Posted on 03 January 2011
Posted By The Underground Staff On January 3, 2011 @ 8:01 pm In Causes,Featured | No Comments
Despite harsh persecution and discrimination against Christians in Laos, which Open Doors ranked among the top 10 World Watch List of Countries where Christians are persecuted, the church continues to grow.
Patrick Klein, president and founder of Vision Beyond Borders, told Mission News Network that there are more Christian believers than there are bibles within the community.
Klein said, “They have now over 200 churches throughout the country [and] over 60,000 believers. Young people are very open to the gospel. Even the church service we attended, the majority of them were young people. They’re searching. They want the truth. They’re hungry for Jesus Christ.”
Persecution remains high in the country. Weeks ago, the rice paddies of 11 Christian families were destroyed by officials and residents of Katin village in Sarvan province, Mission News Network said.
World Net Daily said seven Christian families were ordered at gunpoint to renounce their faith. When they refused, they were marched outside the village to join 56 Christians who were forced to live in the forests, World Net Daily reported.
The Underground reported on 48 Christians who were driven out of Katin in January (see http://theundergroundsite.com/index.php/2010/05/expelled-lao-christians-become-critically-ill-one-dies-from-living-in-jungle-12143 ) and were living in the jungle. They were followed shortly after by six more families, Christian Today said.
Before the eviction the Christians were threatened, harassed, and their livestock and property were confiscated. Some 80 men, women and children were imprisoned in a school compound and one Christian died from asphyxiation, Christian Today said.
Sirikoon Prasertsee, Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom Spokesman, told World Net Daily that such incidents are frequent. “It’s widespread. We’re only able to bring to light the incidents in the areas where the people are very much connected to us. But now we’re finding out there are many other areas and provinces we need to bring to light so things can be resolved.”
Klein said the incidents are not given international news coverage because “It’s not in the cities. It’s more in the remote villages. We have heard stories of isolated incidents in the villages, which makes me concerned because I think persecution could break out especially as they see the church growing,” Mission News Network reported.
Pratsertsee cited two reasons why Christianity is persecuted. First, because it’s considered a “colonial” faith, “so the Lao government is still very suspicious” and want to eliminate it, World Net Daily reported.
Second, Pratsertsee told World Net Daily, is the cultural difference. “Christianity is not seen as local or national in origin. It’s seen as very much foreign to the people. Anything local or indigenous seems to promote harmony and Christianity seems to promote division.”
Right to intervene
Although the Lao constitution guarantees religious freedom, it also reserves the right to intervene if something promotes social division. Christianity is seen to promote division among families and people who no longer share the same religion. This is used to justify persecution, Pratsertsee told World Net Daily.
Pratsertsee said local government officials do most of the persecution with informal official endorsement. Government support is forced to be indirect due to internet and media coverage in the last 10 years, World Net Daily said.
Klein told Mission News Network the Laotian president said, “Americans are no longer our no. 1 enemy; Christians are.” Klein added, “They said Christians rape women, and Christians steal money. It puts up a barrier between Christians and people of other faiths to have this resistance to Christianity right from the start.”
It’s a good thing, Pratsertsee told World Net Daily, that Christians stay in the country. “[In] 1975, you basically had most of the Christian leaders leaving the country. Freedoms are obtained by those on the inside.”
To alleviate the plight of Christians, Pratsertsee recommended first, that Christians in Laos participate positively in the country’s reconstruction “so that Christianity is not viewed as anti-government,” World Net Daily reported.
Second, he stressed to World Net Daily the need for publicity. “The pressure from the global community is working. There is evidence all over that it is [helping] to bring freedom in many parts of the country. If we can keep the international pressure on, that’s the only channel we have now to help the government to move forward—positive external pressure.”
Klein, who is appealing for more bibles, also cites the protection of God. He told Mission News Network that recently six people with 18 bags of gospel material were able to get past customs.
Klein told Mission News Network, “[The customs inspector] was looking at all these bags. And I just said, ‘Father, we really need some help here.’ And all of a sudden, the customs man turned around and went back into his office and was totally engrossed in his conversation. Six people were able to take 18 bags full of materials right out the door. We walked right past him, and he never saw any of it.”
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- Lao Officials Arrest 11 Christians at Gunpoint charismamag.com