Vietnam To Receive Thousands of Children’s Bibles
1/2/06 Vietnam (BosNewsLife) Open Doors, an international group supporting Christians living in difficult circumstances around the world, told BosNewsLife that it will hand over the copies as “a New Year’s present” to children and families.
“Vietnamese people have a complicated way to explain stories,” said Open Doors spokesman Jeno Sebok from the organization’s headquarters in the Dutch town of Ermelo .
The Bibles, aimed at children in the 5-10 age group, were “completely written, illustrated and produced by Vietnamese people. This makes this [book] very special,” he added.
The books will only be given to families where parents promise to read to their children from the Bible on a regular base for at least one year, Open Doors said.
Sebok admitted that many Christians will not be able to receive the children’s Bibles, apparently because of government restrictions and distribution difficulties.
“In one of the churches involved in this project we will only be able to deliver 500 Bibles. But that church has 4,000 children.” He said however that churches already requested re-prints.
While the current versions are only based on stories from the New Testament, Open Doors is also working on a special children’s Bible based on the Old Testament, Sebok said.
Six denominations are reportedly involved in the project, which was coordinated by a church leader with close ties to the government.
The distribution of children’s Bibles comes shortly after the United States removed Vietnam from its list of ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ regarding religious freedom, a move that has angered dissidents and human rights groups.
High-profile dissidents told BosNewsLife they fear the Vietnamese government will only allow some freedoms while continuing “harsh repressive measures against Vietnamese democracy loving” activists, including church leaders.
At least hundreds of Christians, many of them Degar Montagnards, were still in prison, Tuesday, January 2. In addittion Degar Montagnards and other groups in especially rural areas have been pressuredto join communist-backed churches, said the Monagnard Foundation Incoporated (MFI), a group representing believers in Vietnam ‘s Central Highlands.
The Vietnamese government denied deliberate human rights abuses and said several house churches received official recognition by being allowed “to register” themselves with the authorities.
However human rights groups said these registrations have been often used to obtain names of Christians who may face police harassment later.
While under international pressure Vietnam underwent some economic and political reforms in recent years, the government is in essence still following an atheistic ideology, according to dissidents.
Vietnam was divided into the communist North and anti-communist South, but after US troops withdrew following the Vietnam War, North Vietnamese forces reunited the country under communist rule in 1975.