By Melissa Denny
In the country of Vietnam, Christians are persecuted daily for their faith. This play focuses on a pastor and his wife who lead a secret church in their own home. Because of his faith, the pastor is imprisoned, and the drama follows their situation through letters to each other during the husband's jail time.
This drama was presented by our church's Voice of the Martyr's teen group to inform the church audience of the persecution of Christians that runs rampant in foreign countries. Many of the parts of this play are recorded previously onto cassette tapes. During the jail scenes, we used old guns (totally disabled of firing!) to set the scene and give the necessary effect; however, some small children (three and four year olds) did get frightened, so you may choose not to use these props, or just decide that this play is just not suitable for very young kids.
Husband and wife: Nguyen (pronounced N-eye-en)....male (attire should
be just a plain white shirt and pants)
LeiLon (pronounced lay-lon).......female (attire: during most of the drama, LeiLon is pregnant, therefore a skirt and loose shirt or sweater should be worn)
Guard 1 & Guard 2 - Guard 1 is of higher rank than guard 2
Sister of Leilon: Lihn (pronounced Lin)
Church-members: as many as possible to fit in secret-church scene, only four have speaking parts: "Lee" gives the opening prayer, members 1, 2, & 3 share testimonies during service. A few (2-3) children make the church scene seem more real also.
We had only one stage, split into two by a curtain. One side (stage LEFT) was used for the two church scenes as well as the home scene. A door must open onto or very near to stage LEFT (audience's left). Stage RIGHT (audience's right) was the jail cell. Two lights are used to make scene changes from one side to the other.
Stage LEFT: a table and chair, some low benches (used to elevate church members a little), Bible, paper & pencil, clothes basket or market basket filled with vegetables/food (preferably wicker or something else that looks old), a small birthday cake
Stage RIGHT: a long table, used as Nguyen's bed, paper & pencil, small metal bowl or cup filled with rice, 3-4 letters in envelopes (dirty and wrinkled) guns-MAKE SURE they CANNOT BE FIRED IN ANY WAY!
(Stage RIGHT: Nguyen is in jail cell, sitting on his bed and writing, while a tape of his voice plays:)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age. My name is Nguyen Van Ho. I live in the country of Vietnam, where Christianity is considered a threat to the communistic government. Daily, Christians are being beaten and imprisoned for their faith. I am writing this from a small, dark cell which has been my home for the past year. Why am I here? For the simple reason that I was called by God to preach the gospel...no matter what the cost. I can still remember clearly that day my wife came to me....
(Stage LEFT: pastor's home, LeiLon is pregnant, pastor sits at table reading Bible and wife approaches him as she speaks:)
LeiLon: Nguyen, are you sure it's safe to have the bible study tonight?
Nguyen: LeiLon, you know that as much as I long to, I can't guarantee our safety. There's always the chance that this meeting will be our last, but it's a risk we must take.
LeiLon: I know you're right, but do you remember the Trung family?
Nguyen: Aren't they the ones who started a house church in DaNang a few months ago?
LeiLon: Yes, that's them. Well, when I was at the market today, I overheard two men talking about them. It seems that one of Pastor Trung's so-called church members turned out to be a government spy. At their last meeting, just three nights ago, he brought along the police. They dragged the pastor and two other men who were also leaders in the fellowship, out into the street. When the men refused to renounce their faith, each was forced to their knees and shot in the head while their families were made to stand by and watch. Nguyen, I don't want this to happen to us. I couldn't bear to hove our child grow up without a father. I'm just so scared! (begins to cry)
Nguyen: Don't be afraid, LeiLon. God has promised to never leave or forsake His children. No matter what happens, He will still be right here with us.
LeiLon: Thank you for always being here to reassure me when I have fears of doubts. The Lord has truly blessed me with a man of great faith for a husband.
Nguyen: I believe the Lord had laid a plan upon my heart; I need you to bake a cake...
