Introduction / History
The Samtao are thought to be from the Wa tribe. The Samtao converted to Theravada Buddhism from animism. After generations of separation from the Wa animist, the Samtao came with their own language and culture. The Samtao language is related to other Mon-Khmer languages (De'ang, Wa, and Bulang). Over 2,000 Samtao live in Laos.
Where are they located?
The Samtao live in China, Laos, and Myanmar. The Samtao of Laos live in the northeast part of the country.
What are their lives like?
The Samtao families may be monogamous or polygamous. To become a polygamous family, the husband must first receive permission from the village leader. In some Samtao families infant marriage is arranged. The Samtao grow crops such as tea, maize, rice, cotton, and sugarcane. The Samatao men often tattoo their limbs and torsos with passages from the Buddhist scriptures.
What are their beliefs?
Samtao practice Theravada Buddhism. It was introduced to their culture 900 years ago. The Samtao practice Buddhism mixed with animism. They revere the spirits of the forest, village, and house and they observe animal rituals. For instance when a Samtao man dies his family calls a chicken to call back the person's soul. The person is then redressed and positioned between two white sheets.
What are their needs?
There are no known Samtao Christians in Laos. There is a great need for the gospel to be lived and preached among these people.
Pray that even now the Spirit would work in Samtao hearts.
Pray that God would raise up missionaries from neighboring tribes to go to the Samtao.
Pray that the Gospel would reach the Samtao and that it would be received.
Pray that a Samtao church would be birthed.
Text source: Rachel Routt