by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – Authorities in Laos have released a Christian pastor who was imprisoned for a year for holding church services without a permit, Mission Network News reports. Laos currently ranks 22 on the Open Doors Watch List of countries that persecute Christians.
The communist government in the Southeast Asian nation of Laos clamps down hard on Christian activity, driving believers underground to worship in illegal house churches. Pastors have reported being beaten and jailed by the authorities for having services, MNN said.
The recently freed pastor, who was not named by MNN, had received a criminal conviction and prison sentence for “creating disorder” through his services. “This particular pastor happens to be a part of a network that is actually in the sanctioned church,” Joe Handley of Asian Access told MNN.
“In Laos, there is a sanctioned, government-based church. And then there’s an underground church. Of course, the underground church is much larger, and usually is the one that gets more pressure, because they’re not endorsed by the government. It’s just a very unwieldy situation. And even the sanctioned churches get cracked down on in the country,” Handley explained.
However, church leaders also report that mistreatment of Christians by the authorities has resulted in more people coming to Christ: in asking why it is that good people are being abused, members of the community come to learn about Jesus.
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