Laos (CAM/MNN) — The Laos constitution professes freedom of religion in its Constitution: “Lao citizens, irrespective of their sex, social status, education, faith, and ethnic groups are all equal before the law.” [Article 22]
Article 9, however, is loosely written to say, “The state respects and protects all lawful activities of the Buddhists and of other religious followers…to participate in the activities which are beneficial to the country and people.”
So, practicing Christianity in any of its manifestations can be construed as not being beneficial to the country. Charges are made against Christians for “violating the religious traditions of their ancestors.” Worship services, religious gatherings, Christian burial services, marriage ceremonies, prayer meetings, evensong, and praise all qualify as violations.
That also makes Christmas celebrations interesting. They are still a time of joy, excitement, and connection with friends and family. For Laotian Christians, they’re a time of reflection on Jesus’ coming to earth as an infant. Christian Aid Mission, a ministry dedicated to supported indigenous missionaries around the world, reports how Christians in this 59.6% Buddhist nation hold Christmas outreach parties, complete with food, gifts, songs, skits, and a Gospel presentation.
According to Christian Aid Mission, the country’s ministry leader says that 10,000 people typically attend these celebrations, and that within two years, 20% of these who hear the Gospel give their lives to Christ. The events bear fruit far into the future, as follow-up groups visit and plant churches.
One problem these Christians face, however, is persecution. Open Doors USA lists the country as #28 on its 2015 World Watch List, citing tribal antagonism from villagers adhering to animistic practices as the main source of persecution. Those who convert to Christianity are often ostracized by their community and family–sometimes even tortured or imprisoned. Thankfully, the Christmas season provides a bit of peace and freedom for Christians. Often times, even government officials are invited to these celebrations.
Interested in how you can help these believers continue spreading Christ’s love during the Christmas season? It costs about $300 dollars for a congregation to hold one of these community-wide celebrations. Click here and look under November 23 to give financially. Click here to learn more about Christian Aid Mission and how this ministry is supporting indigenous missionaries around the world.
Remember also to pray that Christians would find continued favor with the authorities during this season, and that many would receive salvation.