While Christians across the globe were celebrating one of the most important seasons in the calendar, the Christian minority in Laos, who compromise 3% of the population, once again suffered persecution for their faith.
Seven Christians, including three church leaders, were arrested in southern Laos during church raids on 29 December 2018.
The believers were arrested in Phin district, Savannakhet province, where there are stringent rules that restrict Christian activities.
The individuals detained were accused of breaching these rules and arrested by local authorities. All seven were later released without charge.
According to Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF), the arrests were part of a violent church raid that resulted in the destruction of the church’s stage and sound system.
The police also cut off the power supply and confiscated mobile phones during the raid.
A local resident said that the arrests occurred when a local Christian group invited a pastor to organize a Christmas celebration.
In this area, such an event would be subject to strict regulation, as confirmed by a second set of arrests in Non Soung village, Phin district, where several Christians were detained before and after Christmas.
Local sources indicated that the reason for these arrests was a regulation that forbids Christians to hold or participate in any religious celebration outside of their own village.
The detained had invited a pastor from a neighbouring village to join their Christmas festivities, breaking the strict regulation.
This recent spate of arrests is indicative of an increasingly hostile environment for Christians in Laos.
While in theory the Lao government recognizes four major religions — Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and the Baha’i faith — the Christian minority, especially in rural areas, suffer ongoing persecution for their faith.
Just in November 2018, four Christians were arrested in Keovilai village in Vilabouly district, Savannakhet province.
HOME GROUP PRAYER
“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness,” 1 Timothy 6:11 ESV.
Dear Father God,
Thank you for the sobering reminder from Laos that our sisters and brothers there pay a heavy price to follow you in public.
We are sorry that even as we in safer and more comfortable parts of Asia were celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, perhaps we were only thinking about the high prices we pay for presents, decorations and food.
Please would you strengthen and comfort the imprisoned Christians in Laos, such that they would be strong and faithful witnesses to everyone they meet.
Please would you make sure that they have food to eat in prison.
Please would you grant them favour with the police and early release.
Please may we reflect about our own walk with you and how we may be better servants of one another.
Please may we remember our persecuted sisters and brothers in prayer regularly and keep a lookout for what we can do for them.
We pray all this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Materials used by kind permission of the original author.