Vietnam's Christians: A Century of Growth in Adversity

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Vietnam's Christians: A Century of Growth in Adversity. By Reg Reimer. Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library, 2011. Pp. xviii, 122. Paperback $12.99.

Until now, a substantive chapter on Protestant Vietnam has been missing from standard histories of Asian continental Christianity. No longer, thanks to the work of Reg Reimer. Written to celebrate the hundred-year saga of Vietnam's evangelicals, the volume provides a spare but articulate history of Vietnamese Christianity as seen through the eye of a trained missiologist.

The book's first half recounts the beginnings of Vietnam's evangelical church in 1911, when Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) missionary Robert Jaffray pioneered out of South China. Against background essays about Catholic missions and indigenous religions, Reimer traces the advance and trials of the CMA mission and its church during three wars: Japanese occupation (1941-45), the war of independence from the French (1945-54), and the Vietnam/ American war (1964-75).

The second half of the book is devoted to the adversities and endurance of the churches in the south, whose multidenominational constituency of 160,000 came under Communist rule after 1975. Government policies closed all social service agencies, shuttered churches, imprisoned pastors, and confiscated 300 properties, taking a heavy toll on morale and internal church life.

During the "Dark Decade" (1975-85) all church communities were forced into hiding. …