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Inside a Vietnamese Prison

Prison cell in Asia

The previous post told about a pastor in Vietnam who spent time in prison because of his work for the Lord.

Read below about conditions in Vietnamese prisons and try the activity. You can find the activity and more about Christians in Vietnam in Bold Believers in Vietnam, available in the Downloads section.

Outside Work
Some Christian prisoners in Vietnam are forced to make bricks or to work in the fields outside the prison 12 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week. They get very little food, and guards may beat them if they don’t work fast enough. “But they’d rather go outside, because inside is even worse,” said one Christian.

Crowded Cells
The prison cells are dark, crowded, and noisy. Larger cells hold 100 or more people. In smaller cells, six to eight people may be kept in a space about 8 feet by 10 feet. The prisoners don’t have mattresses, blankets, or pillows. Sometimes they are not allowed to have Bibles.

Try This
Mark off an 8-foot by 10-foot empty space. Stay in the space with five other people for about 15 to 20 minutes. Talk about where you would sleep and how you would live if you had to stay in the space all the time. Pray for those in prison for Christ. Share any Scriptures you could recite if you didn’t have access to a Bible.

To Talk About
If you had to live in a Vietnamese prison, what would you say about life there? Read below what some Vietnamese prisoners said about their time in prison.

*“Being in prison gave me more time to have a deeper relationship with God.”

*“I learned more about the true values of life.”

*“It was an honor to serve the Lord in this way.”

*“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.”


Vietnam: A Good Example

Emmanuel spent much of his free time lifting weights. He traveled from province to province in Vietnam competing in bodybuilding contests. (A province is like a state.)

Emmanuel’s father was a pastor, and Emmanuel grew up resenting his father’s time away from his family ministering to others. When Emmanuel was 11, his father went to prison for three years because of his Christian activities. Then Emmanuel was even more angry.

“Sometimes I didn’t even want to visit my father in prison,” he said.

Several years later, after his father was released, Emmanuel served as his dad’s bodyguard at ministry events in dangerous parts of Vietnam. Emmanuel’s training as a bodybuilder had made him strong and confident. Emmanuel began to see not only his dad at work in ministry, but also God at work.

“I did not realize the importance of ministry,” Emmanuel said. “I intended to go with my father to protect him and just do ordinary work. But later God showed me what I had been through was the way He was training me for my future in ministry.”

Today Emmanuel admires his father’s faithfulness in leading people to trust in Christ. “He left us a good name,” Emmanuel said. “He has been a good example to follow.”

Now Emmanuel visits villages and shares the gospel with tribal people who worship false gods. He often is away from his wife and daughter as he travels. And, like his father, he has been persecuted by the police. “My ministry is the same as my father’s was,” said Emmanuel. “I live more for God now.”

(Source: The February 2019 issue of The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter. Photo: Emmanuel. His eyes are covered to protect his identity from those who might want to harm him.)

To Talk About
*Why was Emmanuel angry with his father?
*How do you think Emmanuel’s daughter feels about his being away from home so often? Will you pray for her?
*Who are the good examples in your life?


Vietnam: Anh-Tu’s Courage

Vietnamese girl

“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).

Anh-Tu was a student at a public school in Vietnam. There were 5,000 students at her school. Most of them were Buddhist. Buddhists do not believe that Jesus is the way to salvation and eternal life.

“At school, if you talked about Jesus, you wouldn’t get any friends,” Anh-Tu said. “Teachers and students said bad things about Christianity in front of me. The teachers taught that there is no God. They said the Bible is a novel.” (A novel is a book that tells a story that did not really happen.)

One day, Anh-Tu had to give a speech at an assembly in front of the whole school. She decided to talk about Jesus in her speech. She did not know what might happen to her if she talked about her faith in front of so many people who did not know Jesus.

“After the speech, God had changed my teacher,” said Anh-Ju. “She told me she wanted to find out more about Christianity. She was still never friendly to me. But she quit saying bad things about Christianity.

“Everything is a choice,” said Anh-Tu. She chose Jesus over school friends, friendly teachers, and freedom from persecution.

To Think About: If you were Anh-Tu, what would you have chosen? Would you have told people at your school about your faith? Or would you have kept it to yourself?

(Source: Kids of Courage archives)


Recipes from Vietnam

Rice and banana pudding

Eggs and Onions
Fry one chopped onion in 1 tbsp. oil. Separately, mix 3 eggs, 1 chopped green onion, and 2 tsp. fish sauce. Add the mixture to the pan with the fried onion and scramble. Serve hot with rice.

Rice and Banana Pudding
Combine and bring to a boil 2 sliced bananas, ½ cup water, 3 tbsp. honey, 1 tsp. vanilla, and ½ tsp. cinnamon. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in 1½ cups of cooked brown rice, 1 15-to 20-ounce can of pineapple tidbits (drained), and 1 cup of coconut milk (or plain milk). Return to a boil, then simmer 5 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Learn more about life in Vietnam and bold Vietnamese believers from these resources:
Bold Believers in Vietnam, available in the free Downloads section.
Restricted Nations: Vietnam available at VOMBooks.com


Persevering Christians

Do you know what a backhoe is? (See the photo above.)

Backhoes can:
*Dig a trench
*Plow snow
*Remove brush and trash

Can you think of any other jobs a backhoe can do?

Non-Christian officials in a village in Vietnam had another idea. They used a backhoe to push village Christians’ houses into a river. The Christians became homeless. They moved to another area and set up tents to live in.

The Christians were farmers, but the land where they moved was not suitable for farming. But with hard work and God’s help, the Christians were able to grow crops on the land.

Even though they are in difficult circumstances and must work hard to take care of their families, the Christians still take time to talk to people in the area and tell them about Jesus! A VOM worker said, “Thank God for their perseverance, and pray that He will continue to meet their needs.”

To Talk About
*What is perseverance? How did the Christians in Vietnam show perseverance?
*Have you ever thanked God for the good example provided by faithful persecuted Christians?