12/13/2020 Laos (International Christian Concern) – As many Christians around the world are preparing themselves for the celebration of Christmas, in Buddhist majority Laos, the minority Christians face a difficult choice – if they do not celebrate behind closed doors, trouble might come find them.
In the communist country where practicing Buddhism and animism are the norm, Christians can easily offend their non-Christian neighbors who view Christianity as an alien religion or a tool of western imperialism.
UCA News reports that Christians in Laos are among Southeast Asia’s most persecuted religious minorities. Yet, the outside world has largely ignored their plight, except for a few Christian organizations that continue to aid their body in Christ in Laos and report on the latest atrocities against them.
“Christians who have converted from the primary religions — Buddhism and traditional animism — are the most targeted for persecution; they are thought to have rejected their families and communities,” explains Open Doors, a Christian persecution watchdog.
Indeed, in 2020, ICC records a few incidents where Lao Christians were persecuted by their neighbors or the government. For attending a Christian funeral, four local Christians were imprisoned; for refusing to renounce their faith, seven Christians were kicked out of their village; a pastor was arrested for organizing service without permission in March; and a pastor’s daughter is asked by the authorities to renounce her faith and pay hefty fine, in exchange of her release for killing her rapist by accident.
According to UCA News, it would not be a surprise, that Christmas this year for many persecuted Christians in Laos will be a far less joyful and spirited affair than it should be. Yet the holiday’s salvific message will undoubtedly have an especial resonance for these long-suffering Christians, whose situation brings to mind the persecution of early Christians in Ancient Rome.
Please continue to keep the Lao brothers and sisters in your prayers, especially as we joyfully celebrate the birth of Jesus.