A pastor who had converted from animism and resisted pressure from villagers and authorities to deny Christ was murdered in October.
His Bible was found near his body.
Christian leaders and police in central Laos believe Pastor Seetoud was killed for spreading the gospel during rapid church expansion in the nation.
The pastor planned to meet with Christians on October 20 about 100 kilometers from his home. After he failed to arrive and a search party did not find him, an area resident found Pastor Seetoud’s body in a ditch near the village.
Pastor Seetoud’s body was mutilated and exhibited indications of torture.
Married with eight children, Pastor Seetoud led a congregation of the Lao Evangelical Church (LEC), one of three officially recognized denominations in Laos.
Shortly before his murder, relatives, neighbors, and village authorities threatened Pastor Seetoud if he continued to share his Christian faith. His trips were also monitored.
After leaving animistic beliefs in 2015, Pastor Seetoud, his family, and other Christians were denied access to drinking water and other basic rights.
Authorities attempted to compel him to sign an affidavit recanting his faith. They opposed church growth and believed that the “foreign religion of Jesus” would disturb the local worship of spirits and idols.
About 60 percent of Laos’ population is Buddhist and 32 percent is animist.
In 2018, local police detained Pastor Seetoud in the village school for three days for hosting a church service in his home. Though the house church had been operating for more than three years, he was charged with having an “illegal gathering.”
Persecution of Christians in Laos has grown since 2020, especially in the southern region of the country.
In February 2021, Cha Xiong, an ethnic Hmong Christian community leader, was shot and killed.
A month later, Pastor Sithon Thippavong, a Lao leader in Savannakhet, was arrested for refusing to sign a document renouncing his Christian faith and was imprisoned for a year on charges of “disrupting unity” and “creating disorder.”
In October 2020, authorities expelled seven Christians and destroyed their homes because they refused to renounce their faith.
In 2018, four Lao Christians and three Christian leaders were detained for seven days for celebrating Christmas “without permission.”
Despite COVID lockdowns in 2021, ministry leaders in Khammouane Province baptized thousands of people and planted more than 60 churches.
In 2019, the Laotian government issued a decree on religious freedom, but it is largely ignored in rural areas where persecution is common.
- Pastor Seetoud’s family and congregation to be comforted as they grieve
- Christians in Laos to live without fear in the face of persecution
- The country of Laos continues to experience rapid church growth despite violent opposition
Source: Morning Star News, November 14, 2022