The suffering Church has recognized that persecution is one factor in its growth – persecution keeps them praying and relying on God. The situation has improved very slightly; but at the local and village levels, Christians still find themselves to be targets. Persistent social pressure and the prevention of building new church buildings are two primary opposition strategies. Persecution takes personal forms as well, with strong spiritual opposition compounding family and social pressures to continue practicing traditions. Pray for:
a) Perseverance and grace for those who must endure, especially those singled out by persecutors. Property has been seized, and ministers arrested and even killed.
b) Increased openness to evangelism, church planting and building – not illegal, yet still obstructed by the government. Much growth, by necessity, takes place “underground” in house groups, since the more formal congregations are watched and must be cautious. Pray for continued boldness to share the gospel.
c) Discipleship, teaching and biblical literacy for all who respond to Christ. Pray that believers will grow strong in faith and not fall away. Pray also that they become salt and light in their own society, and in a way that is truly Lao.
d) A cross-cultural missions vision in the church to reach the many ethnic minorities.
The Lao Evangelical Church is one of two recognized Protestant bodies (along with the SDA) wherein several groups have been forced by the government to amalgamate. It is the largest and most influential Church, and where most of the Christian growth has occurred. Pray for the LEC, in particular the pastors, that they might demonstrate unity, genuine love and humility; pray for wisdom to handle the growth and to deal with the situations in both established congregations and house churches. As the primary state-approved Christian body, the LEC itself struggles with issues of accountability, transparency in finances, and healthy relationships with smaller and newer denominations. Pray that God might expose any wrongdoing among church leaders and raise up faithful, humble and authentic servant leaders in the LEC.