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.
It happened on August 20th, 2015. Ten people came to arrest me. I was stunned, but I felt no fear. I thought that maybe this was part of God’s plan.
At the time, my brother-in-law was pursuing his Master’s Degree at the same Bible school I attend. He was working on a project that involved surveying the villagers. He was unable to go to one particular village so he asked me to do it for him. I was instructed to ask the villagers their names, ages, and occupations. It was simple and harmless. I was happy to do it. I sought the village leader for permission, and he told me I could go straight to the villagers to conduct the survey. So I did.
I went to one house and asked them for their information. When I went to the second house, I was arrested. Ten people came. The village leader called them. They accused me of sharing the gospel and converting people even though this wasn’t the case. I was merely asking questions. It was for Bible school, yes, but it was harmless. Evangelism cannot be done in Laos, and the authorities would have none of my explanations. I was a Christian carrying out suspicious activities. I was asking around too much. I was to be put in jail.
This [was] my life for four months. In jail, I learned whom I should trust. I learned to depend on the one who gives me strength; the one who I know will help me. God has planned everything. I couldn’t blame Him. I couldn’t even question Him. I knew that jail was still part of His plan.
There were two nights when I dreamed I was already dead. God reminded me that my life was not my own, but something He has given me. When I woke up from the dream, tears were streaming down my face. I knew that I had an uncertain future and that seeing my family again might take a very long while.
My family told me they couldn’t get help. They said I might be in for much longer. Everything was in a shambles. I couldn’t even remember memory verses. What I know though is that everything that happens is part of God’s plan. For God I could stay in jail for a long time.
I was released on December 21st, 2015. People from Open Doors paid the bail so I could be released. When I learned that I’d finally be able to walk free, I felt numb. Not because of anything else, but because my mind was concerned with the other prisoners. Some of them do not have a family to help them. When I arrived home, I broke down. I hugged my parents. I missed them so, so much. The love of God and that from my relatives strengthened me. Prison was faith stretching and faith strengthening. There is nothing else to do but trust God.
*Pseudonym and representative photo used to protect identity