In addition to receiving email updates and monthly newsletters from Voice of the Martyrs and International Christian Concern, I also recently started following VOM’s podcast which provides updates on various persecuted Christians around the world and sermons from pastors who are actively involved in serving the persecuted Church.
Saturday, I listened to one detailing the experience of a 17-year-old girl in Laos named Phum. She secretly attended church at the invitation of her friend and there received Christ as he savior. Phum continued to attend weekly until her family discovered her frequent disappearances and questioned her. Phum bravely said that she had become a Christian, and has since suffered for it.
Phum’s family started discouraging her attendance by giving her chores on Sundays, then by trapping her in the house, then by beating her. Her brother is involved in the national political party. Laos is a socialist state wherein only one political party may legally hold power. Although the Laotian government claims to seek an end to such human rights violations, the court system remains corrupt with pro forma trials and illegal torture tactics, including rape by soldiers.
Laos is also saturated with worship of false gods. Animism is the primary religious practice, followed by Bhuddhism, and minority religions in the country include Islam, Confucianism, and Bahai. Two percent or fewer claim Christianity.
. . .
I remember being 17. It really wasn’t that long ago, even though it seems like it was. For me, defending my faith in Christ meant reading my Bible before class or audibly correcting the humanities textbook on its errors regarding Christianity. It meant not swearing when everyone else did and giving friends and acquaintainces Biblical advice (to the best of my understanding) when they came to me with classic high school drama. It meant showing up an hour before school to go to FCA meetings, and saying “no thanks” to party invitations where I knew there would be alcohol and sexual music.
It didn’t mean sneaking off to church because my family would beat me for loving Jesus. It didn’t mean watching helplessly as my Bible and hymnal were burned. It didn’t mean being isolated from my only Christian friend and locked inside my house.
But that IS what being a Christian means to Phum. Many persecuted Christians at least have the solace that they are being persecuted together. Phum, still early in her faith, is being isolated from any connection she has to Christ. Could you or I have held onto our faith under those circumstances? At that age?
Today I’m praying that God imprints His precious Word in the heart of His precious daughter and comes close to her in a way so intimate that she may withstand the brainwashing tactics of the enemy. I’m praying that the Lord encourages her and sends her encouragement through whomever people can reach her. And I’m praying that He changes the hearts of her family so that they can all worship the King together.
Please join me?