Written by Sherry
Tuesday, 20 October 2009 13:29
Great news from Vietnam (and more proof that Asia is anything but a barren field for Christianity per my recent post on Christianity is Booming in Asia):
Courtesy of Asia News: Last year 30 thousand Vietnamese from the Central Highlands (Montagnards) were baptized and 20 thousand others are preparing to become Catholics. The data was emphasized by the Bishop of Kontum, Michael Hoang Duc Oanh, at the World Mission Day. “It is the work of the Holy Spirit – he tells AsiaNews - with the sincere participation and contribution of so many people".
In the world of evangelical missiology, an event like this would be known as a "people movement": the mass conversion to Christianity of a particular ethnic/cultural/linguistic group. There has been a large number of "people movements" all over the world over the past 40 years but Catholics hardly ever acknowledge them, much less grasp their significance.
I hope that both western pundits and Asian bishops and leaders are paying attention.
During my last graduate course in the only Catholic university in my home town, we were treated to the ramblings of a priest-guest lecturer, who solemnly told us that Francis Xavier had gone to India to get away from the Pope, that Christianity in Asia was the failed outcome of western imperialism, that only 2% of Asians were Christian anyway, and that there was no such thing as genuine Christian mysticism. Since I was the only member of the class with a graduate background in the history and contemporary practice of Christian missions and had actually written a graduate paper on the history of the Jesuit missions in India, I just had to correct the lecturer and did so - publicly and privately.
But that was in Seattle - the land of None. Locals expect to be handed wildly anti-Christian propaganda with their skinny triple grande mocha lattes. What continues to astonish me is the prevalence of very similar attitudes all over the west in more diplomatic forms.
The Vietnamese Catholic Church is celebrating its 350 year anniversary in 2009 and is hardly a tiny, limping, passive remnant of western imperialism. Over 130,000 Vietnamese Catholics have died for the faith over the centuries. And now 50,000 Vietnamese citizens are entering the Church in the course of a couple years. They have earned the right to speak for themselves.
Pope Benedict, in his message for World MIssion Day, reiterated that mission is the fundamental task of the Church.
"I remind all Churches, old and young, that God called them to be the 'salt of the earth' and 'light of the world'. I urge them to proclaim the Good News of Jesus to everyone everywhere in the world. You must consider the mission to non-Catholics as the primary pastoral commitment".
I have another encouraging story from Asia pending but am waiting for a bit of additional information before i post it.