A children's Sunday school teacher in Vietnam has been released from jail by communist authorities. The president of Open Doors USA says public pressure was the key to the prisoner's early release.
Le Thi Hong Lien, 20, was arrested months ago along with five other leaders of the Mennonite Church in Vietnam. She was given a one-year prison sentence related to her Christian beliefs. However, Dr. Carl Moeller, president of Open Doors USA, says Le Thi was released last week, two months short of completing that sentence. He believes the early release was a response to public pressure.
"The Mennonite Church in Vietnam feels it was the result of the international community becoming aware of these human rights violations that were going on there," Moeller explains. But Vietnamese officials have stated Le Thi was released early because of a special amnesty program.
Regardless of the reason behind the release, Moeller says it is obvious Le Thi was severely mistreated while imprisoned.
"It was very clear from Miss Lien's condition that she had been severely tortured while incarcerated, including -- as we see -- drug injections that were used to alter her mental condition. She was beaten, she was given electric shocks, in addition to being deprived of food and subjected to almost daily verbal abuse."
A source close to Le Thi told Compass Direct the young woman "has a long way to go in her physical recovery, let alone her psychological and spiritual healing. Without God's help, she will never be the same again." That same source requested that fellow believers around the world pray for her full recovery.
Le Thi is but one of millions of Christians worldwide who are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. It is the focus of Open Doors to highlight examples of persecution, calling for prisoners' fellow believers to not only pray for their situation but to contact various national embassies and demand their release. In its ongoing effort to educate Christ's followers to the reality of persecution, Open Doors -- in conjunction with its Underground youth ministry -- has announced "Night of Persecution."
The program is being offered to church youth groups and summer camps as an opportunity to discover what it takes to stand strong in the face of persecution. Underground coordinator Jeff Shreve says "Night of Persecution" will bring home to teenagers the "reality of what life is like" for persecuted Christians when their prayer group is "invaded."
"Through role playing and other activities, the students will learn first-hand of some of the stresses and pressures which persecuted Christians often face every day," Shreve states in a press release. "For many it will be their first exposure to the Persecuted Church. They will also see the need to take their own faith more seriously."
The ministry reports that Hume Lake Christian Camps in California has already booked the event for junior and senior high youth camps this summer. Beginning in June, approximately 250 youth groups will participate in the weekly "Night of Persecution" event at Hume Lake. The event will continue to book dates during July, August, and September.
According to Open Doors, an estimated 200 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest, and even death for their faith, while another 200 to 400 million face discrimination and alienation. Underground states that all funds raised through the "Night of Persecution" event will toward supporting 900 Christians currently imprisoned in Eritrea, Africa. Some of those being held, says Open Doors, are Christian youth who are being held in shipping containers placed in the hot sun.
Open Doors USA (http://www.odusa.org)
(c) 2005, Agape Press