The sun was setting as our small bus bumped along a Vietnamese highway. Then someone began to sing. We were in the middle of a four-hour drive between Buon Me Thuot and Pleiku, having just endured a day of formal meetings with government and church officials, meetings as necessary and exhausting as tilling a garden that has been long neglected.

The singer was our guide, Hoang Cong Thuy, secretary general of the Vietnam-usa Society, an organization with close ties to both the Vietnamese Communist Party and the government. The cliché "he is a small man with a big heart" was invented, I'm sure, after someone met "Mr. Thuy" (as he is called). Unfailingly cheerful, even though he had to endure the quirks of eight evangelical pastors, three businessmen, one nonprofit diplomat, and one skeptical journalist, he worked to keep our spirits up. So during our drive, he grabbed the microphone of our little bus and began belting out a Sinatra tune. A cappella.

It was a joyful noise, as one is wont to say about earnest musical efforts. And it inspired equally modest talents on the bus to join in. One of our party—a man in his retirement years—gave a rendition of Elvis, followed by a bold fellow crooning from the repertoire of the Monkees. Then the Vietnamese sang their national anthem, and we followed with ours.

As Amy Rowe, one of the intrepid travelers, wrote in her blog, "It doesn't get any weirder than Baptists and Communists singing karaoke together in a van driving through the middle of Vietnam."

Yes, but weird stuff like this is at the heart of religious freedom efforts in Vietnam. It is the sort of thing that is making a difference for Christians there.

Emerging World Player

I went to Vietnam in late August and early September ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

June
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Also in this Issue
Freedom Fighters Subscriber Access Only
Department of Justice ramps up efforts to enforce the First Amendment.
RecommendedUS Prepares to Deport Hundreds of Iraqi Christians
US Prepares to Deport Hundreds of Iraqi Christians
American veteran faces forced return to dangerous homeland that two-thirds of his fellow believers have fled.
TrendingKay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Kay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Through God's work in our lives, we've beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union.
Editor's PickThe Vacuum Christian Indifference Creates
The Vacuum Christian Indifference Creates
The crisis we face when the church is silent on social justice.
Christianity Today
A New Day in Vietnam
hide thisMay May

In the Magazine

May 2007

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.