(lights off, Nguyen returns to stage Right for jail scene, during scene 3, table is moved to back of house scene on stage left and benches are pulled out from walls a little, church members silently take places)
(Jail cell, Nguyen writes as a tape of his voice plays:)
So LeiLon hurried off to bake a cake and this was my plan: from now on, if any unknowns should come to the door during our "underground" service, we would stage a birthday party. Little did I know how soon this plan would actually be needed....
(voice stops, back to stage Left for first church service)
(Church members are present and seated on benches)
Nguyen: Good evening everyone!
Members: (hushed) Good evening.
Nguyen: I'd like to welcome you all to our service and thank you for coming out tonight. I am confident that the Lord will truly bless you for your efforts. Let's open with a word of prayer. Lee, will you please thank our Heavenly Father for bringing us all safely together?
Lee: Our gracious Father, we stand before your throne, thanking and praising you or gathering us together once again. We thank you for the true Salvation that you have provided for each and every one of us and for physical safety. Please, meet with us tonight, Lord. In the name of your precious son Jesus Christ, Amen.
Nguyen: Let us join together in lifting our hearts and voices up to heaven.
Church member: I'd like to share a word of testimony! May I see the Bible for a moment? (Nguyen hands her the Bible) Thank you. Tonight, as I was preparing to come here, the lord brought this verse to my mind. It's found in Galatians 1, verse 10. It says, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God. Or am I trying to please me? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ". Does this verse not relate to our present circumstances? In our country today, to please men is to deny Christ. My prayer for each one of us is that we will never stop seeking God's approval in order to gain men's.
Nguyen: Thank you (sister or brother). It is so important that we not give into the false belief of our people that there is no God. In Romans we are told that those who chose to ignore the fact that He is God are without excuse since He has Himself clearly known to us not only through the Bible, but in all creation around us as well.
Church member 2: I cannot miss this opportunity to tell of God's great power and mercy. As you know, I have been involved with an American smuggling Bibles to our dear friends in other churches. I had just picked up my small package of New Testaments, and was traveling to Ho Chi Minh when I came across a random roadblock, where soldiers were searching everyone. I could not turn back. I was trembling with fear as I slowly progressed through the line. I thought that I would be imprisoned, and I prayed for my family. But when it came my turn to be searched, God blinded their eyes, and they didn't even see me. I passed through without being searched, and with God's help, safely delivered the Bibles. Praise God for his mercy!!
(LeiLon leads members in another song)
Church member 3: The other day as I was walking on the path to the well, I came upon a young mother who was slowed down by three young children. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to speak with her about my faith. She asked many questions, most of which I was able to answer. Suddenly, a soldier appeared on the path coming towards us. I was frightened because I wasn't sure what the woman would do, and I silently prayed for the Lord's help in the situation. To my surprise, the girl began talking about the recent lack of rain causing the drought, until the soldier was clearly out of hearing range. Then, she began asking more questions, and finally asked how she could invite Jesus to be her Savior also! Before we departed, she had accepted the Lord's great mercy and forgiveness, and I was also able to tell her children a story from the Bible. I gave her a Bible to read and I was so thankful to the Lord for allowing me to meet with her, for I am sure that her new faith is something she will share with her children.
(Church member is seated and all sing, Before they finish, the song is interrupted by the same church member that said the prayer)
Praying church member: (hushed, nervously) Someone's coming!
(The previously mentioned cake is quickly set out on the table and the members begin singing "Happy Birthday", as someone knocks on the side door. The knock should come well before the end and the members should stop singing as in curiosity.Guards 1 and 2 enter the room, Guard 2 carries gun and circles room suspiciously)
Guard 1: Open up!
(Nguyen opens door casually, Guard 1 looks only at Nguyen as he speaks)
Guard 1: What is the reason for this gathering?
Nguyen: We're having a celebration, sir.
Guard 1: You didn't register this gathering with the proper authorities, did you?
