Happily Going Down the “Wrong Road”

Happily Going Down the “Wrong Road”

When Duang Ma Nee came to know Christ at age 23, his life was a mess. “I was drinking a lot and got drunk many times,” he said. “I was always flirting around with women.” 

Duang on the bike1

But several of his relatives had placed their faith in Christ, and Duang noticed that their lives had changed for the better. So when his brother-in-law shared the gospel with him in 2004, Duang placed his faith in Christ. 

After becoming a Christian, Duang, who taught school in a Laotian city, stopped getting drunk with members of the board of education. And when board members learned that he had joined a local church, some of them confronted him about his changed behavior. 

“They called me to the office,” Duang said. “They asked me to stop my faith. They told me I was going on the wrong road.” 

The board threatened to relocate Duang to a school in a poor, rural part of the school district if he continued following Jesus. But Duang refused to leave Christ, so he signed papers acknowledging that it was his decision to be transferred. 

A New Way of Life

The rough path to his new home and workplace in the rural village required navigating ditches and mud puddles, and getting there took all day. Then, when he arrived, he learned that the village didn’t even have electricity. 

At first the villagers welcomed Duang, and a village leader offered him a place to stay until he could find a place of his own. When the leader learned that Duang was a Christian, however, he forced him to move to the student dormitory. 

Duang felt abandoned and isolated from his brothers and sisters in Christ in his distant home city, but he didn’t despair. “I did not stop evangelizing,” he said. “I talked with many villagers about Jesus. I felt that God had a plan for me to talk about Him in this area.” Unlike his former neighbors, most of whom worshiped ancestral spirits, the people in Duang’s new village were predominantly Buddhists. 

One day, the opportunity arose for Duang to share Christ with some fifth- grade students. Although he knew he could lose his job for it, he felt that God had moved him to the village to reach people with the gospel. So he decided to be faithful. 

Whatever happens with my job or my life, I will give it to the Lord,” he thought. “If it is the Lord’s plan for me, then it’s up to Him. I just must keep my faith attached to Him.” 

After sharing the gospel with the students, seven of them chose to follow Jesus. But Duang was crushed when, about a month later, the children’s parents forced them to leave their new faith. 

small village1
After Duang became a Christian, his supervisors exiled him to teach in a small rural village like this one. He later planted a church there.

Planting a Church

As Duang continued to build relationships with his students and other villagers over the next two years, some of them gradually began responding to the gospel. In one case, a man seeking help for his severely ill wife agreed to let Duang pray for her. And when the woman recovered from her illness, the family placed their faith in Christ. In another case, a man who had been hospitalized several times for stomach ulcers asked Duang to pray for him. When he experienced healing days later, he, too, came to faith in Christ. 

Duang soon began to host gatherings in his dormitory room every Thursday, and on Sundays he led an improvised worship service. “I did not know how to conduct a real worship service,” he admitted. 

Eventually, though, some disapproving neighbors noticed Duang’s Christian activities and complained to village leaders. “They told me to stop my faith,” he said. “They kept telling me, ‘This religion belongs to foreigners. This religion is a disease that is harmful to you.’ “I told them, ‘I do not know what to do because I love Jesus and cannot renounce my faith.’” 

One day while Duang was away in the city, the school district’s dean of academics visited the village and met with village leaders about Duang’s evangelism. When Duang returned home, a village leader informed him that he could no longer evangelize others in the village or conduct worship services in his home. 

“I did not listen to them about the evangelism part,” Duang said, laughing. 

The Lessons of Persecution

Duang has led three more people to Christ since the village leaders ordered him to stop evangelizing and to leave his faith. And, acknowledging that persecution is an expected part of following Jesus, he said he forgives those who have persecuted him. 

“I feel sorry for them because they do not understand about God,” he said. “I will tell them I forgive them if they come and talk to me again. If they come to Christ, it is even better.” 

Each time Duang experiences persecution, he gathers for prayer with other believers. He also reads his Bible and fasts. “The persecution has made me stronger,” he said. “It draws me closer to God through prayer, reading the Bible more and in quiet time with Him. In my heart, it makes me love the Lord even more.” 

During pandemic restrictions in his village, Duang used YouTube videos to share the gospel with other villagers. He also distributed gospel tracts that he acquired through VOM-supported evangelism seminars. For Duang, the global pandemic created a heightened sense of urgency to share the gospel. And despite ongoing threats and persecution, he said he has never thought about stopping his ministry. 

“I want more brothers and sisters in Christ on this earth,” he said. “My heart wants this.” 

Duang requests prayer for his job and for continued strong faith in the face of persecution. For now, he will continue to teach school and share the gospel at every opportunity, knowing that his faith in Christ could cost him his job at any time. 

“If it is the Lord’s plan for me to have my teaching job taken away,” he said, “I will go into full-time ministry and serve the Lord.”