Introduction / History
Centuries ago, the Lao lived in China. However, relentless pressure by the Chinese gradually forced them southward, and many settled along the Mekong River in the eighth or ninth century where they eventually formed their own kingdom. During the colonial era, the French held much power of the Lao Kingdom. When the Lao Kingdom was replaced by a Communist administration soon after World War II. For years, Laos was a battle field for power conflicts between other nations such as the US, Russia, China, and Vietnam. Many Lao fled to find a safe home. One of these safe places was New Zealand.
Where are they located?
Most of the Lao in New Zealand live in the Wellington region.
What are their lives like?
The Lao people in New Zealand still have the chance to practice Buddhism. They have their own Buddhist wat, which is both a monastery and a temple. They also promote Lao culture there.
What are their beliefs?
More than half of the Lao are Buddhists. Traditionally, young men enter village monasteries for about three months to study Buddhism. The Lao Buddhists believe that right thinking, ritual sacrifices, and self-denial will enable the soul to reach nirvana (a state of eternal bliss) at death. They live in fear of their gods and constantly strive to appease them with religious chants, rituals, and sacrifices. They also believe that existence is a continuing cycle of death and rebirth, a process known as reincarnation.
One third of the Lao are ethnic religionists, combining folk animism (belief that non-living objects have spirits) with Buddhism. They seek help through various supernatural beings and objects. Territorial deities are very important to them, because they believe these hold power in their daily lives.
What are their needs?
The Lao have been greatly affected by the fighting and bloodshed of the past. They are in desperate need of inner healing and true spiritual hope. Those who have migrated to New Zealand have the opportunity to find physical peace and spiritual peace. The blood of Jesus Christ has the power to break through the barriers that are keeping them bound, and there are plenty of Bible believing people in New Zealand who can tell them.
* Ask God to lead Christian counselors to reach out to this people group. The Lao in New Zealand Lao need to know that Jesus Christ can provide the emotional healing they seek.
* Pray that the Lord will give mission agencies new strategies for effectively evangelizing the Lao diaspora.
* 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 believers so that they will be receptive to the gospel.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among Lao Buddhists that will honor His Name in word and deed.
Text source: Keith Carey