Stephen* lived in a small mountain village in Laos. Growing up, he knew no other belief but Buddhism, which watchful authorities would ensure was followed at all times. It wasn’t until he was well into adulthood that Stephen discovered Jesus through a Christian radio station.
“I wanted to convert,” Stephen said. “Then I met a man who invited me to his house and gave me a book: the Bible. I read it and understood it. Then I accepted Jesus into my life. I then began to lead a small group, and we started to gather and worship God.”
Soon, Stephen’s small group was discovered and his cousin, the village chief, confronted him.
“He got so angry at me and punched me many times on my head until I fell on the ground,” Stephen remembered.
After the brutal beating, Stephen’s cousin gave him an ultimatum: abandon his faith or be cast out.
Stephen chose to leave his home village right away, but not before his community beat him once more and set his home alight.
In his new village, it wasn’t long before Stephen’s Christian faith was discovered again.
“The village chief kept on telling me, ‘You are stupid!’ He was very mad. He said, ‘We don’t want you to convert people and tell people about your religion. Your religion is from the foreigners!’”
But Stephen refused to stop sharing the gospel and even began hosting worship gatherings.
“I am always reminded that if people try to kill me for my faith, the Bible says not to be afraid. They can kill my body but not my soul. If they want to kill me, I have no problem with it for I know where I’m going after.”
Hope That Cannot Be Shaken
Stephen’s journey has been full of suffering, isolation and violence. Following Jesus has nearly cost him everything. But, because of faithful supporters like you, he and his family have been equipped to face this persecution with courageous faith.
“There are times when I feel like the world is against me,” Stephen shared. “But God sent people. He used Open Doors.”
Stephen recently joined a church leaders gathering with other persecuted Christians and is learning how to empower the Laotian church to face the future.
His wife has also received literacy training and now teaches believers in their new village.
Even during the pandemic, Stephen’s family have continued to house believers who have been ostracised. And although COVID-19 is making everyday life increasingly difficult, Stephen trusts that God will provide, just as He did before.