‘How Can We Love Your City?’ Question Softens Vietnam Officials’ Hostility Toward Christians

The song, What the World Needs Now is Love, is proving relevant today through the work of two Regent University graduates. The Love Your City project is helping the once-hostile Vietnamese government to become more welcoming of Christian churches with government officials even attending the recent Christmas Peace Festival that was held in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi. More than 14,000 from different Christian denominations attended the event. The day-long affair featured family activities, talent shows, and evangelistic plays. It culminated with praise and worship followed by American evangelist Reid Saunders sharing the gospel. More than 1,000 came forward to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior. Ten years ago, Christian events like this one in Communist Vietnam wouldn’t have happened. But this year, the Vietnamese police even hosted a Christmas dinner for all the pastors, symbolizing respect and understanding between the police force and the religious community. Hanoi International Fellowship (HIF) Lead Pastor Jacob Bloemberg attributes this breakthrough to the “Love Hanoi” campaign which their church began in 2012.

“Whenever we meet government officials, we were not asking for permits or other things. We were asking how we can love their city. They were surprised, but I think over the years, that really has made an impression that as Christian foreigners we were there to contribute to society,” Bloemberg explained.¬† Through the years, the Christian church has developed good relations with the government through projects such as cleaning up streets and bridges, conducting workshops, and other community services. Love Hanoi also provided platforms for churches to partner together in expanding God’s kingdom by expressing the love of Christ in different spheres of society. For “Love Hanoi” to be duplicated in other Vietnamese cities, the campaign has evolved into the “Love Your City” movement. With the Love Your City, not only is the Christian church gaining favour from the government but most importantly, the church is being known for God’s love and many Vietnamese are experiencing His love. When Hanoi International Fellowship (HIF) began in 1995, the government did not allow Vietnamese to attend the foreign church.

Bloemberg said all this changed after speaking to a government official. At a cafe, I asked a colonel, ‘If it’s OK to have Vietnamese attend our church.” And he just spontaneously said, ‘It’s OK if you take care of their spiritual health. It’s OK,” he said. Bloemberg and his wife, Linda, credit Regent University through which they completed their master’s degrees online. Their studies have helped them serve the Lord in Vietnam for over 26 years. Linda completed her Master’s in Education at Regent. She said, “I’m very grateful that Regent was at the forefront of online education well before it became a thing. And it allowed us to continue to work in ministry, raise our family, and live in Asia all while doing our master’s degrees. I was able to get a job that provided financial and education for the kids.” Bloemberg completed his Master’s in Organizational Leadership. “So that really was a key for me and a great learning experience in leading such a diverse congregation,” he said. Both husband and wife and the Love Your City movement will continue to inspire and convince people that the love of Jesus demonstrated by his followers is all it takes to transform a city.

Source: CBNNews

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