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Palau convention in Vietnam almost cancelled by government authorities
A U.S. evangelist addressed recently some 16,000 Christians in a stadium in Vietnam–the first American preacher to do so openly since 1975–in an event that was almost cancelled by Vietnamese government authorities.
Luis Palau, keynote speaker at the celebration of the Centennial of Protestantism in Vietnam, told BosNewsLife that thousands received Jesus Christ into their lives, even as Vietnamese authorities almost prevented the event from happening.
Although the event had been planned well in advance and permission was granted by the government, three hours before it was to begin, the venue had to be moved to a location site 45 minutes away by car, BosNewsLife said.
The Argentine-born U.S. citizen told BosNewsLife that the original plan was to hold the celebration at an open air field, but the government moved it to the Thanh Long Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City.
This called for moving equipment from the original site to the new venue, and then reassembling it. Thousands also had to be informed about the change of venue and hundreds of cars, motorcycles and buses had to be redirected within three hours, BosNewsLife
Messages were hurriedly transmitted through Twitter, the internet, Facebook, phone texts and by word of mouth. Technicians showed up to move equipment, did volunteers by the hundreds to redirect people, Compass Direct News said.
In light of the lack of government support and obstructions, the fact that the event pushed through at all was considered to be “an absolute miracle,” according to Compass Direct News.
Palau, 76, said in a video, “The tensions went on quite a bit. At the last minute they had a change of venue…about 45 minutes drive away from the one [larger open field] area where [the Christians] hoped to have it to the [stadium] area where we had it,” BosNewsLife reported.
Pray for Vietnam
The event started two hours late at 9 pm, with huge banners waving that said, “God loves Vietnam,” and “Pray for Vietnam.” After opening prayers son Andrew Palau testified on his deliverance by God from drug abuse and alcoholism, Compass Direct News said.
Luis Palau spoke at about 11 p.m. As music played, provided by Don Moen, some 2,000 committed their lives to Jesus. The succeeding night, with some 16,000 in attendance, up to 3,500 prayed to receive Jesus, BosNewsLife said.
In a statement from the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association, the gatherings were emblematic of growing understanding between the country’s communist administration and churches in the country, according to BosNewsLife.
Still, much needs to be done, especially for Vietnam’s Montagnard-Degar Christians in the Central Highlands, where hundreds of church leaders and Christian followers are believed to be detained for their faith, BosNewsLife said.
While the constitution of Vietnam permits freedom of faith, in actuality all churches must register, and those that do experience strong government control, BosNewsLife said.
Palau, who is slated to visit Hanoi and has other appearances scheduled in the Vietnam on Apr. 15-16, reaches tens of millions daily through 3,000 radio networks in some 48 countries. He has authored some 50 books, BosNewsLife said.