VOM workers in Laos report that persecution is on the increase in Laos. The reason why is very simple.
They said, “The formula is very simple: Revival causes persecution! And there have been revivals abounding throughout Laos.”
The local authorities don’t like Christianity and are opposed to any form of evangelism. They see Christianity as a threat to their authority. “They need the control in their hands and they will do desperate things to retain their power over the people,” one of our leaders told us.
In one area in northern Laos, five separate districts have converted to Christianity. Just this year, in another area, a further two districts have also turned to Christ.
Why are people converting to Christianity?
The average village person has grown up inheriting their family’s ancestral worship systems, animism and the practice of relying on witch doctors for medical treatment.
But are people merely replacing their ancestral religion with Christianity to avoid having the expense of giving sacrifices to witch doctors?
“This is not the case,” commented our northern representative. “They understand the importance of God’s love towards them as an individual. Many have never really experienced this form of love in their life and they have embraced the message of salvation willingly.”
Whole villages have seen Christ’s love in action from Christian leaders who don’t demand anything from them; the complete opposite of their witch doctors, who always demand much from them. And in the Gospel message, they learn that they can receive eternal life.
Reaction of the opposition
The Laotian government publicises freedom of religion, but when it comes to the local village authorities, they enforce a different rule. The village head informs converts that becoming a Christian indicates they are no longer part of the village and therefore no longer come under their protection. They are forced to leave the village and told to go and live with other Christians. If the evicted family wants to return to their own village, they are required to perform a sacrificial ceremony to their ancestors and return to their old practices.
How do Laotian Christians respond?
The believers are faithfully committed to following Christ and do not deny their newfound faith, despite the opposition that comes against them.
In the southern parts of Laos, many of the Christian farming community have had their land confiscated by local authorities. After cultivating the land and tending the crops, the authorities take over, leaving the Christians with nothing to live on.
When government officials are told about these problems, they often promise to address the situation the next month. But nothing ever happens.
“All I can do to encourage a family is to pray with them and ask them to totally trust the Lord,” our southern representative told us. “I try to find land nobody wants so there will be minimum trouble for the believers to plant crops to help sustain their families. Sadly, this is becoming a common problem in Laos.”
If we die, we will be with Jesus
Our VOM contact told us that in the central parts of Laos, six Hmong families were evicted from their village because of their Christian faith.
Under pressure to recant so they could return to their village and with the struggle to provide enough food for themselves, three families turned back to their old ways. However, the other three families stood strong in their faith. Three of the leaders of these families were arrested and imprisoned for six months.
The police tried to force them to sign papers, offering to return their land if they gave up following Christ. They refused to sign the papers. The police beat and mocked them, saying, “If you believe in Jesus, will He let you die at our hands?” But the prisoners boldly proclaimed, “If we die, we will be with Jesus.”
The pressure is constant, but they continue to triumph by God’s grace over the adversities they face.
Please pray for Christian families in Laos to remain firm in faith and to trust completely in God. You can make a donation to support Laotian Christians here.
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