300 Laotian Believers face eviction from Nongpong Village
August 28, 2012
Laos is a narrow, landlocked country mainly situated between Thailand and Vietnam. It is slightly larger than the state of Utah. After the communist takeover in 1975, one of their goals was to eradicate Christianity from the country. Even though their constitution professes freedom of religion, any expression of these beliefs must be "beneficial to the country and people." Since Buddhism has had a major influence for centuries in southeast Asia, it is accepted as part of the Laotian culture. Christianity, with its much smaller following, is largely looked upon as a western religion, and viewed by authorities with suspicion.
Mr. Bountheung is an indigenous missionary who moved to Nongpong village 10 years ago to become a part of the community and reach out with the love of Christ. He built a house, worked the land, and carried out the duties of a good village resident.
But this year he has been interrogated three times by village officials, forced to sell his property and finally arrested.
What is his crime? He is a faithful Christian witness in a part of Laos that is particularly hostile to Christians. Authorities view him as a propagator of a foreign religion that is subversive, and not "beneficial to the country and people" of Laos.
Mr. Bountheung is not the only victim of persecution in Nongpong village. Through his witness, 300 of his neighbors have also come to know Christ and regularly meet in their homes for worship. Now these 300 believers must either renounce their faith or be permanently evicted from their village and driven into the jungle where they will have to survive on their own.
In fact Laos has been a dangerous place for Christians for several years now. In a similar incident in 2010, 48 believers living in Katin village had their belongings confiscated or destroyed by local officials and were forced deep into the jungle where they were left without food, extra clothing, shelter, or any means of survival. Even in cases where Christians are not immediately banished from their homes, they may still face persecution by being denied their rights as citizens such as being barred from public education, medical care, and access to drinking water.
Christian Aid is responding with prayer and financial support for native missionary leaders. The aid will help persecuted believers rebuild in the event that the eviction is carried out and they have to leave everything behind.
Update: Three Pastors Arrested in Phin District
September 20, 2012 - Persecution of Christians in Laos is ramping up according to believers in Laos. Read the story on www.hrwlrf.net