Local Missionaries in Laos
Local Missionaries in Laos
One of the few remaining one-party communist states, the landlocked country of Laos is bordered by Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Thailand, and Vietnam. About twice the size of Pennsylvania, Laos has one of the lowest population densities in Southeast Asia but one of the fasted-growing economies in Asia. Though the infrastructure is underdeveloped throughout the country, which is mainly covered in mountains and forests, private enterprise is allowed. Laos is a source country for trafficking and a producer of opium.
The Lao majority comprises more than half of the population. The second-largest ethnic group in Laos is the Khmu people, among whom the Christian population is rapidly growing. Around 60% of the population is Buddhist with another 32% practicing ethnic religions.
Christians face much persecution from their Buddhist families and communities and from communist authorities, as Christianity is viewed as a threat to be exterminated. Believers worship in underground house churches, which are considered illegal. It is not uncommon for these house churches to be destroyed or for Christians to be kicked out of their own villages, attacked, or arrested.
In a country where rice is already in short supply due to drought in some areas and flooding in others, those who follow Christ are even more threatened as officials withhold rations from those who have left the ancestral gods for Christ. At the same time, villagers refuse to sell staple items to Christians.
“The authorities’ tactics and strategy are to block and oppress Christians in every way to make them discouraged with no way to go,” reported the leader of an indigenous ministry. Not only are Christians denied crucial aid in times of hardship, they are also refused simple dignities like burying their dead in their own village. The leader provided the example of a Christian family whom authorities are pressuring to exhume the body of one of their relatives buried in the village cemetery.
Christians in Laos began facing heightened persecution after the implementation of Decree 315 in 2016, which added numerous restrictions on Christian activity. Laotian Christians are prohibited from meeting together unless they do so inside of a registered church with a registered minister. To curtail the spread of the gospel, the decree also bans Christians from visiting another province without permission from both their provincial leader and the leader of the other province—a feat that is nearly impossible in an area where Christians are considered a problem to be eradicated.
An indigenous ministry that helps to oversee, disciple, and train the over 70,000 Khmu believers in Laos requests assistance for their training programs, Facebook live program that draws hundreds of thousands of viewers, support for persecuted believers, and financial assistance for their ministry workers.
How to Pray for
- Pray for the many unreached ethnic groups in Laos, that God would send workers to tell them about the Lord Jesus, and that many would accept the gospel.
- Pray for the growing number of Christians in Laos, that God would strengthen them to stand firm despite rejection and persecution from friends, family, and neighbors.
- Pray for provision for believers who are denied crucial aid in times of hardship and for ministry workers laboring daily to share the gospel in difficult conditions.
More stories from Laos
A 100-year-old church leader has long attended a local ministry’s training seminars, where he has encouraged others with his faithfulness in the face of persecution. “He has endured so much in his walk with the Lord, to the point that he was imprisoned eight times for his faith,” the native ministry leader said.
The way a businesswoman in Laos drew people to Christ was the way the salvation message often spread in the first century: redeemed merchants and traders planting gospel seeds as they went about their everyday business.
The parents of Kimsan, a 15-year-old boy in Laos, gathered up all his belongings, stuffed them into a bag and threw it at his face.
Filled with sorrow that his wife had left him, a young man in Laos was walking through Buddhist temple grounds when he felt something like a small bird hit him in the chest.
A strange strength came over him, and relatives said that later he became violent and unable to communicate coherently.
His parents and other villagers were unable to calm or communicate with him; they built a cage and locked him inside.
In a country where rice is already in short supply due to drought in some areas and flooding in others, those who follow Christ are even more threatened as officials withhold rations from those who have left the ancestral gods for Christ.
At the same time, villagers refuse to sell staple items to Christians.
Many villagers are torn between love of the Lord and need for food.
Relatives hostile to Christian faith, flooded roads that damage motorcycles, government restrictions on travel – all can instill fear in both native missionaries and new Christians in Laos.
In one of the world’s last bastions of communism, a 2016 religion law known as Decree 315 threatens to cripple efforts to spread the gospel. Gathering together, holding worship services, traveling and planting churches where none existed require prior permission.
Native missionaries are confronting a new level of fear and intimidation.