Laos Threatens Expulsion Christian Villagers; Widow Forgives Husband's Killers

Friday, September 26, 2008

By BosNewsLife Asia Service

VIENTIANE, LAOS (BosNewsLife) -- Dozens of Christian villagers in Laos were reportedly facing uncertainty Thursday, September 25, after local authorities told them they will be expelled because several Christian families refuse to renounce their faith in Christ. It came as a widow said she had forgiven those who killed her husband because of his church activities, the latest in several violent incidents against Christian villagers in parts of the Communist nation.

The chief of Boukham village in Savannakhet province said after a special community meeting last week that 55 Christians would have to leave because eight resident Christian families have refused to abandon Christianity, reported rights group Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF).

Pastor Sompong Supatto, 32, and two other believers from the village, Boot Chanthaleuxay, 18, and Khamvan Chanthaleuxay, also 18, reportedly remain in detention in the nearby Ad-Sapangthong district police detention cell. Rights watchers said police have held the men in handcuffs and wooden foot stocks since their arrest on August 3, causing numbness and infection in their legs and feet due to lack of blood circulation.

Authorities have reportedly said they will release the three only if they renounce their faith. Officials initially arrested Supatto and four other believers from the Boukham church on July 20. Police also over 60 Christians present to cease worshiping or they would face arrest and imprisonment for “believing and worshiping God,” news reports said.


Lao authorities have arrested or detained at least 90 Christians in recent weeks following raids on three provinces, where several Christian believers have died, several Christian sources have confirmed. In one incident villagers killed a Christian by pouring rice wine down his throat until he drowned, Christians said earlier. When family members buried him and put a wooden cross on his grave, village officials accused them of 'practising the rituals of the enemy of the state,' said Release International, a well-informed Christian aid and advocacy group.

However the widow of a murdered church leader in Laos was quoted as saying that she forgives her husband’s killers who tried try to destroy the church. The woman, who was identified as Abigail, which is not her real name, said "Christianity is spreading in Laos - despite persecution - and Christians are growing strong in the faith," Release International said.

When Release International investigators visited her church she was apparently preaching from Bible verse 1 Corinthians 13: 'Love keeps no record of any wrongs.' She reportedly told the group that if she were to come face to face with her husband’s killer, she would tell him "about God's love."


She was quoted as saying that, "even when I do something wrong He always forgives me, so I would tell him I love him, because God loves him, too - and God will forgive him."

Abigail does apparently not yet know who killed her husband, but she believes the killers wanted to the church. "The reason I believe he was killed was because he served God. The church is growing. We are training and making more Christian disciples and leaders," she reportedly said.

It was not clear what, if any role, security forces played in his murder. However rights groups have suggested that authorities are encouraging aggression against especially evangelical Christians who they see as a threat to the Communist government's power base. Lao officials could not be reached for comment.

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