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
Native Christian workers planted 26 churches over a six-month period in two ways: They led people to Christ at seminars that families from different areas attended, with those people going back to their villages to worship in their homes, while other churches began as ministry teams brought the gospel to various districts.
A 28-year-old woman wondered if she had offended local spirits or failed to sacrifice enough to them, as neither they nor doctors had healed her of an illness. A native Christian worker visiting her village told her that Christ had the power to heal her, and she invited Him into her life. She obtained relief after workers prayed for her, her health much improved over time and she stopped fearing spirits.
A pastor in Laos recently went to an area heavily influenced by “old school” soldiers in the communist country who strongly detested Christianity, the leader of a native ministry said. “The pastor took the risk to evangelize in this area and led 20 people to the Lord,” the leader said. “The village authorities were shocked, and the police came to drive the pastor away – with the threat to arrest him, if he returned.” The pastor told the ministry leader and others at a conference that he was not frightened by the threats.
In spite of persecution and other hardships, godly and faithful leaders have helped a native ministry to grow God’s kingdom exponentially. Workers have led more than 30,000 people to Christ and planted more than 250 churches since the ministry began 26 years ago.
A stagnant house church increased from seven families to 22 families after native Christian workers gave members 10 radios for sharing electronically loaded gospel messages. “They love it very much and listen to it every day, even when going to rice fields to work,” the ministry leader said.
After three years of COVID-19 pausing a native ministry from holding seminars, local Christian workers were overjoyed to resume the meetings with 60 pastors and other leaders to advise and encourage them. At another seminar where 106 attended, 46 had been persecuted, including one who was imprisoned for traveling to unreached people.