On Thursday, July 17, Lao local police arrested two believers for refusing to recant their faith. After more than a month in prison, one was released on Aug 23, for health reasons.
Tribal believers Loy*, 25, and Sulilath*, 22, were town leaders and church elders in a village in Bolikhamsai Province, Central Laos. Local authorities held them responsible for the increase in Christian population in their village from three to 12 families in a span of two years.
Pastor Kane*, a friend to the elders who witnessed their arrest shares, “The police were alarmed that the people in our village were becoming Christians so they visited Loy and Sulilath saying, ‘We don’t allow Christians here. If you don’t deny Jesus, you only have two choices-leave town or go to jail.’ Loy and Sulilath chose to stay.”
For 37 days, Loy and Sulilath were locked in separate cramped jail cells. With little space for movement, Loy developed perpetual back pain and leg cramps. This development led the prison officials to release him from jail.
“After he got out, Loy took his wife and two children out of the village immediately,” says Pastor Kane. “His family now stays with a close friend in another district.” Sulilath, however, remains behind bars.
The communist government of Laos believes that its national identity is directly linked with Buddhism. This government stance makes it common for tribal Christians like Loy and Sulilath to be expelled from their villages, and even tortured and imprisoned by their neighbors, relatives, and local officials for choosing to follow Jesus Christ. Laos ranks 21st on Open Doors’ 2014 World Watch List.
Father, we pray for believers in Laos who have turned to faith in Christ despite the threat of expulsion from their homes and even of imprisonment and torture. Thank You for their testimony of faith. Today, we lay before Your throne our brother Sulilath as he remains in prison. Father, be his constant presence and strength to meet the challenges of each day, and that You would help him to know we are praying for him. While we give thanks and praise for Loy’s release, we pray for him and his family; that You would sustain them with shelter, food, and protection. Grant brother Loy wisdom and protection, that he might continue to work on behalf of Your church. In the name of Jesus, whose promise never to leave us or forsake us, gives us hope in our darkest hours, Amen.
*Real names and specific places were hidden to protect the believers