Local Missionaries in Laos
Local Missionaries in Laos
One of the few remaining one-party communist states, the landlocked country of Laos is bordered by Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Thailand, and Vietnam. About twice the size of Pennsylvania, Laos has one of the lowest population densities in Southeast Asia but one of the fasted-growing economies in Asia. Though the infrastructure is underdeveloped throughout the country, which is mainly covered in mountains and forests, private enterprise is allowed. Laos is a source country for trafficking and a producer of opium.
The Lao majority comprises more than half of the population. The second-largest ethnic group in Laos is the Khmu people, among whom the Christian population is rapidly growing. Around 60% of the population is Buddhist with another 32% practicing ethnic religions.
Christians face much persecution from their Buddhist families and communities and from communist authorities, as Christianity is viewed as a threat to be exterminated. Believers worship in underground house churches, which are considered illegal. It is not uncommon for these house churches to be destroyed or for Christians to be kicked out of their own villages, attacked, or arrested.
In a country where rice is already in short supply due to drought in some areas and flooding in others, those who follow Christ are even more threatened as officials withhold rations from those who have left the ancestral gods for Christ. At the same time, villagers refuse to sell staple items to Christians.
“The authorities’ tactics and strategy are to block and oppress Christians in every way to make them discouraged with no way to go,” reported the leader of an indigenous ministry. Not only are Christians denied crucial aid in times of hardship, they are also refused simple dignities like burying their dead in their own village. The leader provided the example of a Christian family whom authorities are pressuring to exhume the body of one of their relatives buried in the village cemetery.
Christians in Laos began facing heightened persecution after the implementation of Decree 315 in 2016, which added numerous restrictions on Christian activity. Laotian Christians are prohibited from meeting together unless they do so inside of a registered church with a registered minister. To curtail the spread of the gospel, the decree also bans Christians from visiting another province without permission from both their provincial leader and the leader of the other province—a feat that is nearly impossible in an area where Christians are considered a problem to be eradicated.
An indigenous ministry that helps to oversee, disciple, and train the over 70,000 Khmu believers in Laos requests assistance for their training programs, Facebook live program that draws hundreds of thousands of viewers, support for persecuted believers, and financial assistance for their ministry workers.
How to Pray for
- Pray for the many unreached ethnic groups in Laos, that God would send workers to tell them about the Lord Jesus, and that many would accept the gospel.
- Pray for the growing number of Christians in Laos, that God would strengthen them to stand firm despite rejection and persecution from friends, family, and neighbors.
- Pray for provision for believers who are denied crucial aid in times of hardship and for ministry workers laboring daily to share the gospel in difficult conditions.
More stories from Laos
The headman of a village in Laos summoned a local missionary to his office. “I heard that you are speaking to people in the village, and you are talking about Jesus, and now people told me that some of them are interested,” the headman told him. The local missionary, pastor of a house church, showed the headman a government booklet stating that Christianity was one of the officially accepted faiths in the country.
Accompanied by police and soldiers, a district official in Laos told Christians in a tribal village that those who refused to renounce Christ would be imprisoned. He was angry that they had refused to heed a prior warning to quit worshiping Christ. “Christianity is a western religion – it cannot be practiced in our country,” he told them. “I will give you one more chance to renounce Christ. If anyone still wants to believe in God, then just raise your hand.”
Police in Laos recently summoned the residents of six villages to make this announcement: “Since Christianity is a Western religion, any child under the age of 17 is not allowed to believe in Jesus.” “They later made a threat,” a native ministry leader said, “that if they found any Christians gathered in groups of five people or more, they would be nailed by their hands and feet, and then shot to death.”
Pei, a widow in Laos, was secretly discipled at a local missionary’s church for five months before she developed the strength of faith to tell her daughter and son-in-law about her conversion. “After saying only a few words about Jesus, both her daughter and son-in-law immediately began to violently criticize her,” the local ministry leader said.
Family members of a woman in Laos who died earlier this year had let her waste away in poverty, refusing to care for her because of her faith. Workers for a local ministry arranged her burial, inviting villagers they had ministered to in various community and gospel outreaches.
A 100-year-old church leader has long attended a local ministry’s training seminars, where he has encouraged others with his faithfulness in the face of persecution. “He has endured so much in his walk with the Lord, to the point that he was imprisoned eight times for his faith,” the native ministry leader said.