A training event for persecuted Christian leaders in Vietnam in the first quarter of 2020 will inaugurate an increased focus on Southeast Asia for persecution ministry Voice of the Martyrs Korea.
VOM Korea representative Hyun Sook Foley says that the ministry’s new “Southern Plan” intentionally bears the same name as the Southeast Asian economic initiative announced by the Korean government at the November ASEAN summit in Busan.
“Increased economic ties between Korea and Southeast Asia must be matched by increased ties between Christians in the two regions,” says Representative Foley.
“That is because increased financial prosperity in the countries of Southeast Asia has actually led to an increase, not a decrease, in the persecution of Christians in the region. When governments that are committed to policies of persecution become financially stronger, Christians can expect to suffer more. That means the Korean church must do more than just send missionaries to evangelize Southeast Asians. It must help Southeast Asian Christians learn how to suffer for Christ.”
Despite increasing persecution that makes Vietnam part of the hotbed of persecution in Asia, the church there continues to grow.
The 2019 Open Doors World Watch List called Asia “the new hotbed of persecution for Christians”, listing Southeast Asian countries Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam in the top 20 most persecuting countries in the world. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended in its 2019 report that Vietnam be designated as a “country of particular concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act due to what it called “systemic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom” arising from the implementation of its 2018 Law on Belief and Religion.
Representative Foley says,
“In the November ASEAN summit in Busan, former Korean Ambassador to Vietnam Park Noh Wan said that Korea shares a common history and culture with ASEAN countries. But one area where the culture of Korea is very different than that of several nations in Southeast Asia is in the area of Christian persecution.”
Representative Foley says that recent reports from groups like USCIRF and World Watch, as well as information from VOM Korea’s church partners in the region, show that persecution is changing as it grows in countries like Vietnam.
“Sending Christians to jail because of their faith is currently not the primary method which authorities there uses to oppress Christians,”
says Representative Foley.
“Believers in Vietnam report it is now more common to try to persuade new believers to denounce their faith by threatening them with loss of employment, using hired criminals to attack them, confiscating their lands, destroying their houses or driving them from their villages. In many ways, these are far more challenging forms of persecution for Christians to have to deal with. That’s why persecution training is so important.”
Representative Foley notes that while VOM Korea provides funding for the training events, the training events themselves are taught by Vietnamese Christian leaders who have personally experienced persecution.
“Korean missionaries can evangelize, but when it comes to answering questions like, ‘What do I do when they take my land, destroy my home, and exile me from my village?’, local believers can answer with the authority and credibility of personal experience.”
Voice of the Martyrs Korea is inviting Korean churches and Christians to stand with Vietnamese Christians by helping to cover the cost of these training events. Donations can be made through that web page or via wire transfer to:
Persons wishing to donate through wire transfer should add the phrase “Vietnam” to ensure the funds are directed to this project.
Gifts can be made online at https://vomkorea.com/donation/ or via wire transfer to 국민은행 463501-01-243303 예금주: (사)순교자의소리