Laos, in South East Asia, is one of the poorer, least developed countries of the world.
With a population of about 7 million, it has a small Christian community of between 150,000 and 200,000. Buddhism has been the main religion there for over a thousand years, mixed with ethnic-animism among the hill tribes. It used to be a monarchy, but was overcome by Communist forces in 1975 who have ruled it ever since.
This has led to very tight controls over the activities of Christian churches and Christian discipleship. There are three main Christian groups. The Laos Evangelical Church, The Catholic Church, and the Protestant Churches.
The Communist Party in Laos maintains close links with Vietnam and China, and levels of persecution seem to follow what happens in those countries, particularly China.
Although the constitution upholds freedom of religion, in effect Christianity is seen as a ‘Western Import’, and so all who adhere to it are viewed as suspicious, foreign agents, or betrayers of the country/tribe.
While government persecution tends to be pressure through administration, licences, permissions, buildings etc. the main challenges for Christians comes at local and family level, leading to harassment, being disowned by families, being ostracised and being expelled from villages. Arrest, beatings, torture and imprisonment, along with destruction of Christian literature, Bibles etc. is becoming more commonplace.
In spite of this the Churches continue to grow.
• Give thanks to God for the growth of the Church in Laos.
• Give thanks for those coming to faith in Jesus Christ, and for a strengthening of that faith.
• Pray for a change in the attitude of the Communist authorities towards Christians.
• Pray for increased openness and acceptance towards Christianity at all levels of society, especially at local level.
• Pray that Christians will have wisdom and discernment on how to witness to their Buddhist neighbours.
• Pray for a strengthening of believers faith in the face of persecution, to stand firm.
• Pray that Christians in Laos will be able to freely have access to Bibles, Christian literature, and to register new churches.
• Pray that discrimination in schools and the workplace will grow less.