Laos: Christians flee destroyed homes for decision to worship Jesus

April 25, 2020 by Lindy Lowry in Asia

Two months ago in northern Laos, three Christian families woke to the thundering voice of the chief in the remote village where they lived. As he stood outside their homes, the leader of the community they had been part of their whole lives announced that he and the entire population of the village were there to destroy their homes.

That day, these families lost their homes and their community—because they left the tribe’s religion to follow Jesus. The families fled together into a nearby rice field where they cobbled together makeshift shelters (pictured above).

Days later, the villagers found where they were and destroyed their “homes” once again.

See why Laos is No. 20 on Open Doors’ World Watch List

A couple of days ago, we received an update from the local pastor of the families’ church. After relocating yet again into another village, these families have been told by that village chief they must move once more because they might “anger the spirits of the village.”

The pastor who contacted our team shared that a Christian from another district heard about their situation and stepped into the lives of his brothers and sisters. He offered them his former house at a low rent. The families’ pastor has helped them settle there, and a registered church has provided them with food. Open Doors will support them with their rental fee and other needs. The logistics of helping them are complicated by restrictions involving coronavirus.

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Christian converts targeted in Laos

The rejection and upheaval these families have gone through over the last three months typify the situation for Christian converts in Laos, one of the five remaining Marxist-Leninist countries in the world. The country is strictly opposed to any influence deemed foreign or Western. The Communist party puts enormous pressure on the small Christian minority. Open Doors has multiple reports of Christians, often families, expelled from their homes and even assaulted. In rural areas, village residents watch Christians with suspicion.

In this southeast Asian country, converts to Christianity of 7 million people (227,000 Christians) face the most severe forms of Christian persecution. Abandoning Buddhism or tribal animist beliefs is seen as a betrayal to family members and the community—fueling the perception that Christians essentially excommunicate themselves from the Buddhist-animist community.

Consequently, believers are persecuted by their immediate and/or extended family (usually one Laotian household is composed of three generations under one roof) and by local authorities who often stir up the community, as is the case with these families. As a result, Christians must take extreme caution to avoid negative reactions from government officials.

Photo: Families gather for prayer inside one of the makeshift shelters.

Pray with the church in Laos

  • Pray that Christians would have wisdom to know how to share the gospel with their Buddhist neighbors and family members. Pray they would lead with love and be well-received.
  • Pray that Christians in Laos would be able to freely access Bibles and register churches for legal status.
  • Pray that Christian children in Buddhist schools would not be discriminated against and given low grades simply because of their faith (this is currently happening).
  • Pray that God will be ever-close to persecuted families and that He will frustrate any of Satan’s future plans.
  • Pray that Christians’ faith would grow even stronger, deeply rooted in their love for Jesus.
  • Pray that the villagers who have persecuted these families will come to know the love of Christ.
  • Pray against the spiritual forces that rule over the villages in Laos and hold people captive.
  • Pray that as Open Doors walks with persecuted Christians in Laos, they would have strength and courage to share their faith with others.
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