Story Laos | 06 November 2023

A Dangerous Visit: Meeting Peto, an Ex-Soldier Now an Evangelis


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An Open Doors team recently went to visit Peto*, in one of the most remote villages in southern Laos, who was kicked out of his home and dismissed from his military post because he boldly confesses his faith in Christ. Instead of breaking him, Peto is now an itinerant evangelist traveling from one area to another to proclaim the gospel. Through Open Doors partners in Laos, he received different discipleship and leadership trainings that helped him in his ministry.
Meeting Peto was not easy.
His village is in one of the most isolated areas in southern Laos. From the nearest city where our team took off, it took us almost four hours of the off-road journey—traversing through muddy highways, thick forests, and deep ravines with winding rivers beneath—only a few motorists dared to take the same road. But this is the only way to reach Peto.

“Sometimes, the road conditions are worse than this, especially during the rainy season. The roads are almost impassable and dangerous—thick mud, landslides, and flash floods—these are a few of the obstacles one might encounter when traveling here,” says Nui* our local guide, and Peto’s friend.

Although we were allowed to go to Peto’s village, our meeting with him was discreet. His house was just several meters from the guesthouse where our team was staying, but it would be too risky to stay there for too long as most of his neighbors are from the military. Peto could be monitored or interrogated if  we stay at his home longer. Peto’s village is too far to be reached by tourists and too dangerous for sightseeing. A visit from outsiders always sparks curiosity from the villagers.

We decided to meet with him at the guesthouse the following day. And to our surprise, a group of military men was staying at the same hostel. “The head of the military force in the district is here for inspections, his troop is staying here. Let’s all be careful. I’ll stay in the lobby and look out for our group. I’ll ring you if we need to pack up,” says one member of our team.

Thankfully, we didn’t have to leave without hearing all of Peto’s story.

Homeless because of his faith

Peto, a slender man in his 40s, cleared his throat as he scanned the room full of fellow believers waiting to hear his story. The gaze in his eyes hints that he was half nervous and half overjoyed. “This is his first time to be visited by believers from other parts of the world, in fact, from other parts of Laos,” says Nui. Peto is a married man, a father to two kids, a farmer, and an evangelist. Long before he became a Christian, he and his family revered the spirits and practiced ancestor worship. For most of his life, he had no idea who or what God was.

It wasn’t until 2010 that he was very sick. For three days, he couldn’t eat, nor he could work properly because of his toothache. “My illness led me to know Jesus. A pastor came to pray for me, and I was healed. Because of this, I became a Christian.” And it wasn’t long before his wife also accepted Jesus in her life.

But just a few weeks later, trouble followed.

“When the village chief and the villagers learned that we have become Christians, they were unhappy about it. They wanted to kick us out of the village. They warned us three times to stop believing in Jesus otherwise we will be expelled from the village. On the third warning, they told us they wouldn't be responsible if something happens to us. It was more than just a warning; it was a threat.”

But Peto was unwavering. He and his family continued to stay in the village, and he became more curious about the God who healed him. He began to grow a deeper relationship with Him and started to share God’s Word with his relatives and the villagers. Peto’s boldness and passion did not sit well with them; it set in motion a series of persecution incidents for him and his family.

“I was no longer included in those who received projects or help provided by charities or private organizations. In another incident, the villagers killed all my farm animals. They brutally hit my ducks, chickens, and goats with sticks until they died.”

But these did not intimidate Peto. It was when his wife got sick, and he refused to make an offering to the village spirits that he and his family were forced to leave the village.

“They forced me to offer a cow, a buffalo, and many more to the village ghost. What else can I give? They already killed them all. And why would I do this again? I now belong to Jesus. Instead, I asked our pastor to pray for my family, and for my wife, and she was healed. She got better every day even when we didn’t go see a doctor or offer anything to the spirits. I held on to God’s promise in the Bible that if our prayer comes from faith, He will heal the sick. I prayed to God faithfully every day.

“When I did not obey them and didn't make the offering, they were enraged, they refused to accept me, and forcefully kicked our family out of the village.”

