Story Laos | 14 April 2024

Laos, church worships as mob tears down their walls


Show: false / Country: Laos / Laos
The believers sat stunned as the thick, black smoke curled around their gathering. The burned Bibles and Christian songbooks were still smoldering, and the broken communion tray lay nearby.

Pastor Phasouk* and the other believers in his house church in southern Laos looked around in disbelief. “I and some leaders … thought, What are these people doing? Why are they doing this? What’s the point?” Pastor Phasouk says.

But their confusion quickly gave forth to something more familiar and much more radical: Worship. “Since we couldn’t do anything to stop them, we sang praises instead,” Pastor Phasouk says.

The attack that took place in early February was sudden. “We were worshiping … as usual,” Pastor Phasouk remembers. “A group of more than 40 people, including the village chief, elders, village guards, women and youth, marched to my house and fellowship area. They brought wood sticks and hammers.” The house the church meets in belongs to Pastor Phasouk, and he is pastor and leader of the congregation.

“Villagers observed the service at first, and then one of them hit the wooden wall, making a loud echo throughout the area,” Pastor Phasouk continues.

The service continued and the 60 Christians gathered did their best to listen attentively to the Word of God. But then the voice of a village elder rang out: ‘‘Stop your service now! You are not allowed to worship God here!”

As if waiting for their cue, the angry mob began taking down the house’s walls with their hammers.

The village elder noticed a box full of Bibles and songbooks and ordered one of the younger participants of the mob to grab the books. “Put them down on the ground and burn them all,” the elder commanded. One of the other villagers took the communion tray and threw it to the ground until it broke into pieces.

The mob didn’t leave until they saw there was nothing left to destroy. They departed with a stark warning to Pastor Phasouk and the other believers: “If you continue to hold fellowship in this house or our village, next time, we will burn this house down."

Recently, Lamthan*, a local Open Doors partner, was able to visit Pastor Phasouk and the other Christians. “Our morning journey began as the sun ascended into the blue sky,” Lamthan says. “We rode motorbikes on an unpaved road while dust flew along the way. [We wanted to hear] more details about the incident [and] to encourage and strengthen the Christians, giving them hope in resolving their problem.”

As Lathman spoke with Pastor Phasouk, he asked the leader if they had continued to gather after the violence. “Yes, we continued our fellowship, even though we knew they kept an eye on us,” Pastor Phasouk shared.

“I felt depth in his voice,” Lathamn says. “Even in persecution, they dare to worship the Lord.”

Lathman knows the situation is hard, and that solutions will not always be easy. “[These] believers tried to reach out to many leaders, hoping that someone could help them with their case,” he says. “While they want to solve the problem as soon as possible, similar cases have only produced results in a year or two, or even a decade. However, one thing is for sure: The believers stay steadfast and believe in God's way, which will provide them encouragement throughout this ordeal.”

Indeed, Pastor Phasouk’s faith will provide strength even in the uncertain days ahead. “Even if they come back and attempt to expel us again, we won’t leave this place,” he told Lathman. “We will fight for our rights. We will continue to have fellowship as we had in the past. We will only leave if they provide us with a place where we can worship the Lord. Even if it is outside the village, it is OK for us.”
As Lathman met with the Christians in the village, they sang a song of worship that shows their remarkable hope in these times of trial.

please pray
  •  Pray for the leader’s wisdom in preparing for any situation that the believers in this church may encounter.
  • Pray for pastor Phasouk to stay steadfast and confident in the Lord.
give today

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 provide continuous support to the persecuted church worldwide and enable us to respond immediately to emergency situations.