Vietnam has the fifth largest population of the countries OMF works in – and one of the lowest Christian populations.
OMF’s first workers arrived in 1961 but had to leave at the end of the Vietnam War when the whole country became Communist. However, since the 1990s, Christian professionals have been welcome. Most Christians in Vietnam come from the minority peoples while the majority Viet Kinh, of which there is over 80 million, has less than 600,000 believers- this makes it one of the most unreached people groups in the world.
A Land of Contrasts
21st century Vietnam is a land of contrasts. Large cities pulse with change and opportunity, while poor farmers struggle to make a living and face the uncertainty of rising sea levels. Urban churches can be large, worship openly and face little pressure, while rural pastors may be harassed for holding church meetings.
Tourists are captivated by tragic stories of a 40 year old war. But the majority of Vietnamese now view the USA as a friend and are more concerned with the growing power of their northern neighbour, with whom there is a much longer history of conflict. In fact, ‘Vietnam’ means ‘People of the South’, reflecting their identity as a nation in the perpetual shadow of China.
The modern urban youth are growing up with Starbucks and McDonalds, smartphones in their pockets and English phrases on their lips, while in the mountains of the North young people from tribal groups struggle to keep their crops growing and teenage girls face the threat of being sold into the world of people trafficking.
How is God moving in Vietnam?
It’s a country of opportunity and openings, for people and for businesses, and for the gospel of grace. But where does the Church of Jesus Christ fit into this rapidly changing nation? The number of believers in Vietnam has doubled in the last 10 years, yet remains small. Up to three-quarters of the Bible-believing Christians are found among a few minorities, like the Hmong, who have responded warmly to the gospel. Of 79 million ethnic Vietnamese only 450,000 are Christian. In Northern Vietnam less than 0.05% of people are evangelical believers. Sizeable minorities like the Nung, Tay and Muong have even fewer still.
Our longing is not just to reach all these peoples with the gospel of Jesus Christ, but also to see the good news, in all its fullness, transforming their lives and communities. Prayer is the foundation to seeing Vietnam transformed for God’s glory and the following pages will help you engage with the people and places of this diverse land.