Thursday, 17 April 2008

Laos - Ranking: 9th

Population: 6 368 000
Capital: Vientiane
Dominant Religion: Buddhism
Languages: Loa
Political leader: Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh
Christians: 2%

Laos is a one party, authoritarian state seen as one of the poorest and least developed countries in Southeast Asia.
Laos' national motto is "Peace, Independence, Democracy, Unity, and Socialism." The truth in the day to day lives of Laos' some 100 000 Christians is very different to what this statement would proclaim. Buddhism and Buddhist organisations are openly encouraged. Government needs approval for any proselytizing, printing of religious texts, or owning a building for worship The importation of religious publications and articles is prohibited.

To give you an idea: On February 19, 2004, Christians living in the Donthapad village in souther Laos were told by a government official, "If you [will] not give up your Christian faith, leave the village; if you do not, you will be punished by death."

A ministry partner of WIN received the following plea for help from one of the villagers: "The officials' purpose is to totally eradicate Christianity. They threatened to destroy our homes and to burn our homes. We are not able to travel anywhere. We are kept in ... confinement. They keep watch on us."

Local Christians have land and livestock confiscated, are made to pay fines for continuing to hold to the Christian faith, and are threatened that if these are not paid quickly, their homes will be burned. These are our brothers afar - who have no peace, independence, democracy or rights, because they aren't valued by the government.

See more here:

What to pray for

- Pray for the church in Laos to be strong and bold in the face of persecution (Rev 2:9-10)
- Pray that the international community doesn't turn a blind eye to this travesty or a deaf ear to the cries of the Laos' Christians. That international efforts will be effective in securing protection for Laos' Christians.
- Pray for the wisdom of church elders in both pastoring churches and fulfilling the great commission.
- Pray that the hearts of believers will continue to be strengthened by the love of Christ in the midst of the their suffering.

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