Rejected by 22 villages BUT glad to tell them about Jesus!
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 Christian.”
Lum*, my interpreter, reads the letters one by one, his fingers tracing the flowing handwriting. Page after page the rejections mount up:
“This is from Chompei Village…This letter came from Dom San Village…This is Tom Chai Lei Village …Meng Village…, all saying ‘we cannot allow you to live with us because you are a Christian or from another religion.’”
In less than five minutes, the year-long journey of rejection for the young 22 year old man opposite me is laid bare.
Warned five times
I met Nung on a wet July, Sunday morning. Exactly one year ago, he and his family were forced from their home, losing their farmland and all they had worked for because they refused to recant Jesus.
Nung found Jesus after being healed: “When I got sick, I felt terrible. I went to church and they prayed for me and I was healed by God. Everyone in my family saw that I was healed by God and they too started to believe in Jesus.”
Excited, he could not keep his newfound salvation to himself. He went from village to village proclaiming the Good News. He said, “Many people started coming to church. The village leaders and the police told us not to share the Gospel, and if many people became Christians, they would kick us out of the village. They warned us five times.”
Nung says his family were called to the village office. There they found the police, religious leaders, and the villagers in the hall, who told them: “If you believe in Jesus, get out.”
“They told us that they didn’t want to talk to us and we should pay 30,000 kip (4 USD) to each one of them for wasting their time.” Nung recalls. “There were around sixty people.”
Nung and his parents were given an ultimatum. “They gave us three options. First, we should get out if we chose to be Christians. Second, if we wanted to stay we should come back to the H’mong religion, and third, if we don’t choose anything, they’d just put us in jail.”
Nung remained firm, and was thrown behind bars, leaving his ailing parents on their own.
“You must stop believing in Jesus.”
In his dank jail cell, Nung dreamed of Jesus and told a fellow believer about his dream, but other ears were listening.
“My friend and I were taken to see the guards. They asked us about the dream I had that night and asked if we really believed that Jesus would come to help us. ‘Do you know that this religion came from the West? It is not our faith! Why do you believe in Jesus? You must stop this!’
Hoping to get Nung released from prison, his father wrote application letters to several villages. None said yes, but the authorities released Nung anyway. He was free, but had nowhere to go so he applied to 22 villages in person. These were the documents spread out on the coffee table, all stamped and returned with rejection.
Peace that transcends all understanding
The rain outside our hotel room kept pouring down. Nung had brought photographs of his family, and thumbed through them, finally landing on his father’s wrinkled face. He murmured something to Lum, who shakes his head.
“He said his father died two months after he was imprisoned,” Lum translates. “The police asked him for money and a pig for the funeral. They were going to offer the pig to their gods. He was against it and didn’t have the money.”
“I was devastated,” Nung says, “But only for a short while. I was sad because I lost many things. We lost our farm and our possessions, but I am proud and happy that I went to see 22 villages and had the chance to tell them that I believe Jesus. And though they refused, there is peace in my heart because they heard about Jesus.”