By BosNewsLife Asia Service
HANOI, VIETNAM (BosNewsLife)– Some 2,000 people have indicated a first-time decision to follow Christ at a massive evangelistic meeting in Vietnam’s largest city that authorities almost prevented from happening, BosNewsLife learned Wednesday, January 5.
Vietnamese Christians said some 20,000 people attended the Christmas season gathering Sunday, December 26, at an an empty field in Ho Chi Minh City, just hours after the government’s Bureau of Religious Affairs gave a written permission.
Officials of the BRA in Hanoi only gave verbal permission for the event to the newly registered Vietnam Assemblies of God organization, which represents a large grouping of mostly unregistered house churches in the Vietnam Evangelical Fellowship, in early December, Christians said.
But by 11 a.m. on Christmas Day, the required permission papers had not yet been granted. After talks with Christian leaders, the BRA gave permission for a gathering of 5,000 people, but apparently many more Christians arrived. Thousands made clear they wanted to follow Christ, organizers said.
The event is seen as the latest indication that evangelical groups and churches grow, despite reported opposition from authorities and a crackdown on evangelists. In November two Christian evangelists, Ksor Y Du, 47, and Kpa Y Co, 30, were sentenced to six and four years in prison respectively for “undermining national unity,” trial observers said.
Ksor and Kpa, of the Vietnam Good News Mission (VGNM) church, received the harsh sentences on November 15. House arrest of four and two years respectively also was added to the sentences, according to church sources and Vietnam’s Phap Luat (Law) newspaper.
Both evangelists, who are of the Ede minority, live in Song Hinh district of Phu Yen Province, where there are some 20 VGNM
congregations, Christians said.
Vietnam is a communist-run nation where Christian worship is allowed within the boundaries of churches recognized by the state.