The mother of a man who struck a pastor with his car, killing him, embraced Christianity after witnessing the compassion and forgiveness extended by the church's congregation.
According to Christian Aid Mission, the incident occurred in Vinh City, on Vietnam's North Central Coast in Nghe An Province - a region known for its resistance to the Gospel.
Last year, the pastor of a local ministry was killed when a car veered into him. The director of another ministry in the region went to console the bereft congregation, and if anyone would volunteer to serve as a replacement for the late pastor.
"He asked for a replacement, and 30 men volunteered, even though it is a very hard place to minister," the ministry director revealed. "Now there are 12 other churches in the area."
Non-Christian relatives of the church members were angry, saying, "If God is a big God, why would He allow this to happen?"
However, what was intended for evil, God used for good. The mother of the driver who struck the pastor, surprised that there was no lawsuit and that the congregation forgave her son, came to the church.
"She saw the love of the people towards her, and so she believed in Christ," the ministry director revealed. "A month after the accident, the driver, his wife and 6-year-old daughter came to church, but they have not yet believed. Please continue to pray for this church, and pray that this driver and his family would come to know the Lord Jesus."
Vietnam is ranked 17th on Open Door USA's World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution, up three spots from last year. Christians make up just 9.5% of the country's population of 92.7 million.
According to persecution watchdog International Christian Concern, violations of religious freedom increased in 2016 in comparison to previous years. The outlets reports that Catholics, members of unrecognized forms of Buddhism, and Protestant groups were targeted by authorities, and members of these groups were prevented from attending services, brutally attacked, and had crosses removed from their churches.
In an earlier report, CAM revealed that at least 108 pastors are currently imprisoned because they refused to register or combine their churches despite pressure from local officials.
Churches regulated by the government are prohibited from meeting in smaller groups: no Sunday school classes for children or adults, no youth groups or other gatherings apart from the congregational worship as a whole.
In addition, taking Communion and collecting offerings are forbidden, police monitor sermons to ensure nothing is said against communism, and plural leadership is prohibited; only one leader is allowed for each congregation. Children are also prohibited from learning about Jesus Christ except for in the privacy of their homes.
To learn more about Christian Aid Mission or to support missionaries working to share the Gospel in Vietnam, visit their website.