A spy in every church
During a recent visit to East Asia, Scottish Bible Society staff witnessed first-hand the extreme persecution that many of our brothers and sisters in Christ face. It seems that hostility comes from all sides – from the government, society, and community members. And yet, in spite of the great cost, believers are persevering in their faith – and the church is growing.
Laos is a communist state with a population of 7 million – only 2% are Christians. The communist government views Christianity as a threat and treats believers as such. Christians are prevented from getting jobs in government, house churches are illegal, and the few registered churches are monitored by the state – quite literally, a spy in every church reporting back on what is being preached.
Pressure also comes from the community, with hostility shown to believers who are considered to have betrayed the only ‘acceptable’ religion and their national heritage.
During the visit to Laos, SBS staff met Pastor Silay Engsunijohn. His testimony was not only a powerful witness of God’s transformational power, but of endurance and perseverance in the face of considerable persecution.
Pastor Silay is a leader in the Laos Evangelical Church. He came to faith after a chance meeting with a missionary, but soon found himself the only Christian in the entire district. He explains, “When I accepted Jesus as my Lord, I shared my faith with others, and many came to faith. However, it was brought to the attention of the authorities and I was arrested. I was beaten often in prison.”
Pastor Silay refused to turn his back on Christ despite on-going mistreatment at the hands of the authorities. He continued to share the Gospel from the confines of the prison, and eventually, when the authorities realised he would not stop, he was released.
In the face of such persecution, believers in Laos desperately need the Word of God to strengthen their faith.
One church leader in Laos spoke about the ongoing challenges Christians in Laos face, and the need for a “deep faith that is rooted in the Word of God.” With limited income from farming or fishing, and few job opportunities due to government persecution, Christians in Laos quite simply cannot afford to buy a Bible and access the life-changing Word of God.
Your gift today will help persecuted Christians in East Asia have the joy of reading their own Bible.
In Cambodia, state persecution has thankfully reduced in recent times, yet there is still considerable pressure within communities. A predominantly Buddhist nation, just 1% of the population is Christian. Yet, the number is growing – and most new believers are young people.
Society staff met with sisters Saody (aged 26) and Sokly (aged 20) during a visit to a church in Battambang province. Saody was the first member of her family to come to faith and one of only a few believers in her community. Saody told me, “Jesus transformed me. When I read the Bible, I am strong in spirit and it reassures me about what is to come. The Bible helps me in all things.”
Despite initial objections to Saody’s decision, her sister Sokly subsequently committed her life to Christ and now their entire family are believers too. However, Saody has a desire for her fellow Cambodians to learn the truth about Jesus, saying, “We are thankful for the Bibles received so far, but the need is great. The Word of God can help so many people in our country.”
Many others staff met with spoke about the challenge of turning away from what is seen as being the national religion. One church leader explained that, “as a Buddhist nation, it is very difficult. However, when people read the Bible, they forego Buddhism as they realise that they should follow Jesus.” Cambodians desperately need the life-giving Word of God.
Nothing could be more transformative to Cambodia than to see many more people, especially the young, coming to faith in the Lord Jesus. As one church leader said, “Bible distribution means more churches as people learn the truth about Jesus.”
Please join with this ministry of growth and give your support today to provide much-needed Bibles. Christians in Laos and Cambodia face challenges that we struggle to comprehend. But you can make a real difference in the lives of many with the provision of God’s Word.