BARTLESVILLE, Okla., – As Vietnam’s president, Nguyen Minh Triet, comes to the United States this week, his focus will be on advancing trade and technology between his country and the U.S. Nguyen will try to avoid discussing human rights and religious freedom in his country.
But eight teens–six Americans and two Australians–discovered that persecution in Vietnam is real for Christians. The teens interviewed a pastor whose house church has been repeatedly torn down by the police. They were forced to flee from a Christian youth camp when police suddenly arrived.
Their adventure–Underground Reality: Vietnam–was captured on film last year and is now available on DVD from The Voice of the Martyrs, a ministry dedicated to helping persecuted Christians in nations like Vietnam.
“The president of Vietnam calls evangelical Christians law-breakers and says they should be punished,” says Todd Nettleton, spokesperson for VOM. “But the reality is these are simply Christians who want the freedom to worship God according to their conscience. They love their country; they pray for their government leaders. These aren’t trouble-makers or rebels, yet they are arrested, beaten and imprisoned. We’ve received a list of more than 100 Christians currently held in Vietnamese prisons.”
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) listed Vietnam in its May, 2007, report as a “Country of Particular Concern” in regards to religious freedom.
Underground Reality: Vietnam, which was released on DVD this month, documents first hand the reality of persecution in Vietnam as it was encountered by the teens. One teen interviewed a young girl who had been abused by Vietnamese police. The group met with the children of a Vietnamese pastor who has spent years under house arrest because of his Christian activities. A face-to-face interview with a formerly-imprisoned pastor was a highlight for some of the teens.
“We talk a lot today about reality TV,” says Nettleton. “Well, this is the ultimate reality; the reality of life and death for Christians in Vietnam. The reality of how much they are willing to pay in order to live out their convictions and serve God in the way they feel called to serve Him. What could be more real?”
“We are pleased that Vietnam’s president will be visiting the United States,” says Nettleton. “We call on leaders within the U.S. government to ask President Nguyen hard questions about religious freedom and the way our Christian brothers and sisters are being treated in Vietnam. Good trade relations, and high profits, aren’t enough to ignore the mistreatment of people of faith in Vietnam.”
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