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News / Thoughts

Laos: At least 15 Christians arrested this year

April 3, 2023

Since the beginning of 2023, at least 15 Christians, including young people, have been arrested by local authorities in different areas of Laos because of their faith in Jesus. This seems to be a new, emerging trend in Laos.

In early February, three church leaders from southern Laos were imprisoned for refusing to recant their faith. On the morning of February 3, a police prisoner transport truck pulled up in a village in southern Laos and all Christians were summoned for an urgent meeting. In the meeting, Christians were told to renounce their faith, if they didn’t they would be sent to prison.

Although scared, the believers stood firm. Three of the church leaders boldly said “no”. Immediately, they were dragged into the truck and transported to a local district prison. There was no trial, and they were not allowed to say anything or defend themselves.

Still shaken by what happened, the wives of the arrested believers immediately called leaders from the provincial registered (LEC) church for some help and guidance. But because of the overwhelming number of imprisonment cases these leaders are already preparing for, they were not able to immediately mediate for these three leaders.

An Open Doors partner shared, “These three church leaders attended a training and church assessment we organised last year, and they were bold in their faith.” She added, “Our local partners expected this to happen as believers from nearby churches were also imprisoned and their church buildings have been closed. Many Christians in the area also fear that more churches will be banned from operating in the coming months. In this area alone, two house churches were already closed this year, and some communities are still being monitored by authorities.”

Open Doors, through local partners, are providing practical and emotional support to members of the families left behind by the imprisoned believers. We also provide support to church leaders and organisations who help lobby their cases with the authorities.

Why is this happening?

Christians are a minority in Buddhist-majority Laos. In a population of just under 7.2 million, there are only around 199,000 believers.

The Communist authorities of Laos consider most church meetings ‘illegal gatherings’, and Christians live under intense scrutiny. Some churches are registered and heavily monitored, but others cannot get permission to meet and have to operate secretly. Even among the government-approved churches, few have permanent buildings of their own and have to meet in homes. Christians are generally viewed as Western-influenced ‘enemies of the state’.

Pray now…

  • For provision for the families of the three imprisoned believers. The arrested believers are the primary providers of their families.
  • For the imprisoned believers and their families to find strength in Christ alone. Pray that they continue to be steadfast and immovable despite challenges.
  • For wisdom and favorable dialogues to happen for the church leaders assigned to work on this case together with the government authorities.

We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.