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Vietnam: Finding Happiness in Prison

Silas was in prison. His cell was about 66 feet long and about 16 feet wide. Fifty-six other men lived in the cell with Silas.

“We slept on cement platforms,” said Silas. “In the morning we ate nothing. At midday and in the evening we ate rice. This rice was cooked from moldy, rotten rice. The bowls were never full, and after a few mouthfuls it was gone.”

Silas was arrested because he took part in a protest to bring attention to the problems of some ethnic groups in Vietnam. In free countries, it is legal to protest in public. But Vietnam is a communist country. Government officials can have people arrested for protesting in public.

The ethnic groups want the freedom to worship the God of the Bible. Vietnamese leaders do not want Christianity to grow among the groups. They also do not want the people in the groups to be able to read the Bible in their own language.

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In area, Vietnam is slightly larger than the U.S. state of New Mexico.

Main Languages

At 6 a.m. U.S. Central Standard Time, it is 7 p.m. in Vietnam.


Interesting Fact
Children in Vietnam go to school six days a week.

The Vietnamese people have a long history of struggle. Many times they have fought for independence from others who wanted to rule them. In 1945, North Vietnam was declared a communist country. There were wars in the region from 1941 to 1985. Soldiers from the United States were part of the fighting during the Vietnam War in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Communist North Vietnam took over South Vietnam in 1975. Many Christians fled because they knew that belief in God is forbidden or discouraged under communist governments.


Many people in Vietnam are Buddhists, many are spirit worshipers, some follow a Vietnamese religion called Cao Dai, and some follow no religion at all. Read the chart Comparing Vietnam’s Cao Dai Religion and Christianity to learn more about Cao Dai.

The Communist Party still controls the government. Vietnam’s constitution promises freedom of religion, but the government still controls religious activities. Tribal Christians and Christians who belong to churches that do not register with the government face the worst persecution. Arrests and fines for these Christians are common. Sometimes Christians hide their Bibles and read them in secret. At times they hold secret worship services and baptisms.