I hate my parents! The bitter words seethed deep within the heart of Duang Tawjan. How could they choose to leave Buddhism, the faith of our people, for a foreign religion?
Although a teenager, Duang had already become a devoted Buddhist monk. When his parents told him that they had converted to Christianity, he felt that he had no choice but to disown them. It wasn’t easy, however, especially in light of their efforts to maintain their relationship with him. And they were different people after their conversion. Their changed lives further fueled Duang’s doubts about Buddhism, which were already being fed by the hypocrisy he witnessed at the monastery where he lived.
One day Duang’s father gave him a Bible. Curious, he started reading it and was convicted by its truth. Jesus was no mere man. He was the Son of God. At the age of 20, Duang made Jesus his Master.
Ten years later, I met Duang in his native country of Laos in Southeast Asia. As a member of a minority tribe known as the Khmu, Duang already faces discrimination as part of a “lower class.” As a follower of Jesus, however, he suffers additional harassment. Devoted Buddhists view him as a defector of the highest magnitude. And Laos’ communist rulers consider all Christians to be part of an American conspiracy to overthrow their government. Consequently, Christians experience confiscation of property, personal attacks, fines, prison sentences, and death threats.
None of these pressures, however, have deterred Duang—a little man of great faith. His bold witness has resulted in the conversions of many, including three other Buddhist monks. God has also given him a ministry of healing.
As I sat with Duang on the floor of a home that is used as an illegal church, I could feel his excitement about serving the Lord and his people. Duang has an irresistible smile that would seem capable of softening the hardest heart. For that reason, I initially had trouble believing that he’s received death threats—until he showed me a public poster warning of his “dangerous” and illegal activities.
I heard similar stories of persecution from other Khmu Christian leaders. All of them told me that they never know when the government or their Buddhist neighbors will lash out against them, but when they do, they often find themselves in desperate need. Some of those urgent needs include food, shelter, and provisions for prisoners and their families.
Using gifts to the Persecuted Christians Fund, Heaven’s Family has partnered with Khmu Christian leaders to establish an emergency fund to meet pressing needs when Khmu believers face economic hardship because of persecution for their faith. Thanks to those gifts, many Khmu Christians will be strengthened by their brothers and sisters in Christ to endure “suffering as good soldiers of Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:3).