Luis Palau made history on April 9 when he preached at the Protestant
centennial celebration in Vietnam, becoming the first U.S.-based evangelist to
preach at a major event there since the 1975 communist takeover. The
76-year-old evangelist preached on two consecutive nights at the Thanh
Long Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, which was not the venue the event organizers
had originally sought. Event organizers had planned to hold the event in an
open field, but government officials allowed the event only on the condition
that it be held in the soccer stadium.
Organizers requested permission to hold the event months in
advance, but the government granted approval just three hours before it was to
begin. These delay tactics seem to have become standard procedure for the
Vietnamese government. For the past two years, the central government’s Bureau
of Religious Affairs has waited until the last minute to approve Christmas
events held by house church groups.
It was an “absolute miracle” that the event was held, said
the leader of Vietnam’s Evangelical Fellowship of house churches. Hundreds of
volunteers and technicians worked heroically to move equipment from an open
field in one part of the city to the soccer stadium in another part of the city.
Organizers had to notify thousands of people of the venue change. They used word
of mouth, website announcements, Twitter, Facebook and text-messaging to get
the word out. The evening began at 9 p.m., just two hours late.
Luis Palau began his message at 11 p.m., delivering a clear
evangelistic sermon. When the service ended, after midnight, about 800 people
came forward to receive Christ. On the following day, Sunday, April 10, more
than 12,000 people filled the stadium, and more than 1,000 came forward at the
call to follow Christ.
Dr. Nguyen Xuan Duc, president of the Vietnam World
Christian Fellowship, told Compass Direct News that he was very encouraged
about the future of the church in Vietnam. “These are watershed days for
Protestantism in Vietnam,” he said. “There is no fear, but rather wonderful
spontaneity and irrepressible joy. Events like this happen in spite of the government
and without the blessing of some overly conservative church leaders. What we
see is young, vibrant, lay-led, internationally connected and very
team traveled north to Hanoi, where they planned to host a similar event the weekend
of April 16–17. At the time of this writing, government officials had not
approved the event.
said today, ‘Of course you have the permission, but not in a large open field,’
said Palau in a statement to BosNewsLife. “It will be held in a covered
coliseum, which means smaller crowds, and less visible,” he added.
Source: Compass Direct News, BosNewsLife
Posted: April 15, 2011
Updated: April 18, 2011