It isn’t that hard to understand why the Vietnamese government is nervous about Christianity--specifically. They really don’t have that many challenges with Buddhism or animism--because it’s in their culture. I’ve been told by people who know the General Secretary that even he has an altar to his ancestors in his home. The first large-scale introduction of Christianity came with the French Catholics. It was a typical religious Colonial response. Vietnam represented a vast economic opportunity for the French, thus, the Vietnamese must be conquered and their resources captured. Sadly, as the French came with colonialism, the church came, as well, and they were viewed as the same.
I sit typing this in a hotel Americans know as the "Hanoi Hilton." Most of the Hanoi Hilton is gone, only a part of it for tourist. But, in Vietnamese culture, it’s known as a place where, for decades, Vietnamese who challenged the French would go to a famous court across the street from me, then be sentenced and marched across the street to stay in the prison where many American POWs would ultimately stay.
Then, of course, there was our own conflict with the Vietnamese. And, often the Vietnamese that allied with Americans were also Christians--often Protestant Christians. That meant God and politics all got mixed in together.
Why would they call him Savior? This is the faith of the men who drove them to produce for a foreign land. This is the faith of people who used faith for less than noble purposes.
Will they ever call him Savior?
-Only if those of us who know Christ live the radical life of Christ as servants to them instead of making servants out of them.
-Only if they are able to separate the history of the church here from the person of Christ here.
-Only if when we speak of religious freedom--they see we are concerned not just about what concerns us, but what concerns them.
There is not a place in the world where the church has more of an opportunity to be the church than here. But, for that to happen, it will have to be a radically different kind of church.
My purpose in life is simple--not just in Keller, Texas where I live, but here in Hanoi, as well. "To see the whole Kingdom of Jesus engage the whole of society through the whole church," This is my message.
In the early days of my ministry, I focused on preaching sermons that were good. Today, I focus more on what message God has given me--then the preaching follows. The message of Jesus, in and of itself, is powerful enough--what is not, is the example of what it looks like. That, my brothers and sisters is our responsibility, our call, our life.
Friday, June 30, 2006
I took this whole post off Bob Roberts blog. I thought it was excellent.