Savang* is a believer from northern Laos, a former shaman now a pastor.
Savang lives in an animist village, promoted by the Lao government as a tourist destination, known for its export quality green tea, bamboo paper and shamanistic rituals. If you were to visit his village, you would never guess that behind the museum that exhibits the tribe’s homage to ghosts, spirits, and shamanistic ceremonies, there is a church with almost a hundred members. This is the church that Savang has been pastoring for many years now.
LIFE AS A SHAMAN
But Savang wasn’t always a follower of Jesus. He was one of the shamans respected by his community for his ability to call on the spirits and bring miracles and luck.
Savang* was born into a poor family and looked down on by the whole community. The easiest way to gain his community’s respect was through shamanism and witchcraft. Starting at an early age, he memorized incantations that would summon the spirits. Supposedly, the spirits would bring healing to the sick and luck to people. But the spirits he revered would also be the reason for the emptiness he later had to face.
At 18, at the peak of his dreamed vocation, Savang got married and started to learn witchcraft. But problems with his marriage began to arise.
In the midst of his troubles, he thought about turning to the one Great Spirit his friend from school had told him about when he was 13.
A LIFE IN CHRIST
Eventually, he questioned the greatness of the spirits he had worshipped and sought the Great Spirit he had once heard of. After he accepted Jesus, he found true healing and peace. But abandoning his old belief and following Christ did not come without a price.
He led many from his community to faith, and started a church in his house. But this has led to harassment and threats from the authorities – he was even imprisoned in horrific conditions for several months.
Savang is out of prison now, and his church is thriving. Your support and prayers have enabled him to attend Standing Strong Through the Storm training, and a gathering for church leaders who have faced persecution. Open Doors local partners are also planning to begin a literacy program with his church once the covid-19 lockdowns are lifted and people are able to travel and meet in groups again. He has big dreams for Laos, and hopes to see churches planted across his region and many more people coming to faith in Jesus.
PRAY FOR HIS MINISTRY
But the authorities continue to watch Savang, and he still needs our prayers and encouragement. He says, “When you follow Christ there is no guarantee that persecution will not follow. That’s why we need more of your encouragement, and I thank you for already doing so.
“I want to especially ask for your prayers for our town that whoever resides here and whoever comes to this province will also come to know Jesus and follow Him.
“Pray for my ministry for the tribal people. I have a vision to reach out people in my tribe and I need partners who are willing to serve the tribes in remote areas.
“And pray for my tribe that when they understand the gospel, they will continue to seek the truth and know the real God so that they will not keep on going back to animism.”
Savang praises God for continually protecting his family and church from coronavirus. Although the pandemic has postponed some of his church’s activities, he knows that God is in control of everything.
*Name changed for security reasons