BRIEF HISTORY OF
THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF VIETNAM
The Presbyterian Church of Vietnam (PCVN) was established in 1968 and received official government recognition from the Republic of Vietnam on October 26, 1972. After Vietnam’s 1975 Reunification the PCVN’s founding moderator, Pastor Nguyen Xuan Bao, found it necessary to leave his homeland. In 1978, Pastor Bao escaped by boat to Malaysia, and there in his refugee camp on Pulau Bidong Island, established a Reformed Church chapel. He was resettled to Luzern Switzerland in 1979 and with the help of Pfarreren F. Leuenberger, Jakob Wahlen and Hans Stuckberger established the Vietnamese Swiss Reformed Church. Pastor Bao, now reunited with his family, was allowed to immigrate to the United States and the Saigon Church was founded in Orange County, CA on September 05, 1982. In October 1989, having received his United States citizenship, he and Martin Sterk from the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) travelled to Vietnam and started a new chapter in the history of the Vietnam Presbyterian Mission.
Generally speaking, the protestant missions that had earlier come to Vietnam emphasized only evangelism. Gospel application was limited to verbal proclamation. Christian mercy ministry and cultural reformation were deemed unimportant and thus were not attempted. “Words, but no Deeds” was the prevalent strategy. After the 1975 Reunification the gospel witness of all churches and pastors was brutally curtailed. Pastor Bao’s return to Vietnam in 1989 was therefore like a breath of fresh air for the severely restricted remnant protestant church. The new deeply-felt duty of his missionary calling had been expanded to include following Matthew 25: 34-36, “for I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
PCVN missionaries must combine deed ministry with verbal proclamation, with both in service to Jesus Christ, for the glory of our Father in heaven. We heartily believe that heeding Paul’s endorsement and admonition in Romans 2:4 is the best method for evangelism and church growth.
Relief Missions: In 1989 Rev. Bao Xuan Nguyen returned to Vietnam to prepare the soil for the sowing of the gospel and the planting of churches. Since 2000-2014 and with over 112 relief missions to date, we have distributed 10500 Tricycle wheelchairs for the handicapped, 1000 tons of rice for leprosy colonies and natural disaster victims, distributed 50,000 blankets and 20,000 mosquito nets, and drilled 3800 wells to provide clean & safe water for many rural areas.and built 16 bridges in rural areas.
Habitat for the Montagnard: Many families of the 53 different ethnic minority groups live below the US$50 per month poverty level. Being the poorest of the poor they often have had limited access to adequate shelter, electricity or safe water. We have provided roofing material for 3500 families. There are still thousands of families that need leak-proof roofing.
Church planting and harvest: From 1989 to 2004 we established 3 congregations. In 2008 we had 74 congregations, and On December 04, 2008 the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam officially recognized The Presbyterian Church of Vietnam.
in 2010 we had 111 Congregations; and in 2014 we have planted and organized 240 registered churches and, formed 24 Presbyteries.The Second General Assembly have been held in Ho-Chi-Minh City from May 14-16, 2014 have elected 15 Officers for Central Committee, and Central Government had accepted these officers.
Theological Training: The PCVN has started theological training for its leadership. The Saigon Presbyterian Theological Seminary is established and as of May 2011 we have trained 200 Pastors and Evangelists. We have also sent 9 students to to the Presbyterian Theological Seminary(PTS) in Manila for B.A. degrees, one of them have graduated M.Div and have returned to Vietnam and working in our headquarter.: 4 Vietnamese, 1 K’Dong Tribal, 2 K’ho Tribal, 1 Hmong and 1 H’re triber . We also sent 19 students to USA for training, We hope to continue to send more students to the USA, Europe, Australia, Canada for the training of future church leaders.
Literature Translation: Many Reformed titles have been translated into Vietnamese: Systematic Theology of Dr. Louis Berkhof; Berkhof’s Summary of Christian Doctrine, Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dort, Westminster Confessions, etc. Calvin’s Institutes is a work in process. Translation of additional books for seminary education is planned.
Church Training: Music, English, Computers, Sunday school, Cooperative Living, Evangelism, Discipleship, Bible Study and Prayer
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
2016 Fact Sheet
Vietnam stretches narrowly along 1600 km (1000 miles) of the southeastern coast of the Indochina Peninsula. This makes it slightly larger than Italy and smaller than Japan.