When Peto and his family left the village, they were only allowed to bring what their hands could carry. They were only able to bring a blanket, pairs of clothes, and a few pieces of equipment. They walked for two days until they reached the village where they are currently staying. “When I left the village, I didn’t question, nor did I doubt God. Three other Christian families were also kicked out. There were only six Christian families there including us. Only two families were allowed to remain.”

‘They wanted me dead’

Peto’s misfortune did not end when he moved to another village. In 2013, through the help of his wife’s relative who was working in the district military camp, Peto became a soldier.

“I said yes when he asked me if I wanted to join the government’s armed force. I needed a job. He wrote the application letter for me, and I got in the military”.

Although he knew what the consequences would be, Peto shared with four or five of his friends in the military that he is a Christian. He also shared with them the gospel.

“The moment they heard about it; they wanted me dead. They said they are going to shoot me withtheir guns if I won’t recant my faith. They were my friends, but they threatened to kill me. There is no law in Laos that prohibits Christians from serving in the military. But some hate Christianity so much because they believe it is a foreign religion and a betrayal of the county. This is why when someone becomes a Christian, he is considered a traitor and should not be allowed to join the military force.

“That time, I may have cried too many tears, but I was not afraid to get killed. I had faith in God. I wasn’t afraid to die because even if I die that day, I’ll be with God in heaven.”

When his superiors knew about this, for nine months he did not receive a salary—it was his ministry and his family’s bread and butter. Peto was also castigated and asked to sign a paper renouncing his faith.

“They made me choose: ‘You continue being a soldier or you continue being a Christian?’ They asked me to sign the document saying I must forsake my Christian faith, otherwise, I am no longer qualified as a military. I decided to serve the Lord. I refused to sign the paper. Then, I was relieved of my post.

“But I believe that God is real, and He will lead me out of that painful situation. Persecution taught me a good lesson. God taught me this lesson—that those who believe and follow Jesus will be persecuted.
This is my cost of following Him.”

How you helped Peto

Stripped of his main source of income, Peto thought life would be more difficult. But the Lord faithfully provided for him and his family. In fact, it opened more doors for him to serve the Lord. He travels to different villages in southern Laos where the gospel is unheard of, prays for the sick, and encourages weary people.

“After serving in the military for almost a decade, I became a full-time farmer— growing vegetables, making charcoal, raising chickens and pigs, and clearing land for others—in exchange for a daily wage. But by leaving the military, I was able to serve God without much hindrance.

“In my heart, I don't want to stop sharing the gospel, I want to share more even if gets me into trouble. I will continue to share the Good News even on the most difficult and dangerous roads with my trusty old
motorbike.”And through your support, Open Doors partners in Laos helped equip Peto in his ministry with leadership and discipleship trainings that not only strengthened Peto’s awareness and response when persecution comes but also helped him equip those whom he disciples. It provided him with tools and methods for effective and efficient church shepherding.

“I have attended different trainings six times. It had so much impact on me—I knew more about God, and I learned how to serve Him and His people better. It was a great help in my ministry. It is my desire
to bring other believers to these trainings so that they too will be encouraged and equipped.

“Thank you for letting me attend these trainings. Thank you for your support in everything— for the food, transportation, accommodation, materials, and especially for us to learn more about God. Thank you for this opportunity for us to study.

“Right now, I am an ordinary man—no prestigious military position, no name for myself—but I serve the one true God.

*Names changed for security reasons

please pray

Peto wants you to support him even more through your prayers. Personally, he would like you to pray for the following:

“I ask you to pray for the land where we can build a church for worship. Pray that the Lord will provide for this.”

“Please pray also for our brothers and sisters in faith that they will be bold and courageous in proclaiming the gospel despite the risks that are involved with it.”


Will you consider giving regularly to the persecuted church?

Open Doors aims to “strengthen what remains and is about to die” (Rev 3:2). Your Monthly Donation can help us to provide continuous support to the persecuted church worldwide and enable us to respond immediately to emergency situations.