Lam became a Christian when he was 17. He moved to the town looking for a job and joined a house church there. Being the best educated among tem, he quickly ended up leading the group. Lam didn’t think he could take on the job, but who else was there?
The single Bible college in Vietnam was shut from 1976 until 2003. Around 50 students graduate each year. However, the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (ECVN) is estimated to be short more than 1,000 pastors; a city church of 2,000 people will have only one pastor, while many rural churches have none. Elderly pastors continue, but their own theological training was limited and any limitations in their understanding are perpetuated.
The ECVN was allowed to launch another Bible class in 2009, but the training needs are beyond their resources and capacity. A theological distance-learning program for pastors is now available and several denominations have also established their own underground seminaries. Though these provide essential training, they often reinforce the denominational divides across the Vietnamese church.
As Vietnam develops, the salaries of young professionals have dramatically increased. For talented and well-educated young people, attending Bible college is a big financial sacrifice and pastors’ salaries are only just subsistent. There is a socio-economic divide between the church and society. Influential and able people remain cut off from a church that seems old fashioned and intellectually below them. How can the Vietnamese church connect with the growing population of well-educated urban professionals?
- Pray for recent graduates of the Bible college to maintain godly lives and be passionate servants of God as they begin ministry.
- Pray for new Bible college students to be willing to make the necessary sacrifices to serve God in full-time ministry.
- Pray for interdenomjnational colleges to be set up and for unity and cooperation to share resources and training.