Land Area: 329,24747 sq km (127,123 sq miles)
Eastern Coastline Border: 3,444 km
Land borders: Northwest with Laos 1555 km, North with China 1281 km, and Southwest with Cambodia 982 km
Capital: Hanoi (political, cultural & educational)
Economic & Population Centers: Hanoi (8.5 million) and Ho Chi
Minh City (11.0 million)
2016 Total: est 97,000,000
Major language: (1) Vietnamese - 89%
Minority languages: (53) Various Montagnard (Hill Tribal)
Vietnam - History in Brief
Territorial Definition and Expansion
The origin of the Vietnamese nation begins with the legend of people in migration down the Red and Black rivers from Tibet meeting with people arriving from the sea. Recent archaeology has discovered that the earliest primitive agriculture of northern Vietnam goes back over 9000 years. The Indochina Peninsula, at the crossroads between three Asian language families, has throughout history experienced clashes between great civilizations: Sino-Tibetan from the north, Indic Mon-Khmer from the west and Malayo-Polynesian from the south and east. The Vietnamese people have continually needed to defend themselves from the encroachment of their expansionist neighbors.
The northern neighbor China did occupy and rule Tonkin (Northern Vietnam) for 1000 years from 111 BC to 938 AD. During this time the Vietnamese people often revolted and refused to completely assimilate the Chinese culture and language. With China’s defeat and departure in 938, an independent but politically fragile Vietnam emerged in the Red River delta area. During the 13th century Vietnam repelled three Mongol invasion attempts.
From 938 to 1945 Vietnam was ruled by 14 different dynasties. In this millennium Vietnamese life was characterized by the battling of warring feudal families. During these centuries the Viet people slowly migrated south along the coast.
In 1471 the Champa Kingdom’s capital near Qui Nhon was captured. The Cham people, Malayo-Polynesian in origin, had arrived in Annam (Vietnam’s central coast) in the third century AD. The Cham had slowly been indianized into a commercially based trading culture and had through the centuries adopted first the Hindu and later the Islam religions. Marco Polo in 1292 on his maritime return from China to Venice stopped for re-provisioning.
The 1698 administrative takeover, by the Nguyen Lords, of the Khmer’s Mekong River delta region (Cochin-china) completed the relentless Dai Viet southward expansion. The Khmer (Cambodia) Kingdom, preoccupied by war with Siam, was unable to prevent the sudden Vietnamese expansion into their historic territory. With the loss of their port city Saigon, the Khmer lost their only direct access to the South China Sea and consequently their leading position in regional commerce and political influence was severely eclipsed.
Growth of Christianity
Associated with Vietnam’s 1000 year domination by China was the coming of Christianity. In the sixth century, being important provisioning stopovers, the ports of Vietnam benefited from Nestorian Christianity accompanying the cargoes of silk and spices travelling along the maritime trading routes between China and the Middle East. This mission was short lived.
In 1615 Catholic Jesuit priests were expelled from Japan. Their Portuguese-Roman mission decided to keep them in Asia and so relocated them to Vietnam. The Catholic Cochin-china Mission was established at Hoi An in Annam that same year.
French Jesuit Bishop Alexander de Rhodes came to Hanoi in 1619 and spent thirty years in Indochina. His transformation of the Vietnamese language into Latinized characters and the subsequent 1651 publication of his Vietnamese-Portuguese-Latin dictionary in Rome, greatly facilitated Europe’s growing economic and cultural interest in Indochina. In particular, with de Rhodes direction, the Paris Foreign Mission Society (Catholic) was formed in 1659 with the purpose of working in Eastern Asia. Adapting the church to local customs and training native clergy became important goals of the PFMS. If these goals could be attained it was hoped that their Catholic Mission would become less vulnerable to possible state hindrance or persecution.
Growing French Influence and Colonization
The 18th century brought greater French attention to Southeast Asia. With Vietnam’s territory now having been practically partitioned by the competing Trinh and Nguyen clans at the Giang River in Quang Binh, French mercantile interests prospered by supplying both sides with European weaponry and technologies. After receiving important concessions, the French military in 1802 helped Nguyen Anh establish the Nguyen Dynasty in Hue. He and his family would now only nominally rule the country. His successors however resisted implementing his promise to allow further French influence. This last Vietnamese Dynasty would end in 1954 with the temporary partitioning of the country.
Britain and Portugal had effectively blocked France from accessing China’s ocean ports and the French therefore had long been interested in using Vietnam’s Mekong and Red rivers as possible backdoor routes to access China’s lucrative markets. When the French pressed their claims for greater access and influence, the Vietnamese anti-French sentiment increased. The Catholic Church tried to politically influence the outcome for France’s benefit. The struggle became violent with the destruction of church property and the loss of French life. With these pretexts France invaded Danang in 1858, captured Saigon in 1859 and subjugated Hanoi in 1873. French Indochina was formed in October 1887 and Vietnam as a united free country ceased to exist until the 1975 Reunification.
