The first Christian public library has opened in Vietnam. This success came after a six-month process last year seeking approval from Vietnam’s Communist Government.
The library in Ho Chi Minh City opened last July and is already stocked with 5000 titles. This includes Vietnamese texts and resources in biblical studies, theology, ministry, translations and history. It also has a room full of English-language books such as commentaries, as well as titles on philosophy, sociology, languages and the other humanities. Le adds that a digital archive of Vietnamese Protestantism is also being planned.
Asked about other such archives for Vietnamese Christians, Le responds: “For the Vietnamese Protestants, there is no other alternative.”
Theological colleges and seminaries have libraries which are not open to the public, while churches have not been able to offer the volume or range of a well-stocked library. “In the past, the churches only have what they call ‘reading rooms’, with very few books,” says Le.
Buddhism is the main religion for Vietnam’s 97 million people, while Christians (mostly Catholic) account for about 10 per cent of the population. Churches must register with the government for official status as a religious organisation. Bible Society is unable to receive this status because it is not a church. So operating as a business, Le and his team work with churches to support what they do.
Many Vietnamese Christians have already donated to the library as word spreads about the value of contributing to its shelves. “They have their own personal library and they decided they wanted to put it in the Christian library because it would be a place for all,” Le explains.
“One pastor in the Mekong Delta has a very special collection of all of the hymn books ever published in Vietnam. He decided that he wants them to be in the library so other people can look at that collection.”
These gifts from people’s personal collections are true acts of generosity. From across the waters we can contribute financially to help this library stock up and serve our brothers and sisters in Vietnam. It’s part of Bible Society Australia’s important advocacy work, where we speak and act to recommend, defend, and champion the truth, beauty and goodness of the Bible.