An historic event happened over the weekend in communist Vietnam, when tens of thousands of Christians worshipped publicly. This event came about after Vietnamese Christians had suffered many years of persecution and hardships.
It's a sight that many thought they would never see -- the gospel openly proclaimed in the communist country.
For decades most of Vietnam's Christians have been forced to worship in secret.
However, over the weekend, the government gave permission for house churches to hold an outdoor evangelistic service and more than 35,000 people showed up.
It is a testimony to the faith and perseverance of the country's church leaders.
"As Americans we take these kinds of things for granted the opportunity to gather and assemble and to worship and celebrate Christmas but in Vietnam the government has not allowed this and there has not been something like this for 35 years and this is historic," said Bruce Jackson of Jackson Family Ministries.
Most Vietnamese have never heard the gospel message. When the pastor gave the altar call, some 8,000 people responded.
CBN News Asia Correspondent Lucille Talusan attended the service and confirmed the number of people at the event.
"Thousands of people came forward to surrender their lives to Jesus," Talusan said. "Actually the stage could not hold all the people and so most of the people were on the ground."
"I feel very happy, because I can become a Christian," said attendee Tram Nguyen. "I cannot describe my feeling now, really very happy. I can cry."
Overwhelmed by the success of the event, the organizers fell to their knees in thanks.
It would be premature to say that religious freedom has come to Vietnam.
In fact, police stopped several buses carrying Christians from outlying provinces to keep them from attending the event. Nevertheless, the leaders are encouraged to press on until the gospel message is heard throughout their country.
"God is working marvelously in ways we cannot imagine," said Pastor Khoa Ho, president of Vietnam Evangelical Fellowship. "We have experienced many great things that God is doing in this country and so we believe there will be more greater things to come."
"We dream that in every village in Vietnam we will have big crusade so that countless, millions of Vietnamese come to know the Lord," said Pastor Daniel Nhan, vice president of Vietnam Evangelical Fellowship.