Viet Nam Martyrs

By Life or by Death, by James C. Hefley (Zondervan, 1969, 208 pp., $4.95) is reviewed by Wesley G. Pippert, overnight news editor, Washington Bureau, United Press International, Washington, D.C.

Religious free-lancer James Hefley’s By Life or by Death is a study of the evangelical missionary effort in Viet Nam, especially during the 1960s, when ten missionaries have been martyred and five others captured by the Viet Cong.

Two conclusions leap out of Hefley’s chronological narrative. The first is that the Christian and Missionary Alliance has done a singular work in Viet Nam. For almost half a century—going back to 1911, when R. A. Jaffray arrived there—the Alliance, a small, evangelical group with 68,000 U. S. members, most of them working people, was the only Protestant denomination to send missionaries to French Indo-China, out of which Viet Nam was carved in 1954. When war came once again to Viet Nam in the 1960s, the Alliance kept a full corps of missionaries there.

Since 1966 an ecumenical effort called the Viet Nam Christian Service (VNCS) has sent more than 100 American doctors, nurses, social workers, farm specialists, and child-care workers to Viet Nam. But at any one time there have been nearly as many Alliance missionaries there as all other evangelical and ecumenical personnel combined. The other denominations have been Johnnies-come-lately in Viet Nam; the Alliance has carried the burden of these war-weary people almost single-handedly.

The second conclusion in Hefley’s book is a political one. For the most part he avoids political issues of the war, but since he focuses on this decade, the villain who emerges is clearly the Communist. It is easy—but not very elucidating—for the conservative to heap ...

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