A Christian carrying Bibles through Vietnam was able to pass through police checkpoints unhindered in what has been hailed as a miracle.
According to Merv Knight, co-founder of Voice of the Martyrs Australia (VOM), the unnamed man felt called by God to take Bibles to a remote part of Vietnam, and his only way to do so was to travel on a public bus. These go through regular police checkpoints, and anyone found to be carrying Bibles would expect to be taken to prison, and possibly tortured.
However, a uniformed police captain sat next to the man, placing his hat on the box of Bibles. The officer then fell asleep for the entire journey, and because of his hat, the contents of the box went unchecked.
"Repeatedly during the next 10 hours, checkpoint after checkpoint, the police captain slumbered and the guards quietly moved by without ever checking the box," VOM reported.
The story has gained traction for being very similar to those shared by Brother Andrew, reknowned as 'God's smuggler', who distributed Bibles in Communist countries during the Cold War.
The Vietnamese constitution guarantees freedom of religion in principle, but, like China, the Communist government tightly controls independent religious practice. According to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), it represses "individuals and religious groups it views as challenging its authority, including independent Buddhists, Hoa Hao, Cao Dai, Catholics, and Protestants."
A number of advocates for religious freedom remain imprisoned in the country and authorities have "moved decisively" in recent years to restrict freedom of expression and religion even further, the USCIRF says. Religious groups have to formally register with the government, but are routinely denied. The Hmong Protestants have experienced particular persecution in the last few years, and Vietnam has been named a 'country of particular concern' every year by the USCIRF since 2001.
Despite this, the Vietnamese Bible Society has been working in the country since the late 1800s. The Bible in Vietnamese Common Language was first published in 1993, and since then more than 700,000 Bibles and two million copies of the New Testament have been printed and distributed in Vietnam.