Christian Persecution Sep/Oct 2021
Vietnamese Church Faces Prosecution for COVID-19
A house-church in Vietnam may face criminal prosecution and has faced community hatred due to COVID-19. The government is investigating the Revival Ekklesia Mission (REM), an independent, charismatic house-church in Ho Chi Minh City because a couple there tested positive for the virus, reported morningstarnews.org.
The REM is being investigated for “violating the law against ‘spreading dangerous infectious diseases in humans.’” As soon as the couple tested positive, Vietnam’s highly organized tracing system went into action. Soon officials claimed to have identified 211 other positive cases connected with the REM center, even though only seven people were at the meeting in question, well below the 20-person limit the government imposed during the last two weeks of May.
The virus overtook seven other provinces. Nearly 200,000 residents in 16 districts of Ho Chi Minh City were “associated with this cluster,” claimed the HCMC Center for Disease Control.
REM’s registration was “temporarily suspended,” and local security police announced the group was under criminal investigation for spreading COVID-19. The deputy minister of Home Affairs said if serious violations were found, REM would suffer much stiffer penalties, including the possibility of “permanent erasure.”
Reams of articles in the local press; Vietnamese-language investigative analyses by the BBC, Radio Free Asia and others; and direct communication with affected Vietnamese evangelical leaders raise serious concerns. The first is that it is unprecedented for people who have unwittingly contracted COVID-19 to be singled out for criminal charges. Punishment for conviction includes fines up to US $10,000 and/or one to five years in prison. No one knows yet how far the government will carry this threat.
The second concern is that some Vietnamese authorities may intend to use this COVID-19 spread as a cover to oppress faith groups, particularly evangelicals.
Fulani Herdsmen Slaughter More in Nigeria
It appears to be open season on Christians in Nigeria as armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen continue to force their way into residences and villages to butcher believers, even as they sleep.
Recently they killed a young Christian doctor in Niger state. Dr. Precious Emeka Chinedu was killed after five Fulani herdsmen walked into the private hospital he operated and abducted him in the evening. He was later found in the bushes, shot to death, reported morningstarnews.org.
In Plateau state, they killed at least 17 Christians. Fulani herdsmen recently forced their way into the house where Jeffrey Moses, 26, was asleep in his room with his 16-month-old baby. His 21-year-old wife, Ladi, slept in another room.
Ladi was killed instantly. Jeffrey Moses’ nephew, Shadrach Zwewhie, who belonged to the Evangelical Church Winning All, was taken to a medical clinic where he later died.
Moses said, “The sad thing is that there are soldiers stationed close to our village, but they did nothing to stop the herdsmen. The government has not been able to address this issue, and each time we try defending ourselves, soldiers will stop us.”
More Christians were killed for their faith in Nigeria last year (November 2019—October 2020) than in any other country. The figure was set at 3,530, up from 1,350 in 2019, according to Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List report.
In overall violence, Nigeria was second only to Pakistan, and it trailed only China in the number of churches attacked or closed (270), according to the list. Nigeria led the world in number of Christians kidnapped last year, at 990. In this year’s World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria broke into the top 10 for the first time, jumping to number 9 from number 12 the previous year.
To read these reports and many more in full, go to morningstarnews.org.