Seven Christian leaders arrested during a church service last December in Boukham village in Laos were unconditionally released on January 12. The village chief had ordered authorities to raid the Christmas service on December 16, 2011, even though freedom of religion is guaranteed in the Lao constitution (for more information on the raid, click here).
The seven leaders were held without being charged until December 30. Since authorities were unable to charge the pastors with violating a religion law, they eventually charged them with violating the village's "hiit," the traditional spirit cult. The Christians were fined the equivalent of 35 times the average monthly wage. International human rights organizations had exerted pressure on authorities to release the imprisoned Christians, and the families of those arrested filed complaints against the village authorities shortly before they were released.
Praise God for the release of these bold followers and thank Him for their safety while in custody. Please pray that these believers will not be subjected to any further persecution. Pray that their steadfastness would strengthen the faith of other Christians in Laos.
For more on the trials Christians face in Laos, go to the Laos Country Report.