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Christians arrested and house church meetings banned in Laos

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

Christians in a Laotian village have been ordered to stop worshipping in private homes as several Christians were arrested in different parts of the country.

A pastor and three other Christians were arrested at a house church gathering in Sounya village in Namtha district of Luang Namtha province on 10 July. Pastor Seng Aroun, Souchiad, Naikwang and Kofa were charged with assembling for worship without approval. All but Pastor Aroun were released after three days.

lao-peoples-democratic-republic-4X3.jpg
Map showing the location of Lao Peoples Democratic Republic

They were holding a meeting in Kofa’s home; the Christians in Sounya normally hold their weekly Sunday services in another member’s house. The villagers have now been ordered to stop worshipping in private homes altogether.

Christians in Sounya village have faced persecution since the conversion of around 400 residents in 2002; they have been meeting in homes since the authorities destroyed their church building two years ago.

Faithful convert

Elsewhere, a Christian convert was arrested after he refused to renounce Christ and return to the traditional Lao religion of animism. Vong Veu remains in custody after being arrested on 10 July in Pookong village in the Viengkham district of Luang Prabang province. He was charged with embracing the Christian religion and asked to abandon his faith in order to prove his innocence, but he refused.

In another incident, church elder Abee Weng and three other Christians, Pachua, Bouleuvang and Kae, were arrested on 29 March while travelling back home to Luang Prabang city from Pookong village, where they had been invited by new believers there to help them grow in their faith.

The four were charged with “spreading foreign religion and eradicating Lao traditional religion”, but Pastor Weng insisted that they did not spread the Christian faith and were only guiding new converts. They were released after four days in prison.

Pastors jailed

Two pastors who were arrested in January for “gathering for the purpose of creating turbulent unrest” remain in custody in Khammouan Province. Pastor Wanna and a colleague were detained with eight other Christians including two children. Pastor Wanna, who leads a church in Nakoon village, has been repeatedly arrested and beaten for his Christian activities.

Bounchan Kanthavong, a pastor in Udomsai Province, is nearing the end of a 12 year prison sentence following his conversion to Christianity and preaching of the Gospel that resulted in around 70 people accepting Christ. He was arrested in 1999 and convicted of “treason and sedition” because he had been involved in leading Laotians to abandon the traditional animist faith and follow Christ; the Lao authorities consider Christianity to be a foreign religion and thus a threat to national unity.

Following Pastor Kanthavong’s detention, his wife Sengkham took over the leadership of their small Christian community; it has grown to more than 3,000 believers today. In April this year, the authorities told Pastor Kanthavong, a father of five, that they were willing to release him if he renounced Christ and separated from his wife.

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  • On this Good Friday, give thanks to God for the death of Christ and for His gift of eternal life. Praise Him too for the example of those Christians who have persevered in their faith at the risk of their lives and who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of Christ and the Gospel. Pray that their martyrdom will inspire their suffering brothers and sisters in Christ to endure whatever hardships befall them and will convince their persecutors of the truth and power of the Gospel. Pray too that their bereaved families and churches will not grieve without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Apr 2014 00:00

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  • Pray for a church leader in Sri Lanka, S.S. Johnpillai, who was threatened at gunpoint by attackers who claimed to be Special Forces officers. The minister was in a hut next to his church building in Guadalupe, Trincomolee when, he said, the men “appeared out of nowhere”. The intruders put a gun to Johnpillai’s head and accused him of holding a Communion service in honour of the founder of the Tamil Tigers, the government’s opponents in the country’s long and bloody civil war. The government had that day made it a criminal offence to commemorate the group. The gunmen ignored Johnpillai’s protests that he had not dedicated Communion to the group’s founder, and they threatened to shoot him. Ask the Lord to support and strengthen Johnpillai as he recovers from this terrifying ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

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