The first missionaries to Vietnam were visitors in the late 1890s from the Hong Kong office of The British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS). In 1911 the Christian & Missionary Alliance (C&MA) succeeded in sending their first missionaries to Danang. Vietnam was Catholic French territory and therefore the French authorities often viewed Protestant activity as suspicious colonial rivalry.
The original C&MA missionaries tried to enter Tonkin from the Chinese border. In 1896 C.H. Reeves crossed into Tonkin from the Chinese border and was escorted by French & Vietnamese soldiers for a short visit to Lang-Son. In 1899 Rev. R.A. Jaffray visited Hanoi and later in 1901 he recruited a French-Canadian couple to start mission work. This couple went to South China to study Vietnamese. After repeatedly being refused admission by the French to enter Vietnam from China, they returned to Canada. In 1905, the C&MA started their mission in Lung Chow, near the Tonkin border. They hoped that they could enter Vietnam some day, but for the next six years they could not enter Vietnam. In 1911, Mr. Bonnet of the BFBS successfully invited C&MA missionaries R.A. Jaffray, P.Hosler and G. Hughes to Danang. In 1914 Rev. William Cadman and his wife moved to Indochina from South China. He played an important part in the translation of the Bible into the Vietnamese language.
With the beginning of American involvement in the 1960’s a wide variety of North American mission agencies came to Saigon and started to work in the Republic of Vietnam. The Adventist, Mennonite, Baptist, Assemblies of God, Anglican-Episcopalian, Church of Christ and Worldwide Evangelism Crusade denominations all established ministries which targeted the majority Kinh people.
The Presbyterian Church of Vietnam is unique in history because its establishment in 1968 was completely independent of any foreign involvement or support. Its current uniqueness stems from its commitment to the principle that the Gospel’s authority must be applied to all of life. Presbyterian Values therefore include:
Serving before Leading, Clergy and Laity Education, Respect for Civil Authority, Regulative Worship, Elective Leadership Accountability, Visible Worship Centers, Sacrificial Giving, Walking Humbly, Responsible Citizenship, Evangelistic Church Growth, Kindness to All, Help for the Needy, Communion of the Saints (a Welcoming Attitude towards Ethnic Minorities, Handicapped and the Poor), Thankfulness in Prosperity and Patience in Adversity, and Conflict Management by Dialogue rather than by Confrontation.
What Does the PCVN Need Today?
Above all, your prayers are coveted. Prayer is absolutely vital for our ministry. Only prayer can: Soften the hearts of government leaders toward the Church, Prepare the hearts of people to receive the gift of faith, and Move the hearts of supporters to financial generosity.
Jumpstart Ministries for the Montagnard
The PVCN Christian ministry to the Montagnard peoples poses many special considerations. Throughout history the Montagnards (53 different language groups, many of them unreached for Christ) have been subjected to a position of neglect, abuse and misunderstanding. They were feared as savages and were forced to live in isolated mountain top areas without access to the Good News of the Gospel, adequate education, family healthcare, electricity, safe water, or farmland. They are the poorest of the poor. Our hope is to intervene and to help Jumpstart new Montagnard church communities into a future of self reliance and kingdom service. We currently have worship groups in 20 different tribes and hope in the future to expand our witness in additional settings.
Your Love Gifts Will Make This a Reality.
PCVN Need List for Gift Funding:
Church Planting Pioneer Groups, Sponsorship of local Evangelists and Pastors, New Church Building Projects, Humanitarian Relief Services, Scholarships for Foreign Students to Korea and the Philippines, Support for PCVN Seminary Building Project.
We sincerely say Thank You for this opportunity to share with you our Vision for Ministry and to ask You for your Prayer and Financial Support. To God Be the Glory. May God Richly Bless You and Your Ministry.
Rev.Dr. BAO XUAN NGUYEN
P.O..Box.813 Garden Grove, CA. 92842.USA
Tel. (714) 225-7209.(cell) (714)775-8852 (O)
Tel. In Vietnam. 090-911-0911
Email. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.saigonchurch.com
All Finance Support please send directly to Vietnam as follow:
Presbyterian Church of Vietnam
Account # 0071374791946
Swift Code: BFTV VNVX 007
CIF : 3509737