Praise God for rapid church growth, even under government restrictions and persecution! Indigenous Laotians lead almost all churches and evangelism efforts. The government recognizes 2 Protestant groups. The largest is the Lao Evangelical Church, where most of the Christian growth occurs. Growth also happens through “underground” house groups. Over 90% of all trained leaders left Laos in 1975, and most congregations lack a trained pastor. Pray urgently for leaders both in the recognized churches and in the house church networks. Pray that new believers will grow strong in faith, and not fall away. The Church suffers through persecution, but recognizes that it drives them to prayer and total dependence on God.
Much of Laos remains unevangelized. The remarkable growth of the church is still dwarfed by the size of the task remaining. Most peoples remain unreached, and the gospel has not easily crossed ethnic barriers. Buddhism and tribal religions are often blended together and prevail throughout; compare 5,000 temples to the 250 church buildings. Pray for the gospel light to shine throughout Laos and to draw many to Christ.
There are many needs that Christian workers could help address, but missionaries are forbidden. Some believers are serving the nation through aid and development, bomb removal (dropped by the USA during the Vietnam War), business training and English teaching. Asian believers (from neighbouring China and Thailand as well as the Philippines and South Korea) have a major role to play. Pray that the foreign workers and churches would serve the Laotian people in the best possible way.
Unreached peoples. The sheer ethnic diversity is one of the greatest barriers to effective evangelization of the whole country. Pray for:
- The Lao. The nation's dominant people are described as gentle and peace loving. But anti-Christian bias in government and society, strong family pressure to conform and the passive nature of Lao culture are major obstacles to faith. There has been major growth among the Lao (>40,000 Christians), and they are key in bringing the gospel to the rest of Laos.
- The Tai tribes, speaking 15 languages. They are mostly unevangelized and have almost no resources in their dialects; but their close affinity to the Lao, linguistically and ethnically, affords them some opportunities to discover the good news.
- The mountain-dwelling Hmong are known for having resisted, sometimes violently, communism and government control. Most Hmong Christians fled Laos in 1975. Although the proportion of Christians is lower among them, the Hmong are the most responsive peoples in the country and significant numbers are coming to faith.
- The northern peoples. Many have responded to the gospel in China and Thailand. Political conditions have never allowed missionary work; pray that this will change.
- The many small southern tribes received the gospel for the first time between 1957 and 1963, but war prevented the planting of churches among most of them. They are deeply enmeshed in the fear of spirits; pray that they find freedom through Jesus.
Media ministries are very fruitful, including literature, cassettes, radio and resources on video, CD and DVD. The government's obstruction of both importing and producing materials nationally is a great need for prayer. Pray also for indigenous artists to write and perform Christian songs, and to develop effective evangelism and discipleship tools using stories, drama, music and other creative expressions of truth.
Bible translation. The local linguistic situation is highly complex. Several groups are looking into ways to address this challenge. There are 31 languages with a definite need for translation teams and possibly a further 26 languages will need them. Praise God that the Mien Bible has now been printed. Pray for the effective use of all available tools in speeding up the process of making God's Word available.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.