnic minority groups – figures suggest up to 50 per cent of believers are Hmong. Bibles are available in Vietnam, though mainly a 1926 translation with archaic language. In the last few years, permission to publish other literature has become much easier to obtain and some new translations and other books are gradually emerging. There is a great lack of good quality, Vietnamese appropriate materials for discipling to a deep and mature faith.
- Pray for churches to grow in numbers and in depth, and for new witness in towns and villages unreached by the gospel.
- Praise for the growth of the Church in Vietnam, pray for continued perseverance in the face of persecution.
- Pray for more good quality Christian resources, and for the production and distribution of materials.