New Face of Christianity
In Ever-Changing Vietnam
Nguyen Thanh Huyên, 28, lives in a world of unrest and stress. Her native country, Vietnam, has one of the fastest developing economies in the world, and is quickly becoming a major economic player in the global market. This rapid development has many effects on women like Nguyen. Workers are under unhealthy pressure from the Communist government to meet the high demand for productivity.
This undue stress on the working class and youth has lead to an increase in social problems such as “homelessness, drug use, sexual and economic exploitation, trafficking and violence,” according to a report from UNICEF. The world Nguyen lives in is one of increasing struggle and danger, a world much different from her parents'.
Nguyen is a Christian. She received the Word of God in 2001 in her native language and was moved by its value to her people: “What struck me is that the message of the Bible seemed to be relevant to today's people, containing deep meaning, though simple to understand.” She speaks of how she was deeply changed by its message: “Through the Bible, I also discovered the root of sin and evil that infects human beings and society.”
One prevalent sin she speaks of is the persecution of Christians. Just as the economic and social landscapes of Vietnam are full of tension, so is the religious one. Although the constitution of Vietnam calls for religious freedom, the persecution of the Christian church continues. In southern Vietnam, a protestant pastor, Thach Thanh No was brutally beaten to death as he was leaving a church meeting at the hands of Khmer Krom Buddhists. In most regions of the country, less than 10 percent of the population is Christian, leaving them subject to bullying and discrimination from other religious sects and groups.
Much of the societal turmoil of Vietnam is propagated by the youth of the nation. More than one third of the population is under 18 years of age, the majority of which were raised without religious impulse or training. There is a fresh crop of impressionable young men and women in the country who, because of social and economic pressures, are falling victim to crime and exploitation. The Vietnam Partnership, a branch of the United Bible Societies Service Organization Asia Pacific (UBSSO Asia Pacific), is working hard to provide these youths with new and relevant Bible resources to foster deep faith and understanding.
Throughout Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of new Bible resources have made it into the hands of the youth. A new, hungry generation has been equipped to make a positive impact in their country and counteract the harsh negative effects of religious, social and economic pressures. Nguyen, along with countless others, is becoming the new face of Christianity in an ever-changing Vietnam, a group that loudly attests: “Jesus has the power to deliver us and give us new life.”
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