Families Face Expulsion from Laos Village
December 12, 2013
Another threat of forcible removal looms large for a group of Christian villagers in rural Laos, this time in the Savannakhet province of the country.
Five families living in the village of Natahall in the Phin district received an eviction notice December 2, according to an email from a ministry in Laos.
The heads of household for each of the families were listed as: Mr. A-Boun (family of 4), Mr. Lahaw (family of 4), Mr. Bountun (family of 4), Mrs. Achak (family of 2), and Mr. Sorn (family of 10).
“They received the expulsion order because they have embraced the Christian faith,” stated the ministry representative. “The authorities consider the embracing of the Christian faith contrary to local beliefs and customs.”
As specified in the report, the authorities who ordered the eviction of believers in Natahall village are:
- Mr. Amka, chief of Natahall village of Phin district, Savannakhet province
- Mr. Juayjong, religious affairs of Natahall village of Phin district, Savannakhet province
- Mr. Bouthong, Saybang Hiang sub-district police of Phin district, Savannakhet province
“The chief of Natahall village, along with the village elders, continues to try to force our five Christian families to recant of their Christian faith after our Christians refused to abandon their religious beliefs,” wrote the Lao ministry leader. “The authorities threatened that if they insist on embracing the Christian faith, they will be held responsible for any death in the village because the village chief and village elders maintain that believing in God violates the village’s longstanding beliefs and customs in the spirits.”
The Voice of the Martyrs reported an incident in March in which the local witch doctor blamed new Christian converts for the separate deaths of three men in their village. He told the community the “strange new religion” had angered the spirits of their ancestors. If the Christians did not renounce their religion or leave the village, more deaths would occur, he warned frightened residents.
Entrenched in traditional animist beliefs, many rural villages in Laos view Christianity as a western religion that threatens their culture and safety. Despite resistance, missionaries from the ministry have made some progress in changing that perspective as Laotians discover God’s gift of salvation is for every tribe and nation. One of the newest churches planted by the ministry was in the Natahall area.
The ministry leader requests prayer that these five families will be permitted to remain in their homes and be a witness for Christ to their neighbors and to the village authorities.
“The village chief has issued legal documents to relocate the Christian believers to other areas. We are still working with these believers,” he said.
Another incident occurred in late August when leaders of a Lao village ordered 11 families comprising 50 individuals to abandon their Christian faith or face eviction. The new believers were charged with following “the religion of a foreign Western power.”
Christian Aid also reported a case in February in which a couple in their 50s was evicted from their home village when they converted to Christianity.