LAOS – CHRISTIANS ROBBED AND INTIMIDATED BY VILLAGE AUTHORITIES

Barnabas Fund. Dozens of Christian families in Katin village in the Saravan province of Laos have been warned that they will lose their homes and livestock if they refuse to abandon their faith and worship the “local spirits” of Lao tradition. On 5 July a group of villagers, including some leaders and members of the volunteer security forces, broke into the pig pens of some recent converts to Christianity and confiscated a pig from each of nine families (comprising 53 people). One pig is worth about six weeks’ wages for an average labourer in the area. Later the attackers slaughtered the animals and divided the meat among themselves. Officials stated that the families had been punished for ignoring an order forbidding them from believing in the Christian faith. Then on 11 July all the villagers were required by the village chief to attend a special meeting. The officials issued an order that stated, “Those who follow the Christian faith are practising a foreign religion, not a religion of Laos. We have banned the Christian faith in our village. Thus, the residents of Katin village should follow only the belief in the spirits … the Lao religion. If any villager … is found following the Christian faith … he or she will no longer be under the official provision and protection of the village.” Without such protection, the Christians will be liable to the seizure of their remaining animals and their property. The constitution of Laos guarantees freedom of religion, and the actions of the village authorities clearly violates its provisions. In practice, however, the government is concerned about the spread of Christianity, and pressure is growing on Christians in rural areas. • Please pray for the villagers who have been threatened with ruin. Ask that the Lord will protect their homes and livelihoods.• Pray for the village authorities, and for the Lao government, that they will honor their country’s commitment to religious freedom for all.

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