For more on my Lenten Focus, see my Ash Wednesday post. A quick summary is that I am spending Lent fasting and praying for the Persecuted Church, and I invite you to join me.
Laos is number 28 on Open Doors’ World Watch List and is classified as a nation with moderate persecution.
The Communist Party, which has ruled Laos since 1975, maintains close ties to Vietnam and China. The power and influence of neighboring Vietnam, China and Burma have somewhat isolated Laos economically and geographically. This isolation has fostered a resurgence of abuses by communist authorities, who feel threatened by Protestant Christianity. The predominant religion is Theravada Buddhism, which coexists easily with the animistic spirit worship of the mountain tribes. While Laos does not have an official state religion, the government gives financial support and promotes Buddhism as part of the culture, and also exempts Buddhist groups from a number of restrictions imposed on other groups.
As one of the few remaining communist nations, Laos is a volatile area for Christians. Officially, the constitution allows for religious freedom, and the government officially recognizes four religions, including Christianity. In practice, however, Christians are harassed, evicted from their homes and forcibly relocated, denied education opportunities, arrested and forced to deny their faith. Officials often use a Religious Practice decree, which prohibits activities that create “social division” or “chaos,” to hinder the spread of Christianity. Some believers have started carrying copies of the constitution to help defend themselves against village authorities who tell them their activities are illegal. Churches are watched carefully by the government.
- That the country’s communist government will relent in its pressure on the small Christian community
- For protection over the members of the illegal church meetings which are often raided
- For Christians in small villages to stay loyal to their faith despite the threat of being forced from their homes
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