Nguyen: No sir, we didn't.
Guard 1: (gets right in Nguyen's face, grabs collar) Well don't let it happen again, got it??
Nguyen: Yes, sir.
(Guards 1 and 2 exit, lights off, church members stay on scene, a silent and quick change of seating arrangements makes it more natural, so the members aren't in the exact same seat as in church service 1, Nguyen moves to stage RIGHT for jail scene)
(Jail cell, tape of Nguyen's voice as he writes:)
After the authorities left, we spent two intense hours on our knees, thanking our Heavenly Father for deliverance and seeking His perfect will for our futures. The question was this: should we give into our fears and discontinue our services altogether or should we just hold off for a few months? Before the evening was through, we had all agreed to come together again in three month's time. The memory of this next meeting still burns in my mind...
(voice and lights off, Nguyen back to stage LEFT for church service)
(Pastor's home, second church service)
Nguyen: Greetings in Christ, my brethren. I praise the Lord for His abundant mercy in providing safety for us as we have come to worship together. It is a step of faith that we take in meeting here, but one that I am confident the Lord will bless. Do not fear in coming here, or cling too closely to this life, for we know that even if we are killed for our faith, it is merely a blessing to us, for we may go on to meet our Jesus. I ask you to not lose faith in the power and the mercy of God, who alone raises and destroys governments. We know that it is in His plan to have a cruel ruler over our land, for a reason beyond our understanding, and it is not our place to question the Almighty's plan. I beg you not to doubt Him, my friends, for the Apostle James says that "...he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind." (James 1:6-7)
There is no place for doubt here, brothers, for we are blessed even more than those who possess the freedom we so desire. This is so because our Lord has assured us that our blessings will equal the fierceness of our persecutions. The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians that, "For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ." The Apostle James said to the scattered tribes of his people, to "...count it all joy when you fall into various trials." (James 1:2) And Jesus said that "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so the persecuted the prophets who were before you." It is not a choice of whether or not to take this suffering joyfully then, but a command. We must bear our difficulties with Jesus' help. Never forget that blessed day on which we will meet our Savior, and we will never suffer again. Maranatha, Lord Jesus!
And my brothers, do not hate those that persecute us. They are merely fulfilling their part of God's plan. We must not hate them, for murder begins in the heart. Jesus said that "Whoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgement."(Matt 5:22) He also commanded us to "Love you enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be the sons of you Father in Heaven. (Matt. 5:44-45a)
My brothers, even if we were to be split up, and never meet again on this earth, we must never hate them that did this...
(Guards 1 and 2 kick door open and rush in, grabbing two of the nearest people [preferably male characters], other church members jump up and run to back of stage in frightened huddle, trying to protect children)
Guard 1: Alright! Nobody move!
Nguyen: (standing in center of room, in front of women and children, voice is strong and confident) :
Wait! Please don't harm these people! I take full responsibility for this meeting!
Guard 1:(gruffly) You'll regret this!
Guards 1 & 2: (let go of two other people and both take hold of pastor, heading for the door roughly)
LeiLon: (tries to rush toward him, other members hold her back)
No! Don't hurt him, please don't leave me Nguyen!
Nguyen: (over his shoulder and strongly): God be with you all. Keep the faith brothers, keep the faith!
(voice fades as he exits)
(LeiLon darts toward door but collapses in middle of floor crying)
(Church members crouch by her trying to comfort her, many are crying. Lights fade. During the next two scenes, benches are silently pushed back to sides of room, and table and chair are pulled to middle.)
(Stage RIGHT, jail cell, Nguyen is writing as tape plays:)
So they brought me here to this prison in Hanoi. At once, I cried out to God, begging for a reason as to why He had allowed this to happen to me. Then the Lord spoke to my heart and said, "My son, why do you doubt Me? Do I not know what is best for my children?"
