House church leaders in Vietnam are requesting urgent prayer for Christians in the socialist nation as a new restrictive law on religion is due to take effect on Nov. 15. The day will follow the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP), slated for Nov. 14.
In a recent update received by Open Doors from a local contact, the source reported, “We were visited by a dear pastor from one of these house churches and he broke down in tears as the emotions of his deep concern for his people and leaders in Vietnam washed over him as he began to share.”
“Please join us in praying for Vietnam," the contact requested.
The proposed law on religion, which was issued on June 18, purportedly guarantees religious freedom in one of its articles but uses most of the remaining 40 for detailing a long series of complicated regulations to insure close state management of religious activity.
In a recent statement regarding the new law, the Vietnam Evangelical Fellowship said: "It will create many problems and disadvantages for the church, especially for our gatherings for worship. At the same time, it is likely to permanently outlaw our house church organizations, none of which have been recognized since 1975. Many articles in this ordinance will also provide a legal basis for local authorities to hinder and persecute the church."
The statement also asked for prayer that the government of Vietnam would withdraw the new law and to stop all forms of persecution and hindrances to church activities.
According to Compass Direct, in addition to the call for prayer, pastors and leaders from more than 50 house churches and indigenous mission organizations signed a petition delivered in Hanoi on Sept. 27 appealing to Vietnam's Communist Party leadership to allow greater religious freedom in Vietnam and re-think the new religious law.
"We are people who have put our whole trust in the living God," the document stated. "It is because of this true faith in God that millions of Vietnamese lives have been transformed for the better, and have contributed significantly to the social and spiritual life of our homeland."
In commenting on the new law, Carl Moeller, President of Open Doors USA said, "We need to pray for church leaders in Vietnam. The new law would have a negative impact on the lives of thousands of Christians in Vietnam.”
Currently Vietnam is ranked No. 4 on Open Doors' World Watch List of countries where persecution is the worst, and is also listed as a “country of particular concern” in the U.S. State Department’s recently released International Religious Freedom Report.