Laos has been in the tight grip of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party since 1975. Its exclusive network of party members’ families and friends adds to the pressure felt by Lao citizens, especially minorities. The country also has a complete lack of freedom of expression, let alone a free press to highlight cases of corruption. Tight laws on the founding and control of NGOs, as well as the use of social media and online criticism, were adopted in September 2014 and have been implemented harshly. Buddhist temples are the centers of social and religious life, and most Lao men are expected to spend some time serving in a temple. This shows how deeply ingrained Buddhism is in the thinking and culture of society. Although it is often mixed with animistic beliefs and practices, every deviation from it is unthinkable and perceived as dangerous. Therefore, Christians refusing to participate in Buddhist practices are perceived as foreign and a threat to traditional culture.
James, a 23-year-old Laotian Bible school student, was imprisoned for allegedly sharing the Gospel in an undisclosed village in Laos. He tells Open Doors about his four months in jail and how the ordeal brought him closer to Jesus Christ.
Praise God! After exactly one month in prison, Hian and Phung were released on June 14, 2016. The two were arrested in Vietnam and deported to Laos on May 14 for distributing tribal hymnals.