|World Watch List Rank||World Watch List Score|
|President Bounnhang Vorachit||7 million | 225,000 Christians|
|WWL Rank in 2017||Persecution Level|
|24||Very High Persecution|
The Marxist-Leninist government monitors all Christian churches, and conversions, evangelism and church activities all require government permission - not having authorisation could mean arrest. Christian converts from Buddhism or ethnic-animism face persecution from local authorities, since every conversion brings shame to the community. Laotian believers may also be physically attacked or expelled from their communities.
"I cannot go back to my village. Every time I go, someone calls the police," said Mei Mei,* a believer from Laos. After becoming a Christian, Mei shared the Gospel with five young people who all became Christians. "Because of this, they are expelled from the village by their own parents and the head of the village."
The young believers now stay with Mei in exile at a village six hours away from home. "A lot of times, I cry because of guilt," continues Mei. "I feel like it is my fault that these young people are suffering.
"There is no church in our village. There are also no Christians in other villages because the villagers themselves don't allow Christianity to exist. My family members want to accept Jesus Christ, but they are afraid of what the government will do. Currently, there are ten Christians in my village, but they don't reveal their identity because they are afraid. Pray that God will give them the courage to live out their faith."
The national identity of Laotians is inextricably linked to Buddhism. This makes it common for Christians like Mei to be expelled from their villages, and even tortured and imprisoned by their neighbours, relatives, and local officials for choosing to follow Jesus Christ - particularly in tribal areas.
Communities practising animism also see Christianity as a foreign element that may anger the spirits who protect the village. In one village, authorities tried to force Christians to worship ancestors and swear an oath to animist spirits, thereby demonstrating 'loyalty, innocence, and submission' to their leadership.
In order to keep everything under control, the country's Communist party puts enormous pressure on the small Christian minority. Elections in March 2016 led to significant power transfers within the government, but little is expected to change for believers. Seen as 'foreign agents', Christianity is viewed as a Western ideology that challenges Communism.
However, the main challenge for Christians comes from the country's local authorities who regard Christians as enemies. Believers must take extreme care when talking about their faith for fear of harassment, eviction and even arrest.
* Name changed for security reasons
Through local partners and churches, Open Doors strengthens persecuted believers in Laos through:
25th May 2017
Found in Stories
Laid out on the table were official documents from 22 different Lao villages. Handwritten, they all said: “We don’t want you here because you’re ChristianRead More