Limbless Australian-born evangelist Nick Vujicic Allowed to Tour in Vietnam despite Tight Regulations


Date:  2013-06-07

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

HANOI/HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM (ANS) -- A five day tour by limbless Australian-born Christian evangelist and motivational speaker Nick Vujicic was allowed to take place in Vietnam from May 22 through May 26, despite national restrictions on religious activities.

Nick Vujicic speaking in the White Palace Convention Center in Ho Chi Minh City, which drew a crowd of more than 5,000, invited guests
(Photo: Tuong Vy

According to a news release from human rights organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Vujicic, who was born without arms and legs, spoke to 75,000 people at seven official events, three of which were shown on national television.

This was part of a "World Outreach" tour with an overtly evangelistic intent: to "share the Good News of Jesus Christ."

At the end of his tour, CSW said, Vujicic also preached at Gia Dinh Church in Ho Chi Minh City.

CSW said according to local reports, Vietnamese Christians were thrilled by the response to the tour, but baffled as to how and why a Christian evangelist was allowed to speak in a country which still maintains tight control over religious activities.

CSW said the new Decree 92 on religious activities and organizations, which came into effect this January, places strict limitations on the delivery of "sermons" outside religious facilities, and on the religious activities of foreigners in Vietnam.

Christian groups which have carried out evangelistic events such as concerts and Christmas celebrations have been harassed, threatened and even beaten by police.

Nick being interviewed on the "Hello
Vietnam" TV program

CSW said the government's approval of Vujicic's tour was therefore a significant departure from the usual treatment of evangelistic speakers, and an exceptional case which had the support of a wealthy Buddhist businessman and a Communist Party official.

However, while many observers have celebrated the high spirits produced by the tour, some have criticized the restrictions placed on Vujicic in Vietnam. CSW said he was not allowed to preach basic Christian concepts, and his interpreter was cautioned about using certain words.

CSW said there is also some debate about whether one interpreter deliberately replaced some of Vujicic's words with different terms, omitting references to God, Christianity and religion.

However, other members of the audience said references to God and heaven in an event in Hanoi were interpreted correctly.

CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said in the news release, "The Vietnamese government's decision to allow Nick Vujicic to speak in Vietnam appears to be a positive move towards improving the level of freedom of religion or belief in the country. Although it is unlikely that this event indicates a change in policy towards religion, it has sparked discussion about faith and belief among the Vietnamese youth which could potentially pressure the government to rethink the state's tight control of religious activities."

Thomas added, "We urge the authorities to allow both Vietnamese and overseas Christian speakers to share their life stories and their faith freely in Vietnam, without censorship. We also encourage the government to allow Vietnamese citizens to openly discuss and debate matters relating to religion, faith and belief, both online and offline."

Christian Solidarity Worldwide works for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

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