Trung led Vietnam church recognition

Nguyen Quang Trung Nguyen Quang Trung

Nguyen Quang Trung, 84, who led the Vietnam Mennonite Church through the hardships of restriction to official recognition, died March 23.

Trung showed “patient persistence in his tireless efforts to promote and legally confirm a Mennonite presence in Vietnam,” said Gerry Keener, a nonresident missionary who was teaching in Ho Chi Minh City at the time of Trung’s death.

Raised by his Christian father after his mother died when he was 5, Trung studied in Saigon and was active in the Gia Dinh congregation of the Evangelical Church. In 1965 he began working in the student reading room of the Vietnam Mennonite Mission community center and assisted in forming the church that developed there.

When war came to the Saigon and Gia Dinh areas in 1968, his wife, Ngo Thi Bich, fled with their young daughter and only the clothes on their backs.

The revolution that followed the end of the war in 1975 brought dramatic changes to South Vietnam. Religious activities were restricted. The local Mennonite community asked Trung to give leadership to the church. Eventually, the church was forbidden to meet, and church properties were confiscated. Trung’s family was ordered to the countryside to develop new farmland, but they stayed in Ho Chi Minh City.

Trung was frequently interrogated by police. With great difficulty, he registered his home as a meeting place for the congregation. Permission needed to be requested from authorities for each meeting. Police sometimes dismissed the authorized meetings.

When government restrictions declined, Trung was committed to seeking official recognition for the church. In the late 1990s, authorities continued to deny permission for the Binh Thanh (formerly Gia Dinh) congregation to meet for worship and threatened to confiscate Trung’s home.

Active in teaching baptismal candidates, Trung rented vans to take new Christians to lakes and beaches to be baptized. He baptized 150 believers into the Binh Thanh congregation and nearly 300 believers of an ethnic minority group in Quang Ngai province.

With the beginning of an evangelistic ministry initiated by the North American Vietnamese Mennonite Fellowship in 1998 and the request of an independent cluster of churches from Hoi An, a united Mennonite conference formed in 2003 with Trung as president.

Government approval to engage in religious activities came in 2007. In 2016, Trung ordained 26 pastors. He retired in 2016 after two terms as president of Vietnam Mennonite Church.
Trung is survived by his wife, three children and four grandchildren.

Sign up to our newsletter for important updates and news!