Christians under fire in Laos

 

Christians under fire in Laos

Author: 

Andrew Boyd

As the ASEAN summit gets underway in Laos in South East Asia, Release International is calling for an end to Christian persecution in the host nation. A radio report is available featuring interviews with Laos pastors and Christians who have been threatened by the authorities and disowned by their communities because of their faith.

The South East Asian country of Laos plays host to the influential ASEAN summit this week (Sept 6 – 8). The summit focuses on the cultural and economic development of the ten member nations.

President Obama is due to attend, and religious liberty organisations are calling on him to take the opportunity to press for greater freedom of faith in the ASEAN member states.

In the host nation, Laos, Christians pay a heavy price for following Christ.  Caught between a Communist government and a widespread belief in Buddhism and animism, Christians have been killed, driven from their homes, arrested and harassed by the police. They can also face rejection from their families.

‘The ASEAN summit is an occasion to celebrate the advances made by South East Asian nations. It’s also time to take stock and see what remains to be achieved,’ says Release Chief Executive Paul Robinson. ‘Look no further than the persecution of Christians in the host nation – by its own citizens and by the authorities. Release urges Laos to stop the persecution and guarantee freedom of faith for Christians.’

Pastors who want to train for the ministry cannot do so safely in Laos, so Release International, which works with persecuted Christians around the world, is supporting training seminars just across the border in Thailand.

One pastor, Mac, told Release how the police had threatened to kill him unless he renounced his Christian faith: ‘The police screamed at me and got angry with me, and tried to force me to deny Jesus. In my mind I was praying to God: “God, please forgive these police and please work in their hearts.”

‘The police said to me firstly, “Will you stop believing in Jesus?” Secondly, “Do you want to die?” Thirdly, “Do you want to go to jail?” And fourthly, they told me, “After you go back from the police officers here, you have to go to every church and tell them to stop believing in Jesus.”

‘I replied to the police, “I’m not afraid to die. I’m not afraid to go to jail. I won’t stop believing in Jesus.”

Philip was detained by the police after he became a Christian. He was hounded out of his community by villagers who killed his livestock and seized his land. After he moved to another village, the police tried to force him to sign a document to stop him evangelising, but he refused. Now his children face discrimination at school.

Philip and others tell their stories in a radio report, which is available for broadcast. The cue, report and full transcript can be downloaded here

Through its international network of missions Release serves persecuted Christians in 30 countries around the world, by supporting pastors and Christian prisoners, and their families; supplying Christian literature and Bibles, and working for justice. Release is a member of the UK organisations Global Connections and the Evangelical Alliance.

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