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Christian leaders in Laos released but c...

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Christian leaders in Laos released but church building seized

Country/Region: South and East Asia, Lao, People's Democratic Republic

Nine Christian leaders have been released from custody in Laos, but the authorities have continued their clampdown on religious freedom by seizing a church building.

sri_lanka_4X3.jpg
A map showing the location of Laos

On 8 January, Pastors Wanna and Yohan, who had been arrested at gunpoint along with nine other Christians just over a year ago, were set free. The two church leaders had been charged with organising a “secret meeting”, which was actually a Christmas celebration. The other nine who were detained with them had been released shortly after the raid at Pastor Wanna’s house in Nakoon village, Hinboun district, Khammouan province, on 4 January 2011.

Then on 12 January, seven church leaders who had been arrested in Boukham village, Ad-Sapangthong district, Savannakhet province, on 16 December 2011 for holding a Christmas celebration attended by over 200 people, were released unconditionally. They had been clamped to one long wooden plank, their feet held in stocks, from 27 December until their release.

On 30 December, they had been given a massive fine – US$125 and one cow (valued at US$600) each – for violating the traditional cult of the village. They denied the charges and refused to pay. After the intervention of higher authorities the fine was reduced to US$125, and the leaders were set free. Local Christians had been fervently praying for their release on the night that this happened. An eighth church leader who was arrested with them had been released earlier.    

Church seized

In the same province, however, a 50-year-old church building in Nadaeng village, Saybuli district, has been seized by the authorities. The district’s head of religious affairs had ordered local Christians to stop using their church building for all religious activities from 5 December 2011. This followed a training session the previous day in which he warned villagers and officials that Christianity was being used by the country’s enemies to oppose Laos’ Communist political system. 

The church disregarded the order and continued using the building for its activities, including a Christmas gathering. But on 7 January, Nadaeng Christian leaders were summoned to a meeting during which officials ordered the confiscation of the building, placing it under the control of the village authorities.

Savannakhet chiefs stated that they recognise only seven churches throughout the province; the other 23 are therefore considered illegal. Two buildings, of which Nadaeng’s is one, have been confiscated, raising fears that the same may happen to the remaining 21.

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christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

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  • Praise God for the release of John Short, an Australian missionary who was detained in North Korea for distributing Christian leaflets. John, who is 75 and based in Hong Kong, was reported to security officials in Pyongyang after he was spotted leaving a Christian leaflet at a Buddhist temple, an act that is illegal in North Korea. Further Korean-language Christian pamphlets were subsequently found in his hotel room. John, who was released on 3 March after two weeks in custody, was required to sign a confession probably scripted by the authorities. Other foreign missionaries arrested in North Korea have been given long prison sentences. Give thanks to God that John has escaped further punishment, and pray for him as he recovers from his traumatic ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 15 hours ago

  • Pray for Barnabas Fund partners in South Sudan who have been supporting Christians forced from their homes by violence. Conflict between supporters of President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar in December and January displaced around 860,000 people. Churches were burned down and a number of pastors killed, while many people lost their belongings and were left destitute. Give thanks that churches in and around the capital, Juba, were able to provide food and other essentials to many families with help from Barnabas. Pray that they may continue to be salt and light in their country at this unstable time (Matthew 5:13-16), and that it will soon be safe for displaced Christians to return home. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Pray for the residents of a mainly Christian village in Borno state, Northern Nigeria, in the aftermath of a horrific attack by Boko Haram militants on 15 February. Ask for God’s comfort for the relatives and friends of the 106 people in Izghe who were gunned down and slaughtered in their houses or in the open as they tried to flee. Pray for strength for the numerous residents who were wounded or whose properties were looted and torched. Pray too for the many Christians who fled into the neighbouring state after the attack, and ask that the Christian community in the North of Nigeria will be preserved in the face of Islamist violence. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Violent attacks by militants from the Islamist group Boko Haram continue unabated in Northern Nigeria. On one horrendous day of violence on 26 January, at least 138 people were killed. A church in Wada Chakawa village in Adamawa state was targeted; the attackers locked the congregation inside and then detonated bombs, shooting and cutting the throats of people who tried to escape. They then went on a four-hour rampage in the village. Later the same day, Kawuri village in neighbouring Borno state was burned to the ground. Boko Haram is fighting to establish an Islamic state, and Christians are among its main targets. Pray that the Nigerian authorities will succeed in containing its insurgency. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we give You thanks on this Easter Day for the living hope that You have given us and all Your people through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). We pray that the prospect of an enduring inheritance and future salvation will encourage our persecuted brothers and sisters to persevere in their faith, whatever may happen to them. We pray that we too may be sustained by this hope in the sufferings that we experience for the sake of Christ. We ask that the joy and resurrection power of the Lord will give strength and peace to persecuted believers today and every day. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Apr 2014 00:00

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