The Lao are also known as the Laotian Tai. They are dispersed throughout Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam. They were forced to migrate from China in the lowlands of Peninsular Asia. The Lao refuse to live in the mountains and prefer to live in the plains of Peninsular Asia. Many of the Lao live as rice farmers, fishermen, blacksmiths, carpenters, and miners. The Lao are predominantly Buddhist. The Buddhist Wat, or temple, is the focal point of each village. Monks in the Buddhist temples have the final authority on spiritual issues while the village chief only governs secular matters. Young men usually leave their village for three months to live in a monastery and study Buddhism. They believe that if they practice right thinking, ritual sacrifice and self-denial they will reach enlightenment or nirvana. Many of the Lao believe that spirits are territorial and they seek to please the gods with religious chanting, rituals, and sacrifice.
Engagement // What’s Happening Now
Christianity in Peninsular Asia has grown over the years but there is still much work to do. Compassion ministries have been able to open doors for global workers to bring the good news of the Gospel to the Lao. Asia’s Little One’s has been able to minister to children like Singh* who lived in a village where medical help was not available. Singh was very ill but recovered miraculously when global workers heard of his sickness and were able to provide emergency aid. A global worker states. “That event has given us several additional opportunities for both his family and his entire village to see the love of Jesus in action. This little one will now live to hear about the saving grace of Calvary.”
Sustainability // The Bigger Story
The strongholds of communism, Buddhism, and ethnic religions have been barriers to reaching the Lao. One positive result of these barriers is that the work of planting churches falls under the purview of Laotian leaders. The home-village churches that Laotian Jesus-followers plant and lead are spreading. Meanwhile, missionaries partner with local leaders to strengthen and equip them to reach the lost in their context.
“Over the last twenty years we have seen significant growth in the church both numerically and in maturity. We are seeing a new generation of young leaders that the Lord is calling who are dedicated to reaching their people with the gospel. In the mountains the church is moving cautiously but persistently as the gospel continues to spread to new villages”, says a global worker serving the Lao people.
Partnership // Move Beyond
Please spend a few moments in prayer for the following:
- Ask God to use Lao believers to share the love of Jesus with their own people.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Lao towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Lao.