Suddenly a peace filled me and I was calm. I knew that the Lord had brought me here for a reason and I was determined to fulfill His perfect plan. But I knew little of what I would need to endure before this fulfillment...
(voice off, lights off, Nguyen hides paper and pencil during light-out, next "flash-back" scene takes place in jail cell also)
(Nguyen is lying on his bed, guard 2 enters from LEFT stage door, crosses stage to jail cell, carrying bowl of rice)
Guard 2: Hey! Get up and eat this rice, it's all you'll be getting for the day. We leave for the mountains in 10 minutes, where you'll join the rest of the prisoners in crushing rock...
(lights off stage RIGHT, on stage LEFT where LeiLon sits at table writing)
(LeiLon writes as a tape plays her voice:)
LeiLon: Dearest Nguyen,
I do not know if you will ever receive this, but I must try. It has been three days since your arrest. At first I tried to bargain with God, I even offered Him our unborn child, anything to have you back. Then the Lord showed me that He has a reason and purpose for everything, even this. Everyday, He is giving me the strength I need to proceed and believe. The day after you were taken, sister came to me. She says that she will stay as long as she is needed and will take care of me and the baby. Nguyen, just think! This may be the answer to all our prayers for her! I pray that He will give me the right words to share with her at just the right moment. She says the men have decided to take turns preaching until your return. You are in my thoughts constantly and my prayers always. All my love, LeiLon...
(Lihn enters, carrying basket with groceries)
LeiLon (starts to get up): Oh, let me help you with those.
Lihn: No, no, I'm all right. You shouldn't be lifting anything heavy, remember?
LeiLon: I know, and I just want to thank you for coming to help me. I don't know what I'd do without you. You'll never know just how much this really means to me...
Lihn: Now that's enough. There's no need to thank me. You go and rest and I'll start dinner.
(Lights off, light on stage RIGHT where Nguyen writes as a tape plays)
(Nguyen sits on bed writing, tape playing of his voice)
Each day, before dawn and after eating my one cup of race, I accompany my fellow prisoners to the mountains. There we spend long, hard days crushing rock. The heat is almost unbearable. I have already seen several men die up there from exhaustion and hunger, and just when I think I can't go on anymore, He gives me the strength that I so desperately need...
(Lights off, Nguyen silently moves to exit door)
(Once lights are turned on stage RIGHT again, Nguyen comes in as though he has been working all day, falls to knees by bed and prays)
Oh Lord, I'm trying to trust you, but sometimes it's just so hard. I'm so hungry and I feel so weak. Father, I don't want to doubt You; please help me. Please give me opportunities, Lord, to share my faith in You with the lost souls that surround me here everyday. They live without the Hope that I have in what's to come. God, I thank You that You are the Protector of my soul. Even if men kill my body, I know that my soul belongs to You...
(Lights and tape ON stage LEFT where LeiLon sits at table writing while tape of her voice plays)
Dear Nguyen, A month has now passed since you were taken from me. We had another secret service last night. I invited Linh to join us, but she quickly declined, saying she had better things to do with her time. God knows the burden I have for her soul, and I will continue praying for His perfect timing. The meeting was very powerful, much of it was spent in fervent prayer for you. I pray that God is still using you, even in prison, to bring lost souls to Him. I miss you so much.
(Lights off. During scene 13, LeiLon silently exits and removes evidence of pregnancy, returns to table)
(Tape of Nguyen's voice as he writes)
I spent my nights worrying about my wife. Was she well? Had our baby been born yet? I prayed for news and God answered my prayer in a very unexpected way...
(Guard 2 enters door, carrying 3 or 4 dirty, wrinkled envelopes, walks to Nguyen's "cell")
Guard 2: Hey you!
Nguyen (stops writing, looks up ): Yes?
Guard 2: I brought you some mail. Keep it quiet- this is totally against regulations. If my superiors hear about this, I'm in for it.
Nguyen (takes letters): Thank you so much, but why are you doing this for me?
