Noi packs his backpack full of Bibles, teaching books, DVDs and CDs, then shrugs the bag onto his back and heads off to board the bus. He carries only items that won’t raise suspicion if the bus is stopped by authorities on his 20-hour ride to northern Laos. Noi will return to the city in six weeks to resupply so he can take more needed materials to new believers and other Christians.
Noi oversees a network of house churches among tribal groups in Laos, and he is no stranger to persecution. He is constantly harassed by authorities, but he has learned to deal wisely with them in order to continue teaching minority groups about Christ and continue helping Christians grow in their faith.
In 2013, the village chief questioned Noi about his activities five times. The first time, the chief told him it was okay that he and three other families in the village were Christians. But he told them they could meet for worship only four times per year. Noi and the other believers, including new believers from surrounding villages whom he had led to the Lord, kept meeting twice a week.
When the chief questioned Noi again, he told him to “stop teaching all these people about Jesus.” But Noi and his wife told him it was for the good of the community. “If we teach people about Jesus,” Noi told him, “they become good people. The Christians respect the government. We teach that Jesus came to save people from their sins and give them a life that is better than the life they were living before.”
The next time the chief called them, he again told them they couldn’t meet so often. “We have to meet every week to learn what God is saying,” Noi told him. “The Buddhists meet every week. People have to go to meet so we can learn how to stop sinning.” When the chief told them that only the three Christian families from the village could meet and no one else, Noi and his wife gave him a copy of the Laos constitution and asked him to show them where it says Christians can’t meet. Somewhat taken aback, the chief gave in for the time being.
Jesus is really tough on sin
Police continue to monitor the church services as well as Noi’s activities. In 2013, they visited the church seven times, but last year they came only once. Two policemen came on Easter Sunday, and church members invited them to sit up front because it is considered a place of honour. Afterward, one of the policemen said, “Wow, this Jesus is really tough on sin.” The Christians invited the policemen to join them for a meal after the service, but they declined.
VOM supports Noi and the other believers as they spread the message of Jesus to the Hmong, Khmu and other groups in Laos. Noi regularly visits four villages, and others working under his leadership are visiting other areas. The workers are divided by ethnic group to ensure that they speak the language of the villagers they visit and don’t stand out to authorities. The authorities are very concerned about the possibility of tribal groups banding together in a political uprising, and the Christians don’t want to be perceived as a threat. Every six weeks, fully aware of the risks, Noi travels back to the city and refills his bag with Bibles and other materials for the spiritually hungry people of Laos.
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