April 10, 2003
Charlottesville, VA (Christian Aid) -- Lao Christians are paying dearly for their faith as authorities continue to crack down on the Christian movement. Lao authorities closed four churches recently and arrested several of their leaders.
Two Lao Christian leaders, Mr. Ton, 58, and Mr. Serun, 45, were arrested on April 3. Authorities attempted to stop the Nong-ing church worship on March 30. The church leaders persuaded the authorities to let the meeting continue, but they returned on April 3 and made the arrests. Then they tore down the church building with their hands, according to a confidential report received by Christian Aid. It is thought the church was targeted because it was visited by a high-ranking U.S. official earlier this year.
The same U.S. representative visited the church in Kdngkok, also, and found the worshipers all wearing sackcloth to show their continuous suffering under the present regime. Authorities have now seized the church building there and turned it into a government office.
In addition, a church in Chonburi District, Savannakhet Province, was closed and believers were told not to gather outside the building for any kind of worship.
Local officials also closed a church of ethnic Bru people near the Vietnam border. Most of the Bru live in Vietnam, but these were ethnic Bru living in Laos. Not only was the church closed but Mr. Koy, the leader, and 13 co-leaders and their families were forced from their homes.
The authorities were reported to have said, "We told you to stop worshipping God and to stop teaching the Christian religion and you have disobeyed."
Please pray for these Christians. They are peaceful, diligent families who have done nothing immoral or criminal but are attacked and suffer only because they worship the Lord Jesus Christ. Gifts to help provide food, clothing and shelter for these homeless families and the families of jailed leaders can be sent to Christian Aid at www.christianaid.org or by calling 1-800-977-5650. For more information write email@example.com and put MI-414 730-CFL on the subject line.