Open Doors, October 16, 2023 (excerpts)
Philemon was a shaman when he chose to follow Jesus. Now he spreads the gospel in Vietnam, despite surveillance from local Communist authorities.
Not even oppressive surveillance will stop Philemon evangelising in Vietnam. Not after the change he’s seen in his life.
He had hit rock bottom. He was deeply in debt, addicted to alcohol – and now he and his family were facing eviction.
Philemon had been the community’s shaman – a person believed to be able to communicate with the spirit world, often on behalf of other people. Philemon had studied shamanism for five years, using rituals and mantras to supposedly speak to the spirit world. He was often called to remove an evil spirit from someone who thought they were being attacked by one.
“I was like a master or a saviour to my community,” he remembers. “I was very famous at that time. I succeeded in helping them but not my own family. The bank came and notified me that they will confiscate my property.”
Unable to see a way out of his problems, he bought poison with the intention of killing himself, along with his wife and two children. But the day before he planned to go through with it, he visited his sister to say goodbye – and she shared the gospel with him.
That night, Philemon threw the poison away. A journey of transformation had begun that saw Philemon and his wife encounter Jesus and choose to follow Him.