Laos house church reopens as district officials support Christians by enforcing law

27 March 2024

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A small house church in southern Laos attacked by residents and village leaders in February is now reopening under the protection of district authorities.

On Sunday 4 February a mob of residents and village authorities tore down the house where Christians in Kaleum Vangke village in Savannakhet province’s Xonboury district were gathered and interrupted the worship service. The attackers also burned Bibles and other documents.

Ministry of Public Security officials have since stepped in to protect the Christians’ right to worship, a resident of the village and church member stated at the end of February. “[The officials] announced that from now on, our fellow Christians can resume worship,” he said. “So, starting this week, we’re rebuilding our place of worship. Right now, we’re putting wooden planks back up.”

Village authorities and residents gathering to tear down the house church in Kaleum Vangke village in Savannakhet province, Laos, on Sunday 4 February, which has since reopened [Image credit: Citizen journalist]

Another churchgoer added that while the building is being repaired, the church will still meet for worship.

“But the village authorities and other non-Christian villagers are still threatening us, threatening to tear down our place of worship again,” he said. “But we are getting stronger now. We’re not afraid to get together at that house anymore.”

He said that the district level authorities warned the village authorities not to harass Christians again.

However, a district official disclosed that there were unresolved issues arising from the incident. “The district police haven’t done anything to re-educate or punish those village authorities and the group of villagers who tore down the Christian place of worship yet,” he said.

The tearing down of Christian homes and eviction of Christians from villages has happened repeatedly in country districts in Laos, despite a national “Law on the Evangelical Church”, in force since December 2019, giving Christians the right to conduct services, preach throughout the country and maintain contacts with believers abroad. But in rural areas this law has not had much impact yet.

Praise God for the support of the district authorities in providing protection for the house church to reopen. Pray that this backing will continue, and that Christians will be able to meet regularly without harassment.

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