A district official in Laos recently summoned all Christians in a village and rebuked them for refusing to heed his prior warning to quit worshiping Christ.
Accompanied by policemen and soldiers, he told the Prai tribal Christians in the village (undisclosed for security reasons) that those who refused to renounce Christ would be imprisoned.
“Christianity is a western religion – it cannot be practiced in our country,” he told them. “I will give you one more chance to renounce Christ. If anyone still wants to believe in God, then just raise your hand.”
Every Christian present raised their hand. The official, police officers and soldiers were shocked. The Prai people follow tribal nature gods, and less than 1 percent are evangelical Christian. The official asked who was the first person in the village to tell the others about God.
“The Christians were silent,” the leader of a native ministry said. “They didn’t dare to give an answer. Then a 45-year-old widow named Rina* who was very brave told them, ‘It was me. I was the first person who accepted God in the village.’”
She told them that she had heard about God and accepted Christ through two local missionaries, both church pastors. Asked if they came to the village, she said she sought them out and visited them at their house. He asked how she had met them.
“Rina told them that once a group of police officers came to the village and made an announcement by loudspeaker – they prohibited the villagers to believe in God and Jesus, and from that point she began to have an interest in learning about Jesus and Christians,” the leader said.
The official asked why she had decided to accept Christ, and Rina replied that she had long suffered from a bacterial infection that hospital treatment had failed to relieve, and that since accepting Christ, she had prayed and been healed. Soon many other villagers received Christ after God healed them from illness, she said.
The official, policemen and soldiers ordered the Christians to return to their homes but told Rina to remain. Officers told her that if she continued to believe in God, they would destroy her belongings and livestock and put her in prison.
Rina remained steadfast. The officers didn’t follow through on their threats, but they ordered her not to leave her house, the ministry leader said.
“Since that day, Nov. 2, 2021, there is a policeman standing in front of her house,” he said. “The policeman keeps watch on her. Rina is unable to go anywhere – she cannot go to work.”
A 2016 decree on religion empowers the Ministry of Home Affairs to stop any religious activities contrary to policies, “traditional customs,” laws or regulations, but much persecution of Christians in Laos is carried out by local officials acting outside of the law and the constitution, which guarantees religious freedom.
Among Christian churches, the government officially recognizes only the Laos Evangelical Church, the Seventh-day Adventist and the Catholic Church, and the explosive growth of independent house churches often comes with opposition from local villagers and officials. About 60 percent of Laos’ population is Buddhist and 32 percent animist, with animism also finding its way into Buddhists’ beliefs and practices.
In spite of cultural and official opposition, workers with the native ministry planted 16 house churches during a recent six-month span as 1,213 people put their faith in Christ. Many of these people came to faith in response to live gospel messages on Facebook, recorded messages on MP3 players, ministry seminars or evangelistic outreaches in both cities and rural areas, the leader said.
“House churches have been planted with local leaders doing the evangelism in their area or in nearby villages,” he said. “Once two or three families accept Christ, they either will go worship at the church of the person who led them to Christ or eventually worship in their own village, where the local leaders or ministry team will train them in how to lead worship and do church on Sundays.”
Local missionaries recently provided aid and other assistance to Christians in nearly 20 persecution cases, he said.
One couple among the Bru people lived with their two young children at the home of the husband’s parents in a village where there were no other Christians. Samyoung* and his wife Pei* came to faith last fall after prayer in Christ’s name healed him of an illness that neither hospital physicians nor witchdoctors had been able to cure.
Samyoung’s parents asserted that since he was now healed, he no longer needed to continue worshipping Christ, the leader said.
“They still insisted on their faith, so Samyoung’s parent didn’t let them stay in the family any longer,” he said. “The parents chased Samyoung’s family out of the house.”
They moved into an already crowded house with Pei’s relatives, the ministry leader said.
“Their living situation is very difficult,” he said. “The relative’s house has so many people.”
Local missionaries are forming disciples and aiding the persecuted throughout the country. Please consider a donation today to help them bring Christ’s love to the lost.
*Names changed for security reasons