Police in a village in central Laos stormed the home of a Christian family and arrested two believers who were visiting the family of five, accusing them of “spreading the [Christian] faith” after they encouraged the believers to pray. One of the men had previously been arrested in 2012 after 300 local people decided to become Christians through the witness of his life.
Incidents such as this are sadly common in Laos where authorities consider Christianity a threat and take a harsh approach to Christian evangelism, targeting pastors and evangelists in particular. Those who are imprisoned for their faith are sometimes held in stocks and handcuffs; some are tortured.
Christians in Laos make up a tiny minority, numbering about 150,000 people amongst a total population of about 7 million who are predominantly Buddhist. In some areas Christians, particularly those belonging to ethnic minorities, suffer harassment, threats and detention or are denied access to education and medical care. When authorities ordered six Hmong Christian families to renounce their faith in late 2014, the Christians refused and were forced to leave their village and their fields.
Despite the fact that the Lao constitution provides religious freedom for citizens, Christians have been tightly controlled since Communist forces seized power in 1975 and overthrew the monarchy. It is illegal to print Bibles and extremely difficult to obtain the required approval for importing Christian literature, evangelistic activities and building churches. In some areas, Christians are unable to meet together legally if permission to build a church has been denied and meeting in private homes has been banned.
Pray for greater religious freedoms for Christians in Laos, who struggle to gain permission to meet together or share their faith with others. Pray for those who are in prison for their commitment to the Gospel. Pray that the authorities will be prevented from doing them harm, and will soon grant them release. Ask the Lord to provide for the material needs of those who have been forced to leave their homes, villages and fields. Pray God’s protection over the Christian community, and especially over the ethnic minorities in rural areas.