How many Christians are there in Laos?
Christians are a minority in Buddhist-majority Laos. In a population of over 7.6 million, there are only around 212,000 believers.
How are Christians persecuted in Laos?
Christians in Laos were shocked in October 2022 by the murder of a pastor. Across the country, violence rose substantially this year over last year – a shocking increase even for a place where believers are used to physical threats. Christians were kicked out of their communities, their homes were destroyed, and they endured so much for following Jesus.
The spike in violence comes in addition to the common pressure that Lao believers experience. At the local level, Communist authorities heavily monitor religious activities in some parts of the country. In these areas, church leaders reported cases of local authorities closing down house churches. These gatherings must operate under the radar; technically, they are illegal. But even among registered churches, the threats are real. They are monitored, and it's estimated that 75% of all registered Lao Evangelical church congregations must worship in homes, which authorities consider illegal since worship gatherings are only allowed in approved religious buildings.
Converts to Christianity from Buddhism carry additional vulnerabilities. Because they are seen as traitors to their communities who have angered the spirits, they can face pressure and violence from their families and local authorities. Sometimes converts are expelled from their homes and villages.
“When I hear of someone being persecuted, I go to them right away because I don’t want them to give up their faith in God.”maixay, a believer in Laos
What’s life like for Christians in Laos?
Maixay* became a Christian after hearing about Jesus from people in this community, and after going to a series of discipleship trainings. But after years of following Jesus, his faith was severely tested when his four-year-old son died from an illness.
“I questioned God, I was angry at Him,” remembers Maixay. “I didn’t understand why He let that happen. I was so discouraged, and disappointed, and I was mad at God.” When Maixay wouldn’t come to church, people at his church were quick to visit and comfort him. But he hardened his heart, and he rejected any words of encouragement.
His friends didn’t give up on him – and neither did God. “It took me two years to get over my anger with the Lord,” says Maixay. “The faithful prayers and presence of my church leaders worked their way to my heart. They never stopped caring for me or encouraging me. I decided to recommit my life to the Lord.”
Maixay’s tragic experience gave him a greater heart for those suffer – particularly those who suffer for following Jesus. “A thought, a question, an epiphany flashed before me: What about the new converts who are persecuted – who are beaten, whose houses are burned down and threatened if they refuse to renounce their faith? If we don’t visit and give them encouragement, how will they stand strong in their faith? I want to be there for these believers.”
Since then, a new journey has started for Maixay. “When I hear of someone being persecuted, I go to them right away because I don’t want them to give up their faith in God,” he says. “I am afraid that they will forsake God, which will be very discouraging. I extend them practical help as much as I can – clothes, temporary shelter, or food. I ask what their needs are, whether practical, moral or spiritual and I discuss this with my church and with same-hearted people just like Open Doors to help these believers and deliver their needs. My heart goes out to our friends, to persecuted believers.
Maixay now runs persecution survival training for Laos believers – and has already run sessions for almost 200 people. “I am thankful to the Lord that He continues to use me, an ordinary man, to reach out to the oppressed. I also want to thank your ministry and your team for supporting me, and for supporting the persecuted believers in our area. Please pray for every believer in my region who is threatened to abandon their faith, or is abused, imprisoned, or displaced because of Jesus. Pray for courage and the determination to fight for what they believe in.”
*Name changed for security reasons
Is it getting harder to be a Christian in Laos?
Yes – Laos has risen ten places on the World Watch List this year. This is largely due to a sharp rise in violence. After many years without any Christians being killed for their faith, four were killed during the period analysed for the World Watch List 2024. This has had a chilling effect on the wider church (for example, pastors deciding not to travel alone for ministry engagements, but in pairs), which in turn increased the pressure faced by believers in all spheres of life.
How can I help Christians in Laos?
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Laos. Your prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors’ local partners strengthen persecuted believers in Laos by providing Christian materials, leadership and discipleship training, socio-economic development programmes, advocacy support and emergency relief.
Dear God, we are heartbroken by the amount of violence our brothers and sisters in Laos have endured this year. We mourn with all of those who have lost a loved one or endured the hatred of a community, or seen a loved one put in jail just because they follow Jesus. We ask that You would be with Your people and comfort them. We ask that You would bring peace and help Your people. Amen.