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Prisoner Surprises Letter Writers

To Dinh Trung
To Dinh Trung

To Dinh Trung, a Vietnamese Christian, was in prison in Vietnam several years ago for sharing the gospel. The Voice of the Martyrs told readers about him in the VOM magazine. Many Christians prayed for Trung and wrote letters to Vietnamese officials on his behalf.

Trung had been to prison more than 20 times. Government officials did not want him to minister among tribal groups. On one of his trips to share the gospel with members of the K’ho tribe, police officers pulled him off his bicycle and arrested him.

The prisons where Trung was locked up were miserable places. “I was in an isolation cell about two meters square,” Trung said about one of his prisons. (Two meters is about 6.5 feet.) “It was very dark and dirty with no windows. They did not allow me to bring anything inside. The mosquitoes could freely bite me. The smell was terrible. I could not bathe. I got a high fever.”

While Trung was in prison, his wife and three children were left to care for themselves. Clearly Trung had many reasons to be eager about leaving prison.

Then an unusual thing happened. Because of the concern of Christians around the world, Vietnamese officials agreed to let Trung out of prison early.

But he wasn’t ready to leave! He had taught many prisoners about God, and he felt he needed to stay and teach them more about following Christ. Perhaps the letters and prayers of other Christians strengthened him enough to remain in prison and teach the prisoners.

Trung finished his prison sentence, was released from prison, and continued to serve the Lord.

To Dinh Trung’s story is told in the book Jesus Freaks, revised and updated edition. Parents and teachers: The new Jesus Freaks is available here. Please preview the stories before sharing them with younger children.


Freedom in Prison

Prison cell in Asia

Americans celebrate their freedom on July 4th. Some people say freedom is the right to do or say what you want without anyone stopping you. People in prison are not considered free. But read below what some Vietnamese Christians said about the time they spent in prison for their faith in Christ:

  • Being in prison gave me more time to have a deeper relationship with God.
  • It was an honor to serve the Lord in this way.
  • I learned more about the true values of life.
  • Going to prison encouraged me to continue my Christian work when I got out. After being in prison, I was more willing to risk going back to prison again.
  • In prison I had the opportunity to lead my cellmates, and even guards, to Christ.

The apostle Paul said, “Because of my chains [his time in prison], most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly” (Philippians 1:14).

To Think About: In what ways were the Vietnamese prisoners freer in prison? How did Paul’s time in prison create more freedom for the gospel to spread?


Vietnam: A Birthday Prayer

The Voice of the Martyrs’ Global Prayer Guide guides Christians in praying for their Christian family around the world. Click here to find more about the guide and an interactive prayer map.

Read below what the guide says about Christians in Vietnam.

*New Christians are often evicted from their homes and villages, especially in tribal areas.
*Officially recognized churches are expected to report their activities and teachings to the government.
*All churches face government opposition when they evangelize outside church walls or attempt to conduct community events.
*Non-recognized churches, which cannot be officially registered, are in violation of the law.
*Within rural and tribal areas, new believers are targeted for harsh persecution.
*Christians are often denied social services, utilities, and schooling in an attempt to pressure them to reject Christianity.

[The president of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong, was born on April 4, 1944. Today he is 76 years old. Pray that President Trong will rule wisely and fairly.]

Distributing Bibles

The Global Prayer Guide also lists the following prayer needs for President Trong’s country.
*Pray that unbelieving relatives will not be coerced by officials to persecute Christian family members.
*Pray that believers will not be deceived by false teaching.
*Pray that new Bibles for children and youth will be read by non-Christians.
*Pray for the wisdom and safety of front-line workers who deliver Bibles to remote villages.

Learn more about Christians in Vietnam in Bold Believers in Vietnam, available in the Downloads section.

 


Double Country Word Find

Print the puzzle below. Hidden in the puzzle are the names of seven countries where Christian activities are limited in some way. Each country’s name is hidden TWICE. Look for the following countries running vertically (up and down), horizontally (across), or diagonally (slanted): Iraq, China, Nigeria, North Korea, India, Vietnam, Algeria.

N O R T H K O R E A
V I E T N A M A Z Y
N I B C C I N D I A
I I E W H T G S H A
G C G T I I W I C L
E X D E N R N R H G
R E V F R A A A I E
I N D I A I M Q N R
A L G E R I A U A I
N O R T H K O R E A

Vietnam: A Very Long “Prayer”

Bao and his wife, Chau, teach people from 10 tribal groups about Jesus. Most of the people were Buddhists or spirit worshipers before they decided to follow Christ. Tribal Christians in Vietnam face persecution from their families, communities, and government. [Photo above: Tribal Christians in Vietnam]

One day, Bao was preaching to a group of Christians in a house. “The local authorities allow believers to pray,” Bao told a VOM worker. “When you pray, you close your eyes, and it’s OK. They don’t allow you to teach or preach, so while I was preaching, I closed my eyes. That means, ‘I’m praying.’”

But Bao could not read from the Bible or sermon notes with his eyes closed. What do you suppose he did? He was prepared. He had memorized Scriptures to recite in advance to the group. With his eyes still closed, he continued his Scripture “prayer” for almost 15 minutes. More than 20 police officers armed with guns, sticks, and knives surrounded the house, but even then he didn’t stop “praying.”

“By the end of my ‘prayer,’ I felt a gun in my back,” he said. The police took Bao, Chau, the owner of the house, and three deacons to the police station and questioned them. Later they were released. Persecution must take place,” said Bao. “But in my experience, the church grew even though it faced a lot of persecution. The more persecution, the more they grow strong in their faith.”

To Talk About
Why do you think some churches grow stronger when they are persecuted?

(Source: The February 2020 The Voice of the Martyrs magazine. Edited for length and clarity.)

Learn more about Christians in Vietnam in Bold Believers in Vietnam, available in the Downloads section.