Today, we want to update you on the lives of several Laotians families who have been victims of local persecution in their villages. The nation of Laos is currently #28 on the 2015 Open Doors World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians suffer the most severe persecution for their faith. Especially in rural areas of Laos where animistic worship is still the predominant religious force, Christians are affected by tribal antagonism. Tribal leaders and villagers continue to practice animism, and anyone who turns their back on this belief and converts to Christianity risks expulsion from the community. Communities practicing animism see Christianity as a foreign element, which may anger the spirits believed to protect the village. In one reported incident, authorities in a village tried to force Christians to participate in ancestor worship and swear an oath to animist spirits, thereby proving their “loyalty, innocence, and submission” to local authorities. Refusing to comply with these demands can lead to corporal punishment or to being banned from the village.
Last summer, six Christian families were expelled from their village in southeast Laos. On July 18th, policemen took them to prison where they were coerced to recant their faith. When they were released on September 25th, two of the families quickly fled their village. Today, one family is temporarily living in a fabric tent beside their church leader’s home in another village, while another family was recently able to move from a fabric tent to a rented home. Open Doors has provided both families with financial assistance.
The other four families must move out by the end of February. As of January 22nd, they had rented homes in a nearby village, but were facing troubles with their papers. Laotian locals cannot resettle in another area unless they first secure a certification of transfer from officials of their previous village. The evicted families have not been granted such certification. “Please pray that they get back on their feet, and that they be able to find a more secure place to settle,” says a local contact. “Please pray, too, that their hunger would be met. They are in constant need of food.”
And in northern Laos, two leaders from Luang Nam Ta were jailed last November. The police attempted to drive them from the village, fearing that these two Christian leaders would convert other villagers. The leaders refused to leave and were arrested by the authorities. The leaders are still currently imprisoned.
In a third situation last year, a Laotian believer returned from the fields after a long day of farming to find his home completely destroyed. He felt helpless, and he didn’t know where to start. With financial help from Open Doors, he and his family bought some bamboo and built a small house. They also received an immediate supply of rice.
Father, we pray for Your hand of protection over believers in Laos as they suffer the earthly consequences of remaining faithful to Christ. In prison or out, we pray for Your comfort to enfold them, and we pray for the light of Christ reflected in their lives to draw those around them into saving faith. Where they have lost homes and resources, we pray that You will sustain them daily with food and water and that You will establish them in new communities with homes and a livelihood. And we pray for that day when the rulers of Laos will acknowledge Christ, the Lord of lords. In the name of Jesus, who reigns even now over the nation of Laos and its leaders, Amen.