Believers in Asia are experiencing growing hardships as a result of government control expanding over churches and ministry leaders.
During a recent visit to one country in Southeast Asia, I had the opportunity to meet with twenty Hmong pastors from multiple villages throughout the country.
These men, some with families, travel 5-8 hours by bus or motorbike several times a year for Bible training. One of our local trainers is not only a development facilitator, but a Bible teacher, pastor, farmer, husband, father and one of the most amazing, humble men you could ever meet. We spent the day with this group of tribal pastors at his home, eating pumpkin soup and local fish.
As we ate, I had the opportunity to talk with a couple of the men about their lives.
Government Regulations Over Church
One pastor shared that he oversees a larger congregation of Hmong about six hours from the capital city. The church has been meeting for 15 years, but recently the local authorities came and told them they were not registered, so they cannot meet.
The leaders of the church spent the next three weeks talking to local authorities and trying to register, but these government officials denied their applications every time. Finally, the church leaders decided to begin meeting again anyway. We don’t know what will happen to them, but we know God is with them and for them.
Another pastor shared that the authorities came to him and demanded he renounce Christ. He objected to their demands, standing firm in his faith, so they told him to leave the village and never return. This was not a random village he had visited to share the gospel but his hometown.
We know they don’t stand alone because Jesus also comforted his followers in the Sermon on the Mount, saying, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12). Rejoice and be glad, you are not alone in your struggles.
Jesus promised that “everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29, ESV), and my friends in this persecuted country cling to this truth as their hope in the darkness.
Praying for the Church Abroad
Our local team is equipping these men and women with strong biblical foundations and the capacity to develop their families and communities in a sustainable, holistic way.
As we had opportunity to share with them that day, there was a tangible hunger for God’s plan to bring reconciliation to all things. Pray for these ambassadors, that their faith my not waiver and that they may be continue in the calling and strength of God.