Vietnam: Prayer Vigils Confront Government; plus India

General September 17, 2008

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 496 | Wed 17 Sep 2008

Karl Marx and Frederick Engels stated in their 1848 Communist
Manifesto: 'The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the
single sentence: Abolition of private property.' Together with the
Communist revolutionaries of the 20th Century they took this even
to classifying family, human individuality and achievements as
private property to be abolished and replaced with a 'social',
communal existence.

Communists came to power in northern Vietnam in 1945 and in the
south in 1975. Like various Communist Parties still in power today,
the Vietnamese regime is no longer truly Communist. Politically it
is still totalitarian, economically it is mostly capitalist and
socially it is in transition, whether it likes it or not. But
despite economic reforms, the regime still holds most of the land
and property it has confiscated from the Church.

Vietnamese Catholics and Protestants have long sought the return of
confiscated properties. The Church and State have been stuck in a
cycle of church petitions -- government rejections -- church
petitions with international support -- minimalist government
appeasement followed by more land seizures and demolitions --
church petitions, frustration and discouragement. But now a Spirit
of prayer seems to have gripped the Church. Since late December
2007 Catholics have been turning out day and night in all weathers
to pray in their thousands for the return of church property. In
March the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (South) issued 'A Call to
Prayer: to the Church of God Everywhere' appealing for global
prayer support in their struggle for their 265 confiscated
properties. Recently the Catholic prayer vigil phenomenon has grown
and spread. Since August the prayer vigils at the Thai Ha
Redemptorist parish in Hanoi have grown to become symbolic of all
Church-State land issues. Priests and bishops from across Vietnam
risk arrest by coming to pray with thousands of the faithful in a
courageous and impassioned show of solidarity.

Clearly rattled by the massive prayer vigil-protests, the
government, through the State-run media, is falsely accusing the
Catholics of criminal activities and rioting. On 28 August the
police attacked the vigil at Thai Ha, beating worshippers and
arresting four. Several priests were also summonsed. The Archbishop
of Hanoi has been slandered, accused of inciting protests and
warned that a crackdown is imminent. His answer to this was to
issue a directive to the whole church to pray that God will forgive
those who threaten and slander the church and give them a change of
heart. The prayer vigils are pushing the authorities to breaking
point. But will there be victory or violence? This may be a
watershed moment for the Vietnamese Church.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR --

* God, in answer to the prayers of many, to infiltrate and
enlighten the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese masses,
particularly those with influence (like the media) and those in
authority: may their hearts be turned towards 'truth, justice and
charity' for the Church and ultimately the blessing of the nation
and the glory of God.

* the Holy Spirit to work mightily within his Church, strengthening
the body with faith and unity in preparation for days of liberty.

* all the priests and bishops, as well as Christian writers and
lawyers who are imprisoned or under surveillance: may the Lord
be their shield and strength and comfort.

'Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the Lord that a man
gets justice.' (Proverbs 29:26 ESV) 'Now unto him who is able to do
far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the
power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in
Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.'
(Ephesians 3:20,21 ESV)

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SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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PRAYER VIGILS CONFRONT VIETNAM GOVERNMENT

Catholics and Protestants in Vietnam have long sought the return of
properties seized by the Communist Party. For years the church has
petitioned the government to no avail. Occasionally there is
minimal appeasement, but eventually the confiscation and demolition
resume. Now a Spirit of prayer has gripped the Vietnamese Church.
In March the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (South) petitioned 'The
Church of God Everywhere' to support them in prayer for their 265
confiscated properties. Meanwhile, Catholics in their thousands,
led by their priests, bishops and the Archbishop of Hanoi, have
been gathering at various seized properties to pray. These massive
non-stop prayer vigil-protests have the government seriously
rattled and a watershed moment looms. Will there be victory or
violence? Please pray for 'truth, justice and charity' in Vietnam.


-- and please remember to keep praying for India where anti-
Christian violence is spreading rapidly across the country:

* INDIA -- ORGANISED VIOLENCE UNLEASHED IN KARNATAKA

On Saturday 13 September, police in Kandhamal district, Orissa,
dispersed a crowd of Hindus preparing to attack Christians. On
Monday some 500 angry Hindus took revenge on the police by torching
the police station and firing at the police as they fled, shooting
one fatally. This Hindu anti-Christian pogrom continuing in Orissa
is also erupting in Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar
Pradesh and Jharkhand states. In Karnataka on Sunday morning 14
September, Hindu extremists launched virtually simultaneous attacks
on at least 14 churches across the three coastal districts of
Dashina Kannada, Udupi and Chikmagalur. Tensions are especially
high in Mangalore where there has also been rioting. Militants have
promised more attacks and the BJP state government is launching an
investigation into organisations that use foreign funds to
allegedly forcibly convert Hindus to Christianity. The situation is
extremely serious.

PLEASE PRAY for God to still this growing, spreading storm of Hindu
anti-Christian violence (Matthew 8:25,26) and enlighten Indians to
the dangers of Hindu nationalism.

* Selected scenes of this devastation in India may be viewed on our
webpage -- click on
< http://www.ea.org.au/ReligiousLiberty/India.aspx >.

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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
specifically and regularly for religious liberty
issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.

RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.