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A church leader and four other Christians in a village located within Savannakhet Province have been charged by authorities with murder after praying for a sick woman who later died. The deceased, who has only been identified by her surname, "Chan," had been ill for two years with an unknown condition. Various kinds of healers and doctors in her village of Saisomboon had treated her without success. However, when a church leader named Kaithong prayed for her, she became well for a short time. Chan and her eight grown children converted to Christianity in April. However, she suddenly passed away on June 21st, after which time her family began making arrangements for a Christian funeral.

Although the village chief originally granted permission for the funeral, on June 22nd, the chief and local police ordered the Christians to stop the funeral proceedings. Chan's children were also pressured to sign an affidavit recanting their faith. These new young believers refused, insisting that their mother be buried with a Christian funeral ceremony.

The following day, Kaithong appealed the case with the chief of Atsaphangthong district. However, the next afternoon, the police arrived at Chan's home, where grieving family and friends had been gathering, and arrested Kaithong. Four other Christians -- Puphet, Muk, Hasadee and Tiang -- were also apprehended. The village chief then arranged for some monks to conduct a Buddhist ceremony and burial.

The village chief and police also reportedly forced one of Chan's daughters to sign a statement claiming that Kaithong had given Chan medication, which they allege is the cause of her death. All five detainees have now been implicated in what the accusers say is murder; although, at last report, it is unclear whether or not they have been formally charged.

Please bring this heartbreaking case to the Lord, asking Him to intervene for these brothers and sisters in Christ who were wrongfully arrested and charged while grieving the sudden loss of their dear loved one. May the truth soon be revealed so that these believers can be released from detention and returned to their families. Also remember in prayer all those who are mourning the death of Chan. May they find comfort in knowing that she is now experiencing life to the fullest in heaven. Pray that her children will have the strength and determination to continue following Jesus and resist the pressure to recant. Finally, please also intercede on behalf of the authorities involved in this case, praying that they instead seek justice and truth for these falsely accused Christians.

Please visit the Laos Country Report to learn more about the persecuted church in Laos.