We are not supposed to be here today. At least that is what Harold Camping, an 89-year old radio preacher, had told the world. Camping had predicted the end of the world would commence on Saturday, May 21, 2011 with the return of Christ to earth and the rapture of Christians to heaven. He had originally predicted the apocalypse to take place in 1994, but when that day came and went, Camping claimed he had miscalculated and readjusted his prediction to 2011. But Saturday came and went, and no Christians were reported missing.
To most, Christians and non-Christians alike, the entire situation turned out to be nothing more than a passing comment, snide remark, or simple joke. To the majority of Camping’s followers, it was a disappointing and devastating let-down – especially to those who had given away their life savings, had said their final goodbyes, and who expectedly awaited a life free of worries and hurt. But even for them, life goes on.
That is how Camping will likely be remembered – as a cult leader with two failed and false prophesies. A man who led thousands astray. But most of the world will not remember him as a man who contributed to the deaths of Vietnamese Hmong.
Peaceful Gathering of 10,000 Hmong Incites Attacks from Police
For the past month, reports have been pouring out of Vietnam that an unknown number of Hmong Christians have been killed, attacked, or arrested by military forces. The Vietnamese government has closed off outside access to the Muong Nhe District in Dien Bien, where an estimated 10,000 Hmong Christians from the Central Highlands and Dien Bien have been congregating since late April. Insiders who are able to leak information past government forces and media controls have reported that as many as 70 Hmong have been killed so far, though exact numbers cannot be confirmed. These Hmong have also been brutally attacked and arrested by the Vietnamese government, while most are fleeing into hiding to spare their lives. Meanwhile the outside world is unable to send in help.
But why did this even take place? What led 10,000 Hmong Christians to come together in peace yet face such a brutal and violent end? Answer: Harold Camping. Worldwide media have reported on the gathering of Hmong in this region, and ICC sources have confirmed the underlying premise of these gatherings to be primarily due to Mr. Camping’s influence.
Mr. Camping’s prophesies had reached as far as the small and poor mountain villages of the Hmong in Vietnam, and his false teachings had sparked a flame of hope of a better life free of persecution for their faith and poverty for their ethnicity. The Hmong are one of the poorest and most persecuted people groups within Vietnam. The government does not even allow them to have a Bible translated into their native tongue, as most Hmong do not read Vietnamese – thus leaving them in the dark on matters of faith and susceptible to false teachers and doctrine.
They congregated because they believed that the world was coming to an end and that their long-awaited Messiah was coming for them. As they waited, the Vietnamese government grew anxious of such a large congregation of citizens coming together – citizens who they systematically deny their inherent human rights to religious freedom, and to economic and social equality. Murmurs of protests and the birthing of a political separatist movement within the congregated Hmong led the government to quickly take violent action on May 5.
Today, thousands of people are displaced and fearing for their lives, and numerous men, women, and children have been murdered.
We cannot allow the persecution of Hmong Christians to go on. The Vietnamese government must recognize the growing spread of Christianity among the Hmong, allow the printing of the Hmong Bible and other Christian education materials, and allow Christian denominations to provide sound theological education and leadership training to Hmong communities. The world cannot sit idly by as such persecution takes place. Sadly enough, Harold Camping will likely not be the last false prophet to lead astray those who will desperately cling to any small promise of hope because of the horrific reality they face each day in the here and now.