Montagnard: Government Destroys First Christian Degar Church
Below is a statement issued by the Montagnard Foundation :
On March 13, 2009, the Vietnamese government demolished the first Degar Church that had ever been built. This historical structure was located at Buon Ale “A” in the city of Buonmathuot in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Degar Christians mourn the loss of this church, which they hold dearly as the origin of Christianity in the central highlands.
After the invasion of the North Vietnamese Communists in 1975, this church at Buon Ale “A” as well as all Degar churches in the Central Highlands were forcefully closed and all Degar believers throughout the Central Highlands were prevented from practicing their faith and worshiping God in churches. Whoever dared to assemble more than two people would be arrested and sent to prison, tortured or killed. There was nothing that Degar believers could do except conceal their faith and begin running underground house churches. Incidentally, the corrupt Vietnamese government continues to prevent Degar Christians from assembling for the purpose of worship, which is why our Christian Sister Puih H’Bat was arrested on April 11th of 2008. We still do not know her whereabouts or her condition; no one can tell us if she is even alive or dead.
The Degar church at Buon Ale “A” was the first church ever built for the Degar people in the Central Highlands. From this church, Christianity spread throughout the Central Highlands, resulting in hundreds of thousands of Degar people converting to Christianity. Degar Christians consider this building as home church and somewhat of a sacred historical site. Therefore, all Degar Christians in the Central Highlands and abroad are upset and saddened by the cruelty and evil actions of the Vietnamese government.
As a means of peaceful protest, on May 1, 2009, around 86,829 Degar Christians in the Central Highlands and abroad stayed in their homes, not going anywhere for three days and three nights, to mourn for our church because we have failed in protecting our Historical Church at Buon Ale “A”. We pray that our almighty God will forgive us for our failure. We also prayed that our Almighty God would forgive the Vietnamese government for its deplorable actions and also touch the hearts of Vietnamese officials so that they will understand that their actions were wrong and stop persecuting Degar Christians.
The numbers of Degar Christians who participated in this time of mourning and prayer are as follows:
• In the province of Daklak there were 59,000 Degar Christians from 115 villages had prticipated.
• In the province of Gialai there were 15,447 Degar Christians from 149 villages had participated.
• In the province of Dak Nong there were 7,964 Degar Christians from 47 villages had participated.
• In the province of Kontum there were 2,448 Degar Christians from 32 villages had participated.
• In the province of Phu Yen there were 920 Degar Christians from 32 villages had participated.
• In addition to these 86,129 Degar Christians in the Central Highlands, around 700 of Degar Church (Sang Ae Die Degar, Inc.) in Greensboro, North Carolina, USA had participated.