|Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer|
Vietnam – Nationalist gangs terrorise Christian community
Gangs of nationalist youths have terrorised a Christian community in Song Ngoc, north-east Vietnam, attacking a church and homes and targeting Christian business owners. Following weeks of intimidation and low-level violence, church leaders appealed to authorities saying, “we see that the attacks have been carried out in an orchestrated manner, and the police know well what is occurring, but are ignoring what is going on”. Some of the perpetrators called for the expulsion of two church leaders, who are helping impoverished local fisherman in a legal case against the government following a marine pollution disaster in April last year.
Vietnam’s communist government cracks down ruthlessly on dissent and Christians are viewed as enemies of the one-party state. All churches are required to be officially registered with the authorities. In November 2016, the government passed a new religion law which was hailed by state media as guaranteeing religious freedom, although the vague legislation banning any religious activity that could “harm social order and/or national unity” seems likely to give authorities leeway to crack down on religious freedom where it is deemed to be against the interests of the state.
Pray that the peace of God will guard the hearts and minds of the Christian community in Song Ngoc (Philippians 4:7), even as they face harassment and violence. Ask the Lord to give church leaders strength as they stand against the government for the rights of poor fishermen. Pray that the courage of these men of God will cause non-Christians to realise that their boldness – like that of Peter and John – comes from being with Jesus (Acts 4:13).