In these communities, local political leaders can use their authority to threaten and punish anyone who seems to go outside of the local culture or beliefs.
When people find Jesus in these situations, it can have severe consequences.
Suong*, a tribal believer in north-central Vietnam, knows this firsthand. She’s currently under unrelenting pressure from her parents, in-laws and husband to give up her faith in Jesus.
“They kept pressuring me to denounce my faith and sign a document stating that I voluntarily gave up my faith,” she told our partners. “I ignored them.”
The area where she is from has no church or any recognized Christian group. In fact, the local government in the area is trying to kick out anyone who claims to be a Christian. The local authorities claim the province is a “non-religion area.” Last year, three Christians in this part of Vietnam were jailed because of their faith.
Suong’s non-Christian husband previously supported her. However, he got scared when he was threatened with termination from his post in the community office.
And so, he turned his back on Suong. His parents did the same.
“When I stood firm on my faith despite the pressures I received from all sides, my in-laws [took] me back to my parents, hoping [my parents] will convince me to reject my Christian faith,” she shared. And that’s exactly what her family tried to do. “When I said no, they said they will kick me out and will not allow me to go back home anymore,” she said. “I am very afraid, but I will not give up my faith.”
She pleaded with her parents, and they let her stay for a few days so she can think about her decision— but then they kicked her out, along with her three-year-old child. Both her family and her in-laws want her expelled from the community and turned over to the local police. “I am very scared,” Suong told our partners.
“I don’t know what to do. Why do they make it difficult for us to follow Jesus? But I will trust in God’s mercy and protection.” Suong is familiar with the consequences of following Jesus in Vietnam for more reasons than her own situation. Last year, Open Doors’ local partner helped her sister when she was kicked out of her home because of her faith.
Suong’s sister was given support to settle in a new place and, after a few months, fled the country on her own because she was afraid of the continued threats to her life.
This is why Suong is thinking about taking her child and fleeing Vietnam. “I want to run away with my child and seek refuge in another country where my sister is, but I do not have any money and my child has no passport,” she said. She only has about 400,000 VND (about $16 USD).
“I don’t want to stay here and have to give up my faith. I want to follow Jesus no matter what happens,” she stated.
Open Doors' local partner has been monitoring her situation. “I have been in constant communication with her through [text] messages to encourage her and pray for her since no one is allowed to visit,” says Athan*, Open Doors’ local partner in the country.
The local church in the area where she fled is helping her.
“One of our local partners, Pastor Luca*, is visiting her and trying to arrange a place where they can stay near the local church,” Athan says. “They are also finding ways to support them, and we are constantly monitoring her situation.”
Recently, Suong’s husband tracked her down and gave her an ultimatum—even though their child was in the hospital with an illness.
“My husband came and [tried to force] me to write [a letter divorcing him],” she says. “If not, he will force me to go home and be handed over to the police.” Under local regulations, he has the legal authority to take her home and having her arrested.
But with her child in the hospital, she ignored her husband’s threats. Her hope remains that Jesus will see her through the hardships that she’s facing.
Join us in praying for Suong:
Pray that God will provide a way out for her—either by another country or by the lessening of the pressure. Ask God to provide for her and her child.
Pray for Suong’s husband, parents and in-laws. Ask God to change their hearts, and allow Suong to follow Jesus freely.
Pray for our local church partners, that they would have wisdom on how best to help Suong and her family.
Pray for tribal Christians in Vietnam who risk everything to follow Jesus. Ask God to protect them and help them realize they aren’t alone. Pray that God would restore the joy of their salvation (Psalms 51:12).