Malnourishment is afflicting 13 people from four families who have accepted Christ in a village in Laos as government officials distributing rice, livestock and cash to drought-afflicted people bypassed Christians.
“The government wants to give special assistance to the people, but the village headman did not give any to the Christians,” the leader of a native ministry said. “They are waiting until they renounce their faith.”
Ostracized by villagers, the Christians cannot buy rice, salt, soap and other items, he said. Local officials tried to force them to sign confessions and leave the village – twice – which they refused to do because they had nowhere to go, he said.
Village leaders prohibit the Christians from talking with anyone about Christ.
“They are blocking these four families so that they will not have any access either outside or inside the village,” the leader said. “They hope that then they will not be able to survive, and in the end will renounce their faith. Thank you, God, that six of them were able to come to our border seminar to get encouragement from us.”
Drought and Flooding
Many in other villages amid Laos’s thick foliage are also torn between love of the Lord and need for food.
Living in homes of bamboo with thatched roofs or cinderblock with corrugated metal covering, they scrape through each day on dirt floors. 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. Poor villagers rely on rice for three meals each day, but with the drop in the rice harvest in the past year, the ministry leader often gets phone calls from people asking for help, he said.
He refers them to the ministry’s area representative, a pastor who has the means to transport aid – or people so sick they are near death to the hospital.
“He is also calling me for help, especially for widows who need help the most,” the ministry leader said. “Most people who have accepted Jesus are poor people and not able to help themselves. Those living in that area are poor, more than in any other part of Laos, because they do not have land to farm. But there are more new Christians there than in other places of Laos.”
Amid such want, home fellowships are quietly springing up throughout the country.
Along with sharing Christ in seminars, Bible studies and medical missions, native missionaries increasingly are spreading the gospel through communications technology. A live Facebook program began last August that now draws nearly 300,000 viewers, and thousands of others are learning about Christ through MP3 digital audio players.
“I am excited to know that hundreds of thousands of people watch our Facebook Live,” the leaders said. “There are a lot of people commenting and sharing, and there are also people who are accusing us of doing a stupid thing that is against the ethnic culture.”
Among those benefiting from Advanced MP3 (AMP3) players are people who had never heard of Christ. One wrote to the director, “I and my family listened to you saying that Jesus loves us as well as other things, and we asked [a local native missionary] to lead six of us to Jesus Christ. Now in the village only my family are Christians – my wife and four children…I also want you to pray for us, for the village headman came to me and told me to renounce my faith; if not, they want my family to leave the village.”
A Christian listener wrote that he and his wife received an AMP3 from a native missionary and found the teaching well-crafted and edifying.
“My wife and I listen to it every day at home and at the rice field, too,” he wrote. “I let those who are not Christians listen, and they are very interested, but they have not accepted Jesus yet. Please pray for us and for them.”
Through the MP3 messages, USB sticks, SD cards, a radio program, seminars and other outreaches by pastors and evangelists, 2,031 people put their faith in Christ in 12 provinces last year, he said. In the process, the missionaries have established 24 new house churches.
“These members include other tribal groups that we are reaching out to,” he said.
The ministry distributed 318 Lao Bibles and 40 Thai Bibles to those who attended the seminars and distributed 527 MP3 players. Viewers of the live Facebook program wrote numerous favorable comments.
“I am so proud of your preaching on Facebook Live,” one wrote. “Thank you, God, that I am able to listen to it every time, and I believe that this program is the light and the salt of the world. This program changed my heart, and I believe that it will change other people’s hearts, too.”
Such missionaries are working to bring the light of Christ to unreached people throughout the country. Please consider a donation today to equip them to show Christ’s love to the spiritually hurting and the physically hungry.