Introduction / History Vietnam is becoming a prosperous, free market Asian nation under the control of the Vietnamese Communist Party. Citizens are encouraged to start and invest in businesses. Foreign capital has come in and helped the economy grow. The average Vietnamese person can now afford a cell phone, TV, motorbike and modest apartment. The nearly ten thousand Tamils living in Vietnam are participating in this economic expansion. The Tamils speak Tamil at home and Vietnamese at work and with their neighbors. Many also speak English and French which aids them in international business dealings. A small but significant group in the Tamil population in Vietnam is Christian.
What are their lives like? During the French colonial period, South Indians came to Vietnam to work in trade, business and government. The majority of Tamils today live in the major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. A few wealthy Tamils own businesses, banks and resorts. Most would fit into the Vietnamese middle class as shop owners and factory managers. The father is the head of the Tamil family. He shares leadership with his wife over the children. A woman has a higher place in the Tamil home than in most Asian cultures. Parents encourage their sons and daughters to excel in education and obtain college degrees. Tamils in Vietnam try to maintain their ethnic identity. In traditional Tamil culture, the parents chose the spouse of their children. This practice has changed where people frequently choose their life partner with their parents' guidance. Parents strongly encourage their sons and daughters to marry within Hindu Tamil society.
What are their beliefs? The large majority of Tamils in Vietnam practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. They worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Hindus believe that by performing rituals and good works that they will attain moksha or freedom from the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The Tamils visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers, and incense to their gods in hopes of gaining protection and benefits. They do not have a personal or familial relationship with their gods as Christians so with their heavenly Father. There are many forms of Hinduism, each with its own deities and beliefs. Hinduism is seen as compatible with Buddhism, the largest religion practiced in Vietnam. The main yearly holidays of the Tamil people are Holi, the festival of colors and the start of spring, Diwali, the festival of lights, Navratri, the celebration of autumn and Rama Navami, Rama's birthday. A small but growing number of Tamil Hindus are becoming followers of Jesus Christ.
What are their needs? The Tamils living in Vietnam need to hear a clear presentation of the gospel. They need to come to understand that Jesus Christ is not just another Hindu god or guru. He is the unique Son of the one, true God and the only One who can forgive their sins.
Prayer Points Pray the Lord raises up a Disciple Making Movement among the Tamils in Vietnam this decade. Pray the Lord moves Vietnamese believers and churches to help the Tamils to begin their own movement to Christ. Pray that Christian literature and videos become widely available in the Tamil and Vietnamese languages. Ask God to bring Tamil leaders and heads of families into His kingdom.