It was near sundown when we reached the dusty Laotian village, two vanloads of wide-eyed American visitors.
The decision to bring us here was, to me, a cost-benefit conundrum. Laotian Christians are often persecuted for their faith, and it's hard to bring Americans into the rural rice fields of Laos without drawing attention from the police or Communist leaders. At more than six feet tall I towered over the Laotians and my white skin was like a beacon. My sunglasses alone cost more than these people make in a month.
Multiply me by 15 and there was our group. No doubt, we were high profile. So I wondered if this trip was worth the risk to the Laotian Christians. Aren't we going to endanger these people?
Life for the Laotians
Most Laotians believe in a mix of Buddhism, animism and ancestor worship—they bow to idols and consult witch doctors. It's a Communist country that pays lip service to the religious freedom we enjoy in the United States.
By the time we reached this particular village ...1