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The Evangelical Church in Vietnam: Beauty and resilience

WEA Global Ambassador Brian Stiller visits Vietnam and reflects on the state of the Church in this beautiful country.

The Evangelical Church in Vietnam: Beauty and resilience

Read this and more at: www.evangelicalfellowship.ca/dispatches

Aromas from open kitchens scent the night air as I walk the narrow streets of old Hanoi. It’s time for evening dinner: Sidewalk restaurants filled with children and adults spill out their happy chatter, all busy with eating in one of my favourite places in the world.

Anthony Bourdain, the recently deceased gourmet globe trotter for CNN, named Vietnam as among his most loved countries: “The food, culture, landscape and smells—they’re all inseparable.” In his 2016 series the camera catches him on a low seat in a noodle restaurant, just off the street, not only inquiring about spices and noodles, but life. His pictures crossed my mind as I strolled that evening.

Vietnam also carries with it other memories: bombers dropping their destructive ordnances on unsuspecting villagers and soldiers creeping through jungles. Those wasted years are powerfully captured by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick in their recent 10-part series chronicling the Vietnam War.

Their pictures and interviews remind us of a fiercely patriotic Vietnamese people who faced down the impositions of France and the USA, whose involvement was fueled by the West’s belief in the “domino theory,” a view that posited that if Communism took over Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, then Myanmar and Thailand would fall, followed by the rest of southeast Asia.

These borders frame my understanding of the evangelical church in Vietnam.
- It’s still north and south
- The evangelical church was planted 100 years ago
- The 1988 Revival
- Jesus among the Hmong
- Government laws in managing religion
- The resilience of the churches

Brian C. Stiller
Global Ambassador, The World Evangelical Alliance
August 2018