Communist and post-communist oppression
President Bounnhang Vorachit
Christian activities are heavily monitored by the communist authorities, including those of registered churches. Especially in rural areas, house churches are forced to meet underground as they are considered “illegal gatherings.”
Life is especially difficult for converts to the Christian faith, who are at risk of persecution from their family and the local authorities. This can involve damage to property, confiscation of possessions and issuing of fines.
Opposition is heightened when a convert’s family or the local authorities stir up the local community against them, sometimes through local village meetings or by seeking the support of local religious leaders.
An Open Doors local partner who has worked with “Khambang” (name changed), says:
“Thank you for partnering with us for the work in Laos. I pray that the harvest that the Lord has allowed Khambang to witness will serve as an encouragement for us to continually remember those who share the same faith but not the same freedom.”
Laos has dropped two places to No. 22 on the 2021 World Watch List. This shows a marginal reduction in opposition to Christianity, reflected in the fact the government started a training program on freedom of religion and belief for local authorities. If this will lead to improvements at the grassroots level remains to be seen. Regardless, it will not change family and community opposition against converts, so Laos remains an enormously challenging country in which to follow Jesus.
Provinces in the north (where the Hmong minority is concentrated) and Khammuane, Phongsaly and Savannakhet in the south have traditionally been difficult places for Christians to live. The local authorities in these areas still seem intent on removing any Christian witness.
Through local church partners, Open Doors strengthens persecuted believers in Laos by providing Christian materials, leadership and discipleship training, socio-economic development programs, advocacy support, emergency relief and practical aid.