Tuesday, September 18, 2012

His toughest years were when there was no Bible

He was locked in a cell by himself for a year, without a Bible. Bounchan asked the guard who brought his food to send a message to his wife. "Tell my wife, 'Would you please help me? Bring me a Bible. I cannot live without the Bible."' But a Bible was forbidden in Laos.

After a year in solitary confinement, Bounchan was put to work carrying firewood and clearing rice fields. Eventually, the guards trusted Bounchan enough to let him gather firewood alone. In July or August 2007, they allowed him two or three hours to gather wood because a nearby stream was flooding. "I knew the routine," he said. "On the first day, I collected enough firewood for two days. On the second day, I swam through the flooded stream, ran to my house, took five Bibles and ran back. I hid the Bibles, then carried the firewood back to the camp."

He also smuggled in small radios wrapped in large leaves when he brought back firewood. "I read my Bible every day," he said. "I also listened to a Christian program on the radio."

The Bible and radio helped him grow in faith. One day, the guards discovered his Bible and radio and confiscated them, but Bounchan simply smuggled more into his cell. During his 13 years in prison, Bounchan owned six Bibles. His toughest years were those when he didn't have a Bible.

In January 2012, the chief of the prison told him, "Your family is so strong in their faith that Christianity has spread everywhere. That is why you remain here. We will not let you out because your family still spreads the gospel. If you want to be released, go back home, drink and play and join the [communist] party like us. Don't live like you have; stop believing in your faith or you will remain poor."

Bounchan replied, "If you stop worshiping the cement idol, if you stop worshiping the gold or bronze idol, then I will stop worshiping my God. You won't stop. Why do you force me to stop?"
Bounchan was released one month later, on Feb. 2, 2012, two years before his sentence was complete. He said, "Thank you to my brothers and sisters in America, Canada and many other countries for your faithful prayer. I know that I am still alive today because of your faithful prayer. I am now sharing my testimony because of your powerful prayer."

(from Voice of the Martyrs newsletter, August 2012, also see Bounchan: Imprisoned for Christ)

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