It was reported by ABC News that over 10,000 Vietnamese flocked to a stadium to hear evangelist Franklin Graham preach in a rare and exceptional event.
Despite reforms over the past three decades, the government of Vietnam still has strict economic and social controls over the economy and all aspects of society, including the media and the freedom of religion. ABC claims that over 100 Vietnamese are currently in prison for illegal religious and political activity. On top of that, some religious leaders in the country have been subject to harassment, physical assault, detention, monitoring, and property seizure.
Christians in the United States, including Graham, are absolutely ecstatic that not only the government permitted the event, but that Christianity is a growing religion in the communist country. In fact, a second prayer rally is scheduled for Saturday night, and it is also expected to attract large crowds.
"This is unprecedented really for us and for the government," Graham said. "We don't want to do anything that would embarrass the government or the people of Vietnam. Again we're guests, the government has not told me what to say or not say. I'm going to talk about God we are not here to talk about politics."
"I hope the government will see that Christians are not enemies, but Christians are some of the best citizens in Vietnam and people that they can trust and depend on," he continued. "I hope it would be good for the churches and I hope this meeting would be good for the government and they will see us in a different light after this week."
Currently, Vietnam has about 6.5 million Catholics and more than 1 million Protestants among Vietnam's 95 million people, the majority of whom are Buddhists.
According to one website, Christianity has been growing in Vietnam since the 1980s. In response to the growing interest in Christianity within the country, particularly Roman Catholicism, the government has issued anti-Christian propaganda and has restricted religious freedom.
Given the history of Western imperialism in Vietnam, the government has accused "external forces" of promoting Christianity within the country, which has undermined the people's faith in Communism and has, according to enemies of Christianity, promoted social unrest within the Sino-Vietnamese borderlands.
According to the Christian Post, Roman Catholics within Vietnam has faced heavy persecution. Earlier in July, Vietnamese police supposedly assaulted a group of priests and parishioners who were defending a cross erected on disputed land that the Church claimed to own.
"They prevented us from putting it back, and priests held on to the cross while police tore at their shirts and dragged them by their hair," writes the Christian Post.
In breaking news, Franklin Graham just shared a very powerful story in response to the attempted New York City terror attack.