Contacts of the charity Open Doors report that many people in Laos are being healed and coming faith in Christ, despite facing persecution.
Beun* became a Christian after he met Christians who cared for his dying brother. "When I heard that Jesus is the King of Kings, and when I heard that Jesus is love, I immediately decided to follow Him, even though this was the first time I had ever heard about Jesus," Beun said.
Later, when his wife became ill, he took her to meet those same Christians, who prayed for her healing. She was healed, and also decided to become a Christian.
Beun then began to pray for healing for others. One person came to him with kidney stones. Beun said, "He told me that he didn't know what to do. He asked me if Jesus could help him. I said: 'Jesus can help you, but I can't."
The man had been suffering with kidney stones for two years. He had gone through surgery without getting any better. The doctors had told him that there wasn't anything more they could do for him; the kidney stones were too big. He came to Beun as a last resort.
Beun said, "I prayed for him. During the night, at midnight, he had severe pain in his kidney. It got even worse, and he had never experienced so much pain before in his life. In a vision or a dream, he saw a man with long hair and white clothes come to him and pour water on him. The water came into his mouth, and the more water he got into his mouth the better he felt. When the vision was over, he fell asleep and slept through the rest of the night. When he woke up the next morning and went to the toilet, the kidney stones were no longer there. That day he was healed."
On another occasion, Beun prayed for a man with a brain tumour. He had suffered with pain in his head for eight years, and had visited several hospitals and doctors, but everyone told him the same thing: they couldn't help him. He had advanced cancer, and not much time left to live.
"I do not want to die, can you help me?" he asked Beun. Beun told him that there is just one person that could help him, and that he needed to accept Christ. They prayed together, and then Beun told him to go home. One week later, all the pain in the head was gone and he was healed. To this day he is a follower of Jesus, and the pain has never returned.
Beun said, "Many people in Laos have become believers because they were healed or because they have seen other people get healed. People come to me for healing or to hear more about Jesus."
However, not everyone has been happy about Beun's ministry. The government of Laos sees Christianity as a Western religion, and Christians are seen as enemies of the state. Local authorities wanted to capture Beun, so they posted photographs of him in the region and asked people to contact the police if they saw him.
Last year, Beun was sentenced to five months in prison. The prison cell was very small and 22 people, including Beun, shared a room of just four square meters. "At night time, we all had to lie down on the same side and when one moves, he needed to tell the other 21 to move, so that we could fit," Beun said.
His neighbours have also been unhappy about Beun sharing his faith with others. Beun's animals were attacked. "Someone poisoned my chickens. They all died. A week later someone shot my buffalo."
Thanks to the support of Open Doors, he has been able to build a new home further from the village, with a separate building for growing mushrooms, so that they are out of the reach of the villagers who killed his animals. "I want to say thanks to all our brothers and sisters in Christ who have listen to my story. God bless you," he said.
Beun has not been discouraged in his ministry because of his imprisonment or his treatment by his neighbours. Along with several other pastors and leaders in the area, Beun and other Christians travel to distribute Bibles, teach and hold worship meetings in other villages.
His new house is also going to be used to train others. "We are going to teach young pastors to grow mushrooms, while at the same time they receive training in the Word of God. Then they can become self-sufficient while sharing Christ with others," he says.
Laos is number 24 on the Open Doors 2017 World Watch List, the annual ranking of the countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution. Through local partners and churches, Open Doors strengthens persecuted believers in Laos through provision of Christian materials, leadership training, discipleship programmes, coming alongside the Laotian believers when they suffer physical attacks and expulsion from their families and communities, through advocacy, relief and practical aid.
*name changed for security reasons
Photo of Beun - other photos that hide his identity and larger file sizes available on request:
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Open Doors UK & Ireland is part of Open Doors International, a global NGO network which has supported and strengthened persecuted Christians in over 60 countries for over 60 years. Last year it raised approximately $70 million to provide practical support to persecuted Christians such as food, medicines, trauma care, legal assistance, safe houses and schools, as well as spiritual support through Christian literature, training and resources. Open Doors UK & Ireland raised over £11 million.
Every year Open Doors publishes the World Watch List - a ranking of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. This is produced using detailed information provided by Open Doors co-workers in more than 60 countries, as well as independent experts. Data is gathered on five spheres of life - private, family, community, national and church life - plus a sixth sphere measuring the degree of violence impacting Christians. Persecution in each country is recorded by Open Doors using a point system. Open Doors' research methods and results have been independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom. The 2017 World Watch List accounts for the 12 months ending 31 October 2016.