Thuy in Vietnam was brutally attacked for being a Christian - but she has forgiven the woman who assaulted her.
Ever since Thuy* and her husband became Christians, they have been facing a lot of harassment and discrimination from their Vietnamese neighbours. This persecution escalated recently in a brutal attack, which left Thuy in hospital for two weeks.
The oppression that Thuy and her husband face can be traced back to the local authorities. While they didn’t commit the acts of violence, they have fostered an atmosphere where Christians are deeply distrusted – spreading lies and malicious rumours.
"Authorities tell the villagers that Christianity is from the West – a religion from the enemy" Athan, Open Doors partner
“Authorities tell the villagers that Christianity is from the West – an American belief, a religion from the enemy which is not good for them.” Athan*, a local Open Doors partner adds, “And if a Christian helps others to convert to Christianity, they are paid a lot of money – so the false rumour goes. This is why Thuy and her family were persecuted.”
Vietnam is number 25 on the Open Doors World Watch List, and persecution is particularly rife among rural communities where ethnicity and traditional beliefs are closely intertwined, and leaving an indigenous faith to choose to follow Jesus is considered a betrayal of the community.
This tension came to a head earlier in the year. When Thuy’s husband was away at work, one of her neighbours wouldn’t stop insulting her, demanding that she either give up her Christian faith or leave the community. “If the local government does not do anything to stop you, I will!” the neighbour shouted.
Thuy asked her to stop, but the neighbour became even angrier. She grabbed a stick and started attacking Thuy.
“Her head was bleeding badly so they rushed her to the district hospital,” shares Athan. “When her situation was not improving, she was moved to another hospital in the city. She stayed for 14 days in the hospital because of her injuries.”
As Thuy naturally couldn’t report to work while in the hospital, 5,000,000 VND (approximately £175) was docked from her wages. Medical expenses came to another 13,000,000 VND – about six weeks’ wages for Thuy – as well as ongoing costs for medication.
Her case was reported to the district police after she was discharged. The local police decided that the neighbour had to compensate Thuy’s medical expenses and the wages she’s lost. But Thuy’s neighbour is very poor, and wouldn’t have been able to afford this.
Thuy’s local pastor encouraged her to extend forgiveness and love – and Thuy didn’t hesitate. She has prioritised forgiveness and trying to have a good relationship with her neighbour, even after the attack, and has only asked for her to share the expenses of her medication (7,000,000 VND, about £245).
You might be reminded of the parable of the unmerciful servant, where the master says to the servant: “I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” (Matthew 18:32-33) Unlike the unmerciful servant, that’s exactly what Thuy did. She has experienced the astonishing forgiveness of God, and so has extended forgiveness to her neighbour.
After the incident, an Open Doors local partner tried to visit Thuy to pray for her and her family, but the local government did not allow him. They told him that they do not allow the practice of religion in their community.
"Praying for one another is our way of life" Athan, Open Doors partner
This partner says: “They don’t know why we’re doing this (visiting and praying) as Christians. Praying for one another is our way of life. I told to them that there is no law in Vietnam that prohibits Christians from praying for one another, but they were adamant. The local government is just making things difficult for the Christians in that area.” He plans to take the issue to higher authorities, so he can get permission to support Thuy and her family.
Meanwhile, as Thuy is still recovering and on medication, Open Doors partners will be providing financial help to support her family until she is fully recovered and is able to get back to work. Athan is also in touch with Thuy’s local pastor – he is able to pass on the news that many people around the world are praying with her, and that she is not alone.
*Names were changed for security
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