The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Vietnam received official recognition last month, granting the church in the Southeast Asian nation legal status to operate, church officials said.
Leaders met in Ho Chi Minh City October 22 to 24 to elect officers during the first church constituency meeting in the country since 1975. The church’s Executive Committee for the country is now seeking funds to purchase land for establishing a Bible school, a top priority for the worldwide Protestant denomination with 13,000 members in Vietnam.
“This is a dream come true for our members,” said Khoi Tran, stewardship director for the church’s Vietnamese Mission, who visited the church’s world headquarters near Washington, D.C. on October 29.
Khoi attended the constituency meeting where some 130 delegates voted a constitution, bylaws, operation plans for the next four years and an Executive Committee.
“This session was a crucial step toward completing the legal procedures required for church recognition,” Khoi said.
The committee elected Tran Cong Tan as president, Tran Thanh Truyen as secretary and Nguyen Thi Bach Tuyet as treasurer.
According to news agency VietnamNet, Nguyen Thanh Xuan, vice chairman of the Government’s Committee for Religious Affairs, addressed the group, saying “The government’s religious policies have helped religious organizations, including Protestant groups, to develop and actively participate in community activities.”
Nguyen also emphasized the government’s commitment to ensuring a proper legal environment for the operation of religious organizations in accordance with their defined religious principles.
“We have prayed and applied for church recognition for 33 years,” Khoi said. “Now we’ll be able to freely publish and distribute literature, and build new churches.”
Vietnam has 50 cities and provinces and only 20 of these have an Adventist presence, mostly in the south and central regions. There are six Adventist church buildings in Vietnam and about 100 registered Adventist groups meeting in homes.
“Most important we’ll be able to start a Bible school to train our young people to become Bible workers,” Khoi said. “The work is expanding and we need many trained workers.”
Khoi, 33, son of Vietnamese Mission president Tran is the first Adventist pastor to have received training outside Vietnam, earning a bachelor’s degree at Spicer College in India and a master’s degree in ministry from the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies in the Philippines.
Upon completing his education, Khoi served as an Adventist Global Mission Pioneer missionary in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for two years, planting churches among Vietnamese immigrants.
“This work was very satisfying, but I longed to spread the gospel in my homeland,” Khoi said. He returned to Vietnam in 2002.
Speaking of the government’s recognition of the church, Mike Ryan, an Adventist Church general vice president, said “This is very exciting news. Church members have been praying for this for years and I know there will be joy around the world when they hear this.”
“The doors are now open,” Khoi said. “Please pray that we will be able to build this Bible school quickly so we can reach every corner of Vietnam with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”