God's grand design: Vietnamese family rebuilds life after arson attack

Chien together with his wife and two children in front of their newly built home.(Photo: Open Doors International)

Chien's family were on the way back from a Bible study not far from their home in northwest Vietnam when they saw the flames.

Horrified, they realised that their home was burning to the ground.

But it was not just their house that had been set alight by fellow villagers in the arson attack in June 2020. Chien, his wife and their three children – the first Christian family in the village - lost their rice harvest as well.

And it was this fact – the fact that they were Christians – which had led the people in their community to commit arson.

Chien and his family were forced to seek refuge at a relative's house in another village while they recovered from the shock. But against all the odds they were finally able to build themselves a new house.

After the devastating fire, Chien's family moved in with relatives. Later, a nearby church which heard of their predicament gave Chien's family a plot of land.

Henrietta Blyth, CEO at Open Doors UK and Ireland, said: "Where Chien's family lives - an animist village in northwest Vietnam - people who convert to another religion, especially Christianity, are considered outcasts and persecuted severely."

According to World Watch Research, both non-traditional Protestants and converts from indigenous religions face intensive pressure and violence for their faith, especially in the remote areas of central and northern Vietnam.

Their homes are sometimes destroyed, and they can be forced to leave their villages.

Chien became a Christian after a relative shared the gospel with him in 2018. His family later came to faith as well.

After taking a Bible course, Chien began to tell people in his village about Christ, but he and his family were the first Christians in the village, and they were threatened with expulsion.

Although they were not ultimately cast out, his family continued to face harassment. His daughter was bullied at school, and during planting season villagers blocked his farm's irrigation system.

But the antagonism came to a head when members of the community set fire to his house.

Now, after successfully building a new roof over his head, Chien is even hoping to start a new church in the area.

Henrietta said: "People will go to the most incredible extremes to discourage the Gospel from spreading but Chien's spirit has not been crushed."

*Pseudonym used for security reasons.

Open Doors UK & Ireland is part of Open Doors International, a global NGO network which has supported and strengthened persecuted Christians for over 60 years and works in over 60 countries. In 2020, it raised £42 million to provide practical support to persecuted Christians such as food, medicines, trauma care, legal assistance, safe houses and schools, as well as spiritual support through Christian literature, training and resources. Open Doors UK & Ireland raised about £16 million.