By: Doyle W. Young
During the 1960’s and 1970’s, the United States engaged in a long, protracted and painful war in Vietnam, and more than 50,000 lost soldiers, sailors airmen, and marines are memorialized in the moving monument in Washington D.C. Since normalization of relations between these past combatants, much has changed including opening of business and economic markets, travel and tourism. However, one area remained stubbornly closed and under complete control of the government: religious freedom.
In addition to my teaching in the PLNU MBA program, I have also made numerous trips since 2010 to Vietnam as a visiting professor to business students. In addition to my academic service, I witnessed the real work was going on behind the scenes for the development of the first ever Christian seminary in Vietnam. Church leaders were planning the curricula, asking for prayer and raising money for the build-out on the third floor of a church in the old section of Hanoi. The Converge Church, representing over 900 churches world-wide, including Bethel Seminary in San Diego, was instrumental in raising the funds along with providing the expertise in the kinds of content needed to populate the curricula.
This is the first announcement in the West of a major movement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Asia. After years of work by the Christian community in Vietnam, I have just received the announcement by church leaders in Hanoi that the Communist Party has approved the seminary. With normalization of relationships with the West in 1995, church leaders have been given favor by the Communist Party for their loving treatment of the people of Vietnam. While the Hanoi church has about 1,000 members amongst five churches in and around the city, the primary growth of Christianity is in the tribes of North Vietnam where church pastors are needed to populate these rural/agricultural areas. In total, the church will be scaling to reach 40+ million North Vietnam.
This is exciting news! It is my hope that my teaching in Vietnam is not only enriched by my life in the U.S., but that the same is true in the U.S. of my Vietnamese experience. We can learn from each other, and I am grateful that we are no longer engaged in armed conflict in Vietnam but rather in commercial, cultural, educational, and now religious efforts. Perhaps this lesson can be learned by us in other parts of the world as well. God is good and perhaps it is now “Spring in Vietnam” for our long persecuted Christian brothers and sisters!