Laos (CAM) — People who come to faith in Laos know first-hand what Christ meant when He said a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.
When a native missionary led a salesman to Christ last year, the new believer earlier this year shared his faith with a prospective buyer of his goods, a 52-year-old widow whose family was steeped in worship of the spirits and gods of her ancestors. She embraced Christ; her daughter and son-in-law did not.
The widow, Pei*, was secretly discipled at a native ministry’s church for five months before she developed the strength of faith to tell her daughter and son-in-law about her conversion, the ministry leader said.
“After saying only a few words about Jesus, both her daughter and son-in-law immediately began to violently criticize her,” the leader said.
“They told her if she did not stop believing Jesus, they would report her to the police, put her in jail or kick her out of the house, because the son-in-law is a policeman.”
Over the following weeks they told her that Christianity was shameful, illegal and an enemy of the country, culminating in the husband saying he would divorce her daughter if she did not leave the house, the leader said.
Steadfast that belief in God was good and legal, Pei said she shared about Christ with them because she loved them, but that if they were not ready to receive His grace, could they at least allow her to stay with them. They continued to reprimand her in the following weeks and begged her to renounce Christ.
“In June, while they were yelling at her to leave the house, they grabbed all her clothes and threw them out of the house,” the leader said. “They told her to live with her people who shared about Jesus with her. They told her to never return to the house.”
Weeping as she gathered up her clothes, Pei went to the site of the church where a local missionary, the pastor, had helped her solidify her faith, the leader said. The pastor and other church members came to see her and encouraged her, he said.
“They helped in finding accommodation in the city where she could live,” he said. “Sometimes they brought her food, and they encouraged her so she would not be too sad about her daughter and son-in-law. Please pray for Pei.”
In spite of such opposition, local missionaries are finding nothing can stop the message of God’s salvation from taking root and spreading.
Just as Christ said He would set a man against his father and a daughter against her mother (Matthew 10:35), a married couple brooked opposition from both their parents when they committed to Christ. Both suffering from a mysterious ailment that sometimes kept them from being able to move, the 32-year-old husband and his 35-year-old wife gradually recovered after meeting with a local missionary who led them to put their faith in Christ in June.
Upon learning they had become Christians a week later, their parents drove them out of their home, the ministry leader said.
“The couple had nowhere to go, so they went to stay with the Christian leader of the village,” he said. “After the couple stayed with him, their bodies were stronger and healthier. Our ministry leaders visited with them and prayed for them, and they were among four families to receive sacks of rice and pieces of galvanized roofing.”
In officially atheistic, communist Laos, about 60 percent of the population is Buddhist and 32 percent animist, though animism also permeates many of the Buddhists’ beliefs and practices. People are coming to Christ in spite of the strong cultural walls these forces pose to the gospel, with Christian radio and live Facebook presentations especially effective, the leader said.
Recently 16 families in one area and six families in another received Christ, with local missionaries providing discipleship through MP3 players loaded with digital, biblical teaching, he said. Workers are also presenting seminars at which many people are committing to Christ and growing in their faith.
“We’re giving seminars with our team going to visit, follow-up, evangelize and shepherd the many churches in their own local area,” the leader said. “They could not do much from May-June due to travel restrictions, but now they are able to travel within their local province, so it has been a good thing.”
Even with the COVID-19 restrictions, the ministry gave 47 seminars for 3,157 people from January to June. Topics included basic Christian living, principles of Jesus’ teachings, marriage issues and how to stand strong in faith.
“Some of these seminars are set up to start spiritual revival in some local churches where the believers are not growing or are distant from God,” the leader said. “Two trainings are for strengthening believers in their faith, so that when persecution or resistance from the villagers eventually comes, they are able to stay strong and not renounce their faith.”
Teams of local missionaries are working throughout the country to proclaim Christ and strengthen believers in the face of growing opposition. Help equip and encourage believers in Laos through Christian Aid Mission.
*Name changed for security reasons
Header and story images courtesy of Christian Aid Mission.