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[Field Story] Christian persecution in Laos similar to China… “Mission also like underground church"

Voice of the Martyrs, “individual delivery” of Bibles to 2,100 believers in Laos

Hyun Sook Foley, CEO of Voice of the Martyrs Korea (VOM of Korea), said, "As China's influence on the Lao government's religious policy increases, the method of distributing the Bible to Lao Christians has changed from mass distribution to individual delivery.” Voice of the Martyrs recently worked with local Laos workers to secretly deliver the Bible to 500 church leaders and 1,600 church members individually. In addition, 660 hymns were delivered.

CEO Hyeon Sook Foley said, “Laos not only shares a border with China, but also shares communist ideology, which includes strong restrictions on religion. "The arrest in Laos is a sign of Chinese influence over the Lao government," she said. "It is not surprising that the Lao government adopts Chinese-style religious restrictions to curb the burgeoning Christian population."

CEO Hyun Sook Foley analysed, “The Christian population in Laos was 400 in 1994, but it exceeded 250,000 in 2020 and is expected to exceed 400,000 by the end of 2023.”

"The main ordeal coming from outside is persecution and regulation," she said. Most of the persecution of Christians in Laos is carried out by families or village officials who fear that Christianity will anger the spirits they believe in, fearing that the villagers will offend them. It is not only the spirits that are concerned, because Laotian government officials are also watching the growth of unregistered churches with concern."

“In Laos, as in China, there is a clear expectation and growing pressure from the government that ‘all churches must officially register with the government and strictly abide by all religious regulations.’ These regulations also prevent access to the Bible. It is controlled. Bibles are not sold in regular bookstores in Laos, but in registered churches. And some foreign groups have applied to the government authorities to allow Bibles to be brought in for mass distribution."

▲There were 400 Christians in Laos in 1994, 250,000 in 2020, and is expected to exceed 400,000 by the end of 2023.

However, she said that "when church members who are not registered with the government purchase Bibles from government-registered churches or receive Bibles at government-sanctioned distribution events, leaders and colleagues of the churches they belong to can be exposed and pressured by villagers and government officials." "Receiving the Bible openly is like leaving a trail for suspicious villagers or government officials to come to the door of a pastor or believer who is not registered with the government."


CEO Hyun Sook Foley points out that because of the mass growth of Christianity in Laos, most churches do not have properly trained pastors.

"Most of the pastors have little education, and many don't even have a Bible. Typically, the oldest or wealthiest person in a Christian community becomes the church leader, and in most villages, church buildings are not allowed. When growth is seen, village leaders try to stop it at all costs, Christians have a hard time supporting themselves and their families, and Christians may not be able to find a job, as most jobs are set by the government. You may be denied other welfare services. There is no official seminary in Laos. The only church recognized by the government is the Lao Evangelical Church” she said.

Foley emphasised that the best way to address the challenges facing the growing Christian community in Laos is through centralized collaboration with official church organizations, as well as large-scale ministries that require government permission, and private, covert engagements with individual believers.

"The early history of Christianity in Korea shows the power of individual Bible distribution. Despite the active efforts of the Joseon Dynasty to prevent the spread of Christianity, 15,000 John Ross Bibles were already distributed before the first Western missionaries arrived in Korea. The volume was secretly distributed directly. Just as the Laotian government follows the Chinese government's religious policy, the Laotian church can learn from the Chinese underground church" she said.

She also added that, “While the Chinese government was able to confiscate megachurch buildings, consolidate all Bible purchases into a single official channel, and block large-scale plans by American and Korean missionaries to help the Chinese church, it could not prevent the spread of Christianity from door to door in the countryside. This is exactly what we have been focusing on in China over the past few years, personally supplying Bibles and Bible study materials to individual believers who request them. The time has come to try the same approach."

In addition, “Voice of the Martyrs is currently planning to secretly deliver the audio Bible to Lao believers who request it. Especially in rural areas, there are many Christians who cannot read or write. We are working on a list, and the list is getting longer, but we will be working to fulfill the request of the congregants in the coming months."

Source: Christian Daily

3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” 4 But what is God's reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace (Romans 11:3-5)

God, the persecution of Christians in Laos is becoming similar to China. In Laos, as in China, there is growing pressure from the government to require all churches to be officially registered with the government and to strictly observe all religious regulations. It also controls access to the Bible.

However, just as the Chinese church has grown stronger in the midst of severe persecution and now has a vision of sending 1 million missionaries, we believe that the gospel will spread beyond ASEAN to Jerusalem through the Lord's Church, which rises even in the midst of persecution in Laos.

The Laos Church is the church of the remnant who have not bowed their knees to Baal. May the Church of Laos, which has the spirituality of the remnant chosen by grace, preach the gospel boldly with the power of the Holy Spirit without bowing to persecution.

May the spirit of power and government in Laos, which trembles in fear of the gospel being spread, kneel in front of the truth, and may there be the spreading of the gospel that no one can stop across all of Laos!


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