Bounchan Kanthavong, a pastor in Laos, was released from prison on February 2 after being locked up for nearly 13 years because of his Christian activities, Barnabas Fund reports.
2/29/2012 Laos (Barnabas Fund) – A pastor has been released from prison in Laos after being locked up for nearly 13 years because of his Christian activities.
Bounchan Kanthavong was set free on 2 February, having been arrested in June 1999 and then sentenced to twelve years in jail for treason and sedition.
His only “crimes” appear to have been receiving Bible training and sharing his faith with people who came into his clothing shop. Bounchan’s witness led to around 70 people accepting Christ.
He had been introduced to Christianity in January 1997 when he spent the night with a Christian family while away on business. When he returned to his home in Vanghai village, Udomsai province, Bounchan began to spread his new faith. People came to his shop from other villages, keen to hear and embrace the Gospel.
The Lao authorities repeatedly warned him to stop believing, practising and spreading the Christian faith and ordered him to cease all worship activities at the shop.
They were concerned about people leaving the traditional Lao religion (spirit worship) and embracing what they consider a foreign religion, thus becoming loyal to a power other than the Lao authorities. Bounchan’s actions were thus perceived as a threat to national security and interpreted as treason and sedition.