26/02/2005 00:00 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

The bells tolling the good

The children’s rhythmical readingnbsp; of the Bible was heard amidst the immense green of the rubber, cashew and coffee plantations. And the cathedral’s bells kept tolling every day as if to take the local people on the right path to the good…nbsp;

photo Tu lieu
Pastor Y Siok Nie at the Convention of Blea Diocese
(in Buon Ma Thuot City) for the 2004-2006 tenure.nbsp;

photo Kim Son
Pastor Dieu Molong (2nd right) talking with VNP reporters about the local Protestants’ life in Tho Son Village.nbsp;nbsp;

photo Kim Son
Pastor Dieu Molong visiting
a family in Tho Son Village.nbsp;

photo Thinh Phat
H’luon Nie teaching the children prayers in the Ede language.nbsp;

photo Tu lieu
Dak Lak Province Chairman Nguyen Van Lang attending the convention of Buon Ma Thuot City’s Protestant Chapter for the 2004-2006 tenure.nbsp;

photo Minh Quoc
nbsp;One more house was built
in Hamlet 4, Tho Son Village.nbsp;

The children’s rhythmical readingnbsp; of the Bible was heard amidst the immense green of the rubber, cashew and coffee plantations. And the cathedral’s bells kept tolling every day as if to take the local people on the right path to the good…nbsp;

The lush and luxuriant cashew orchards were shedding their leaves and the verdant rubber plantations led us to the adjacent areas of the Western Highlands: i.e. Tho Son Village, Bu Dang District, Binh Phuoc Province. Here the M’nong and the S’tieng ethnic groups make up 4,557 of its total population of 10,493, 60% of them following Protestantism.

At Son Hoa Protestant Chapter of the M’nong minority, Pastor Dieu Molong took us to their chapel, plain and simple, but large enough to house about 200 people.nbsp; He was ordained to Pastorship in September 2004. The representatives of the local authority and mass organizations came to attend the inauguration, congratulating him upon his assumption of office. The Pastor received instruction in Theology at Quang Duc School in 1970-1974. He had translated the Bible into M’nong language for the sake of delivering sermons to the M’nong believers. Through his talks, we came to know the local people were very gentle and virtuous, with a rich creed and an avid interest in doing business as well as a keen awareness of making inputs in their children’s studies.

Having left Tho Son, we were headed for Dak Lak, where misinformation on the ethnic groups’ freedom of religion had for some time emerged. Mr. Ngo Luc, Dty. Chief of the Provincial Committee for Religion said in the whole province there were 108,000 Protestants, 106,000 of them ethnic believers. Over the past few years, the Government has launched numerous socio-economic programmes to improve the living conditions of the Western Highlanders, especially in the areas of health and education.nbsp;

Pastor Y Siok Nie and Vicar Y Djol Nie welcomed us with smiles and led us into the chapel of the Balea Diocese in Buon Ma Thuot City. Our talk with the pastor of the Ede ethnic group grew more and more open-hearted and amiable. He said the local people were leading a more stable life, participating in all the social activities, strictly observing the laws and at the same time keeping all their religious tenets. The children start learning the prayers at three; the grand festivals like the Easter Day, the Ascension Day, the Five-Week Day are celebrated in all solemnity. Mr. Nguyen Van Lang, Chairman of Dak Lak Provincial People’s Committee attended the Convention of the Balea Protestant Chapter for the 2004-2006 tenure.

Pointing to the hall with corrugated tin-roofs, Pastor Y Siok Nie said: “At the moment that hall serves as the chapel, where the faithful hold their religious services while waiting for the completion of another ferro-concrete chapel, being built on a large area of 1,500 sq-m., allotted by the local authorities.” nbsp;

Then he took us to a class in the care of his own daughter H’Luon Nie, who was helping children to learn the prayers in the Ede language. She told us that the prayer-books had been provided by the Church and translated into the Ede language by the clergymen in the Chapter Board. would perform their service from 8 to 10, and the young people would usually practise their singing in the afternoon. The learning of the prayers was held in three groups: the little children, the teenagers and the adults. Also, a choir of about 20 male and female singers practise their hymn singing each day to the accompaniment of an organ.

Life on the Western Highlands is now changing. Living a good religious and secular life is what the Protestants of the congregation on this basaltic soil follow.

Story: Thinh Phat


nbsp;