Introduction / History Approximately 500 Arem people live in the Bouarapha District of Khammouan Province in eastern Laos. They live in an extremely remote area directly along the Laos-Vietnam border. One source places their location at "both sides of the Vietnam-Laos border, west of Phuc Trac."
In Vietnam, the Arem are part of the official Chut minority group. The Chut, who are a collection of between four and seven different tribes, are known as the most underdeveloped and primitive people in the country. In addition to the Arem, the other Chut tribes in Laos are May, Ruc and Sach.
The Arem have their own distinct language, which is part of the Viet-Muong branch of the Mon-Khmer language family. The use of Arem is dwindling, however, and today there are only about 20 elderly people left who are able to speak it fluently. The Arem language has been replaced by a more general Chut language, which serves as the lingua franca (common speech) among the different Chut groups.
The name Chut is a generic term which simply means 'mountain' or 'rocky-cliff'. Each group lives in a separate area defined by agreed-upon markers such as trees, rivers and streams. The members of one tribe are careful not to encroach onto the territory of their neighbors for fear of provoking war.
The name Arem means 'cave dwellers'. Only recently did the Arem in Vietnam start to live in houses. In the past they preferred to move around deep within the forests, dwelling in caves, trees, or temporary shacks. The Ruc and Arem were the last groups to start building houses in the 1960s.
According to a Vietnamese government report on the Chut, however, they may be heading back to their former lifestyles: "Their population numbers are falling alarmingly, and their agriculture is on the point of disappearing. Certain members of their group are returning to live in caves. Their misery is at such a point that often a young man has nothing but a blunt knife to offer his in-law's family at his wedding."
The Arem and the other Chut tribes, have absolutely no awareness of the Gospel in either Laos or Vietnam. They remain completely unreached.
Prayer Points * Pray the primitive Arem would soon have access to the Gospel, and would be open to knowing Jesus Christ.
* Ask God to send workers to the Arem.
* Pray the Arem would be reached in a powerful manner so that people would know only God could do such a work.