Laos is a country that has undergone much change, and in recent years has developed close ties with the United Methodist Church.
After the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 70s, Laos, the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia, isolated itself from the rest of the world. Laos especially became isolated from the West, which had limited resources and outside help to offer the struggling country. A consequence of that action (or inaction as it might be) was that Laos fell into more serve poverty than it had been before. After 1990, Laos experienced some change and slowly opened its door to the free world to accept more help. Yet even today, especially in the rural areas, people still have no access to jobs, education, healthcare, justice, equal opportunities, and religious freedom.
In the year 2000, the United Methodist Church began to reach out to the people of Laos when the General Board of Global Ministries sent the first mission team to explore the country. As a new, minority religion, United Methodism is technically illegal, and only permitted to exist at the discretion of public officials. In some villages, the Church is more accepted than others, depending on the relationship with local authorities. The identity of long-term missionaries is kept secret, and they settle in the country as teachers rather than pastors.
On February 2nd, 2001, the Board held the first meeting in Laos, with three couples. A decade of mission work has led to the creation many churches and faith communities. and 67 pastors. Worshipers sometimes also gather in sunlit homes where they study scriptures, pray, and sing. Held back by formal restrictions, previously established religions, and the difficulty of travel, Laotian United Methodists labor with patience. Congregations grow as friends and family members come around, one to two at a time. The long term vision is to reach out into communities by offering vocational training, creating educational opportunities, empowering women, and strengthening the economy.
Lao Bibles, Lao hymnals and tuition for Phayao Seminary students are urgent needs. New church leaders with basic and advanced training are also needed in order to meet the demand of increasing congregations. In addition to leadership training, money is also needed for new church buildings, pastor's support, church development, evangelization, women awareness, children scholarship, seniors and youth ministries, and agriculture development.
God is on the move in Laos, would you like to be on board?
Laos Mission Contact Information
Association of HUMC Chair
3015 W. Mitchell Street
Milwaukee, WI 53215
5226 Wright Ave.
Racine, WI 53406