Seven Christians were exiled from their homes in the southeast Asian nation of Laos earlier this month for refusing to renounce their faith, and have since taken to living in a hut in the woods while subsisting off of little to no provisions.
On Oct. 10, local authorities evicted members of two families from the village of Pasing-Kang in the Ta-Oesy district in Saravan, which is located in southern Laos, according to Vatican News. A local source told the outlet that village authorities have rebuffed attempts to help the persecuted Christians as they struggle to survive.
“Their family members are too scared [to help them] and fear they, too, will be thrown out of their homes if they dare to provide any help,” a local villager said.
“They have no food or clothing and do not know where to turn for help,” the villager continued. “The village authorities will not allow relatives or other people to help them.”
In December 2019, Laos passed a law that allows Laotian Christians, who comprise only about 3% of its 7 million people, to meet in churches and evangelize; according to Voice of the Martyrs, however, persecution lingers in animist rural areas, where Christians are persecuted by “family members or village authorities who are concerned that Christians offend the spirits.”
Christianity is viewed as an American religion or as a tool of the CIA to undermine the Laotian regime. Many Laotians also believe Christians anger the spirits. House churches and church buildings exist, but the vast majority do not have a trained pastor. In most villages, no church buildings are allowed. If village leaders notice that a house church is growing, they will try to stop it. Christians often are unable to get jobs, most of which are through the government, and they commonly are denied medical treatment, education and other social services. There are no open Bible schools in the country. The Lao Evangelical Church is the only government-recognized church. Lao believers are often arrested and held for up to a week.
As Christian Aid Mission reported earlier this year, 13 Laotian Christian suffered malnourishment during a drought because supplies were kept from them. “The government wants to give special assistance to the people, but the village headman did not give any to the Christians,” a local ministry leader told the organization. “They are waiting until they renounce their faith.”
“They are blocking these four families so that they will not have any access either outside or inside the village,” the leader added. “They hope that then they will not be able to survive, and in the end will renounce their faith. Thank you, God, that six of them were able to come to our border seminar to get encouragement from us.”