Vietnam is a vibrant growing country. With a population of 97 million people (2019) it is the 14th largest in the world. Most of the people (84 million) are ethnic Vietnamese or Kinh.
Among the Kinh, the church is small but growing steadily. However, only 1% of the Kinh in the South know Christ and only 0.05% of the Kinh in the North.
Among some of the 53 minorities, the gospel has spread rapidly. But among others, there are hardly any Christians at all.
History of Vietnam
North, South ConflictFrom 200 BC until 1000 AD, North Vietnam was a reluctant province of China. Chinese culture and religion became and remains an integral part of Vietnamese life. In 938 AD it became independent and grew into a dynamic force in East Asia.
From the 15th to 17th centuries, the North Vietnamese moved steadily South, swallowing up the warring Champa Kingdoms in the center and displacing the Khmer from the lower Mekong Delta in the South.
The North and South Vietnamese were at odds with each other through the ensuing centuries. Rivalry between them was sharpened with the arrival of the Europeans in Southeast Asia, and the country collapsed into vast rice lands controlled by feudal lords.
It wasn’t until the end of World War II that reform became possible. The Japanese occupation of the country during the war left a vacuum in 1945, which the French tried again to fill. The First Indo-Chinese War broke out between the French and the Vietminh (The League for the Independence of Vietnam), ending with the victory of the Vietminh in 1954. The subsequent Geneva Agreement divided Vietnam at the 17th parallel, with the Vietminh in the north and the French and their Vietnamese supporters in the south.
However, the end of the war did not signal the end of violence. Tensions with Cambodia escalated, and in 1979 the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia, removed the Khmer Rouge, and installed a pro-Vietnamese government that lasted 10 years. A few weeks after attacking Cambodia, Vietnam was itself attacked by its Communist neighbor China and the brief but destructive border war resulted in a fresh wave of Vietnamese refugees. Troops were also stationed in Laos.
Vietnam today is an active member of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and in 2007 joined the World Trade Organization. It is among the world’s top exporters of rice and coffee. It is becoming common to see “Made in Vietnam” on products in the West. Vietnam has set its sights on becoming a developed nation by 2020.
Although the Communists closed half the 600 church buildings that existed when they took over, the church has grown significantly. In 1975 there were around 150,000 evangelicals, but this rose to an estimated 1.2 million in 2002. According to Operation World, there are approximately 1.5 million evangelicals in Vietnam today.
The growth of the church in Vietnam has taken place amidst considerable persecution, as Christians were seen as counter-revolutionary and a potential threat to the authorities. Pastors and lay people alike have been imprisoned, particularly among the minority groups and unregistered house churches. Christians tend to be treated as second-class citizens.
Bibles are obtainable in Vietnam, as is the Jesus film, and in the last few years it has also become possible to publish other Christian literature. However, there is still a great shortage of commentaries, children’s materials and other books. Good, quality translated material and more indigenous writing are both greatly needed.
The need for economic development and trade has brought opportunities for people with skills in many professions, especially English teaching. Various development and aid agencies are serving the country. Small, but growing OMF International teams are involved as professionals working in both northern and southern Vietnam. The door is wide open and more workers are urgently needed.
What we do
To glorify God by reaching the peoples of Vietnam through prayer, making disciples, multiplying churches, developing leaders, and mobilizing for mission.
By God’s grace, we believe we can play a role in reaching the unreached peoples of Vietnam.
With a rapidly growing population of more than 97 million people and sweeping changes in every aspect of society Vietnam is opening up to the gospel like never before, but it remains one of the most unreached countries in East Asia.
With opportunities to reach out to people in both cities and rural areas, there is an urgent need for more workers to come and share the gospel in all its fullness.
We use different strategies due to the diversity in society and culture across the different regions of Vietnam, but we all share a common vision to see Vietnam transformed by the gospel.
We are looking for godly individuals to share every aspect of their lives and involve themselves with the people as living examples of Christ. Christians who want to share the message of Christ, pioneer in restricted areas, think strategically to reach neglected frontiers, build friendships, teach and mentor the current and next generation of local believers, or help field workers through support roles; these are the people needed to reach the unreached of Vietnam.