Pastor Quan* fined for smuggling Bibles.
Pastor Quan from Vietnam was once a shaman who would make sacrifices to evil spirits.
“Most of my life, I was scared of the evil spirits. Even though I was a shaman, I had nightmares. I saw the evil spirits in my dreams, and could only scream, but I could not overcome it.
“At the age of 23, I started to try to find out more about God, because I wanted to know the way to overcome the devil.” It took him seven years to try to figure out who Jesus is. He decided to follow Jesus. “I no longer worship the devil. I have accepted Jesus Christ.”
“When the people prayed, I was very emotional. I cried out. I felt very happy and light in my heart.”
“For the previous 13 years, I was aggressive and angry with my wife, but for the first time when my wife saw me, I smiled at her,” Quan says with a laugh. But his wife cried because she was afraid. We knew there were no other Christians, so the local government would persecute us. I told her God would have His way.”
FROM HOPELESSNESS TO PERSECUTION
“There was a meeting of the officers in the village. I gave the announcement to the people in the village that I was now a Christian. I was not scared because I thought, even if the people tried to beat me, God would rescue me.
“The people in the local government said if I continued to follow Christ, they would cast me out of the village and take away all of my properties and all of my land.”
In the end, Quan’s reputation as a martial artist was enough to save his home.
ON FIRE FOR GOD
It didn’t take long for Quan’s ministry to take off. On fire for God, he started to tell others about what Jesus had done for him. The idea that a shaman had found a new God was fascinating to many people in Quan’s village and surrounding areas.
“After a year of following Christ, we planted three churches,” He asked people one question: ‘What are you afraid of the most?’ They would say: ‘The devil.’ So, I would ask a second question: ‘What can you do to overcome the devil?’ They didn’t know, so I gave them the answer: Jesus is the only way to overcome the devil.”
“THE BIBLE IS LIKE WATER”
After he began to follow Jesus, Quan began to eagerly read and learn the Bible. “For me, the Bible is like water. Without water, we cannot live. It’s very important for the people in the village. If the people don’t have God’s Word, maybe their faith will be softened so they would turn back to their old lifestyle, just as if we do not eat rice, we may feel weak and unenergetic.
Quan’s commitment to the Bible means he will risk anything to make sure the Bible makes its way to the people he leads—and it’s a risk that’s had very real consequences.
In theory, giving out Bibles in Vietnam shouldn’t be a problem. The government of Vietnam has been criticized by the UN over lack of freedom of religion, so they have authorized publishing houses to print and publish Bibles in Vietnamese and other ethnic languages, including Hmong.
But these Bibles are printed in cities, and taking them to believers in more rural areas can be challenging. The Hmong people are viewed with great suspicion by the government, as they fought against the Communist forces in the Vietnam war, and Christian Hmong’s are seen as even more suspicious, as Christianity is seen as a foreign religion.
Quan was recently caught with 50 Hmong Bibles that didn’t clearly show where they had been printed, which is illegal. Even if the publishing house was clearly printed in the Bibles, he would have probably still been fined due to his status as a Hmong and a Christian. The fine was around $250.
“I told them because I was a pastor, they knew I didn’t have that kind of money.”
Fortunately, Quan was in contact with a local pastor supported by Open Doors, who was able to help reimburse Pastor Quan for the fine, and Quan was able to recover financially.
With support from Open Doors, he attended Bible school so he could learn more about God and the Bible that he could teach the people he was leading. He also attended an Open Doors Standing Strong through the Storm training, to help him gain a biblical understanding of persecution and know how to respond to it.
He asks us to pray for his people, the Hmong tribe. “For the Hmong people, please pray for them so that they can believe in Christ freely so there will be no more persecutions. Pray for the Vietnamese people; pray for anyone in the government that they will love the Hmong people more.”
*Name changed for security purposes
Open Doors supports the persecuted church in Vietnam through:
- Christians literature translation
- Biblical training
- Equipping children, youth, and women
- Socio-economic development
- Emergency aid relief