July 6, 2011
On June 14-16, 2011, the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (ECVN, also known as Tin Lanh) had their largest-ever gathering to celebrate 100 years of ministry. Held in Da Nang’s large indoor stadium (locally called “the flying saucer”), the celebration drew an estimated 15,000 people, with an overflow of about 1,000 in the outer halls. Along the entire indoor perimeter of the stadium, display booths were set up side by side to illustrate the historical background of the ECVN’s wide-ranging variety of ministries.
The Dan Nang celebration was the first of four 2011 celebrations to mark 100 years since the beginning of Alliance outreach to Vietnam. The second celebration was held in Hanoi on June 20, with about 4,000 in attendance, the third in Ho Chi Minh City on June 23-24, and the final celebration took place July 2 in Garden Grove, California, at the Crystal Cathedral.
A Sleeping Giant
The celebration featured a parade of hundreds from 20 tribal groups, all with membership in the ECVN, along with a 480-member tribal choir that sang “The Halleluiah Chorus.” Thousands of believers raised their hands, responding positively to a call for total commitment to Christ, regardless of how difficult. Delegates were challenged to reach Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Europe, or anywhere there are lost people.
Retired international worker Tom Stebbins preached an evangelistic message in Vietnamese on the prodigal son to a packed house of 15,000 people. Nearly 1,000 responded to become followers of Jesus Christ.
“[The Vietnam believers] want to be a force for Jesus and the Kingdom advance to other nations. They are a sleeping giant in the cause of missions,” said U.S. C&MA President Gary Benedict, who attended the celebration.
Today, there are 1.2 million believers in Vietnam, most of them Alliance. However, of the 71 people groups in Vietnam, 52 still have less than 2 percent who follow Jesus. About 40 million people in North Vietnam do not know Christ.
Watch a video by Dr. Tom Stebbins, who spoke at the celebration.