Christians are a minority in Buddhist-majority Laos. In a population of just under 7.2 million, there are only around 199,000 believers.
What does persecution look like in Laos?
Christian activities are heavily monitored by the communist authorities, including those of registered churches. Especially in rural areas, house churches are forced to meet underground as they are considered “illegal gatherings.”
Life is especially difficult for converts to the Christian faith, who are at risk of persecution from their family and the local authorities. This can involve damage to property, confiscation of possessions and issuing of fines.
Opposition is heightened when a convert’s family or the local authorities stir up the local community against them, sometimes through local village meetings or by seeking the support of local religious leaders.
Provinces in the north (where the Hmong minority is concentrated) and Khammuane, Phongsaly and Savannakhet in the south have traditionally been difficult places for Christians to live. The local authorities in these areas still seem intent on removing any Christian witness.
What has changed compared to last year?
Laos has dropped two places to No. 22 on the 2021 World Watch List. This shows a marginal reduction in opposition to Christianity, reflected in the fact the government started a training program on freedom of religion and belief for local authorities. If this will lead to improvements at the grassroots level remains to be seen. Regardless, it will not change family and community opposition against converts, so Laos remains an enormously challenging country in which to follow Jesus.
Through local church partners, Open Doors strengthens persecuted believers in Laos by providing Christian materials, leadership and discipleship training, socio-economic development programs, advocacy support, emergency relief and practical aid.
- Give thanks for the growth of the church in Laos; pray that God will continue to use His people to bring more people knowledge of Jesus’ love.
- Pray that believers under pressure to recant their faith will have strength to stand firm.
- Pray for families and churches left without the support and leadership of a husband and/or leader; pray that all their needs will be met and that it would be an opportunity for others to grow and thrive.
Lord Jesus, give Your people strength to endure persecution, and grace to love and forgive their persecutors. May local and national authorities see Christians not as a threat but as valuable members of society. Continue to open the eyes of Laotians to the life-giving faith of their Christian neighbors. May Your kingdom come in Laos. Amen.