Guard 2: Well, I've been watching you, and I can see that you're not like the rest of these guys. Why are you here anyway? I mean, I know that you're some sort of preacher man and that's why we arrested you, but don't you see? All you have to do is tell them that you've changed your mind and don't believe in a god after all, and you're free to return to your home and family.
Nguyen: I'm here because I do believe there is a God and He has brought me here for a reason. Can I tell you about Him?
(Lights off stage RIGHT, long enough for Guard 2 to exit silently, then lights back on stage RIGHT)
(tape of Nguyen's voice, he writes)
That night I was able to share with him how God had sent His only son Jesus to die on the cross to save us from our sins. He listened quietly, stopping me only a few times to ask questions. When I was through, I asked him if he would like to give his life to Jesus. With tears in his eyes, he knelt by my bed and cried out to God, begging for forgiveness and asking Christ to come into his heart. I now know the reason why God brought me here...
(LeiLon writes as tape of her voice plays)
To my Beloved,
Nguyen, I am writing to inform you of the loss of our child. Eight days ago he arrived- stillborn. A beautiful son, I wanted him so badly. He looked perfect, with ten little toes and dark, downy hair, but he never drew his first breath. "The Lord gave and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Our little Nguyen is safe in the arms of Jesus now...
Linh: Are you sure you should be up yet? How are you feeling?
LeiLon: Yes, I'm feeling much stronger now, and it's such a beautiful day, isn't it? Linh, we have so much to be thankful for!
Linh: Why are you so happy? I've tried to understand, but I can't. What do you have to be thankful for? You've lost everything, first Nguyen, and now the baby.
LeiLon: Not everything, I still have God.
Linh: Yeah right, God. A lot of good He's done you.
LeiLon: Oh but He has. I would have never made it through all this without Him, and I am so thankful that He has sent you in my time of need. But most importantly, I thank Him for the salvation He has provided for me through His son Jesus Christ. Even if I never see my husband again on this earth, I know that we and our little son will be together again someday in heaven.
Linh: I don't understand you, if this were me, I wouldn't be able to get up in the morning. Not only do you get up, but you face each day with a smile. I want to have the same peace in my heart that you have. Will you help me?
(Lights off, lights on stage RIGHT)
(Nguyen reads a letter as tape plays of LEILON's voice)
Leilon: Praise God , He is so good. Today Linh's name was added to the Book of Life. She says that God used our trials to minister to her. I now know that He truly works all things together for good.
Love and Prayers, LeiLon
(tape and lights off, Nguyen pretends to write)
(Nguyen writes as tape of voice plays)
And so you have my story thus far. I share it with you not to gain your pity, but to challenge and encourage you in your faith. They say that in America people are allowed to freely worship God. My people experience this kind of freedom only in their dreams. I also write this letter to make you aware of the fact that brothers and sisters really are suffering persecution even today, not just in Vietnam, but around the world. In closing I have just one request- please, remember us in your prayers.
In Christ Jesus, Nguyen Van Ho.
(Guard 1 leads Guard 2 into Nguyen's cell from door, with quick, angry steps, voice is loud and gruff)
Guard 1: Here he is. This is the one who's been brain-washing all my prisoners. I warned him once, but now it's too late. He will die for his foolishness. Take him away!
Guard 2: I can't.
Guard 1: (yelling) What do you mean you can't? You can and you will - that's an order!
Guard 2: (With more confidence, looking right at Guard 1): No. I'm sorry sir, but the same God that this man is willing to give his life for has saved me as well.
Guard 1: (Screaming) What are you saying?!
Guard 2: I'm saying that I am a believer, and cannot kill this man.
Guard 1: Then you will die with him!
(Guard 1 grabs them Guard 2 and Nguyen and forcefully drags them away out door. After a few seconds, two gunshots are heard)
© Melissa Denny 1999
All rights reserved
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged.
In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed.
She may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org