Vietnamese Christians have a unique understanding of their world and courage to do what needs doing.
Aromas from open kitchens scent the night air as I walk the narrow streets of old Hanoi. It’s time for evening dinner: Sidewalk restaurants filled with children and adults spill out their happy chatter, all busy with eating in one of my favorite places in the world.
Anthony Bourdain, the recently deceased gourmet globe trotter for CNN, named Vietnam as among his most loved countries: “The food, culture, landscape and smells—they’re all inseparable.” In his 2016 series the camera catches him on a low seat in a noodle restaurant, just off the street, not only inquiring about spices and noodles, but life. His pictures crossed my mind as I strolled that evening.
Vietnam also carries with it other memories: bombers dropping their destructive ordnances on unsuspecting villagers and soldiers creeping through jungles. Those wasted years are powerfully captured by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick in their recent 10-part series chronicling the Vietnam War.
Their pictures and interviews remind us of a fiercely patriotic Vietnamese people who faced down the impositions of France and the USA, whose involvement was fueled by the West’s belief in the “domino theory,” a view that posited that if Communism took over Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, then Myanmar and Thailand would fall, followed by the rest of southeast Asia.
Five borders frame my understanding of the evangelical church in Vietnam.
It’s still north and south
Post French and USA occupation, Vietnam still is “north” and “south,” separate parts of the whole, each holding onto distinctive factors not unlike other countries: Different accents, dialects, and regional uniqueness.
The 1954 Geneva Accords between the French and …