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Lao in Vietnam


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Lao in Vietnam map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
18,000 Lao Buddhism 3.40 % 0.03 %   

Lao in Vietnam

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Introduction / History
The Lao are one of the many Tai-speaking peoples who have prospered in mainland Southeast Asia. Their native language, Lao, is a Lao-Phutai dialect of the Tai language family. The Lao of Laos speak only one language, whereas those in Vietnam have probably adapted to their surroundings and may be bilingual.

Centuries ago, the Lao lived in China. However, relentless pressure by the Chinese gradually forced them southward into Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. In 1954, Communist rebels emerged in North Vietnam, and military regimes formed, leading to massive bloodshed. The war finally ended in a Communist victory in 1975, when the Communist Republic of North Vietnam overtook South Vietnam. Post-war North Vietnam has gone through a period of intense reconstruction of industry, yet there has been a deterioration in the quality of output.

What are their lives like?
Most of the Lao are wet-rice farmers. Rice is produced both as a dietary staple and as a cash crop. Cultivation is done with wooden equipment drawn by buffalo, although the "slash and burn" method may also be used. Some of the Lao are also blacksmiths, carpenters, or fishermen.

The Lao avoid living in the mountains, choosing instead to dwell in the plains. Their houses are typically made of wood or bamboo and are built high on stilts. Poultry, pigs, and goats are allowed to run freely underneath the houses. Farm lands are adjacent to the villages.

The Buddhist Wat, or temple, is the center of village life. Village leadership is usually divided; the chief has authority in secular matters, while the Buddhist monk has authority in religious issues. Lao society has no rigid social class system. Instead, their social structure is based on family units, with no widespread lineages or clans. Sexual promiscuity before marriage is relatively common.

Lao culture has changed dramatically as a result of Vietnam's transition from a feudal to a socialist society. When the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was established in 1976, a program was begun to move ethnic Vietnamese from the lowlands into the mountains. In addition, the Lao farmers now belong to agricultural cooperatives, and small-scale industrialization has helped turn agricultural peasants into a Vietnamese working class. Socialism has also brought improved education and health care. A medical school and some hospitals have been built, and these have helped gain control over diseases such as smallpox, cholera, tuberculosis, and malaria.

The Lao are traditionally distinguished from the surrounding peoples by three criteria: the sticky rice they eat (steamed rather than boiled), the skirts worn by their women, and their musical instruments. A bamboo wind instrument called the khene is the most widely known instrument. They also play the khouy, which is an end-blown flute. Music is part of every festival, and it is frequently heard as people work in the fields.

What are their beliefs?
More than half of the Lao are Buddhists. They 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 ritual chants and sacrifices.

One-third of the Lao are ethnic religionists, combining folk animism (belief that non-human objects have spirits) with Buddhism. They seek help through various supernatural beings and objects. Of major importance to them are the territorial deities.

What are their needs?
The physical needs of the Lao are many. They occupy a region in which yearly monsoons destroy schools, clinics, and bridges and threaten to leave hundreds homeless. Humanitarian aid, medical facilities, and doctors are needed to work among those who have been affected by flooding. Spiritually, their needs are even greater. Many of the Lao have been affected by the fighting and bloodshed of the past. They are in desperate need of inner healing and true spiritual hope.

Prayer Points
Ask the Lord to call medical missionaries and humanitarian aid workers to go to Vietnam and share Christ with the Lao.
Pray that the Lord will give missions agencies new strategies for effectively evangelizing the Lao.
Ask God to use Lao believers to share the love of Jesus with their own people.
Ask the Holy Spirit to anoint the Gospel as it goes forth via radio in this region.
Pray that God will save key leaders among the Lao who will boldly proclaim the Gospel.
Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Lao.

View Lao in all countries.

Prayer Links
Lao profile for Children and Family Missions Activities
  Submit Update:
Country: Vietnam
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, Southeast
Persecution Rank:25 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:Son La, Lai Chau, and Lao Cai provinces, Song Ma, Dien Bien, Phong Tho, and Than Uyen districts.
(Source: Peoples of Vietnam, 1998)
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Ethnolinguistic Map:University of Texas or other map
Linguistic Map:Ethnologue language map
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Lao
People Name General: Lao
Alternate People Names:
Eastern ThaiLào
Lao BocLao Noi
Lao WiangLao-Lu
Lao-NoiLaotian Tai
Laotian ThaiLum Lao
Phou LaoRong Kong
Tai LaoTs'un Lao
ROP3 Code: 105643
Joshua Project People ID: 12989
Indigenous: No
Population in Country: 18,000
Population all Countries: 3,907,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster: Lao
People Name General: Lao
Ethnic Code: MSY49b
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Lao
Language Code (ISO): lao    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religions:
Buddhism57.60 % 
Christianity3.40 %(Evangelical: 0.03 %)
Ethnic Religions35.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious4.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent0.00 %
Protestant0.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic0.00 %
(Evangelicals distributed across Christianity segments)
Progress Indicators [5]
Progress Scale[6]   Few evangelicals and few who claim to be Christians. Little, if any, history of Christianity.
Least-Reached: Yes
GSEC Status:Level 1   Less than 2% Evangelical. Some evangelical resources available, but no active church planting within past 2 years
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: 1906-1967
New Testament:
Complete Bible: 1932-2012
Possible Bible Sources: Forum of Bible Agencies
 World Bible Finder
 World Christian Resource Directory
 Gospel Go
Ministry Resources [7]
Audio RecordingsMegaVoice Audio Bible and Stories
Audio RecordingsAudio Bible teaching
Audio RecordingsOnline New Testament
Audio RecordingsStory of Jesus audio
Film / VideoGod's Story video
Film / VideoJesus Film: view in Lao
Film / VideoMagdalena video
Film / VideoMy Last Day video, anime
Film / VideoStory of Jesus for Children
Film / VideoWorld Christian Videos
GeneralBible for Children
GeneralBiblical answers to your questions
GeneralFour Spiritual Laws
GeneralGospel resources links
GeneralZume Resources
GeneralZume Training
Text / Printed MatterBible: Lao
Text / Printed MatterLiteracy primer for Lao
Text / Printed MatterTools for faith conversations
Text / Printed MatterTopical Scripture booklets and Bible stu ...
Ministry Activity
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Data Notes
Data Sources

Lao in Vietnam

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Lao     Asia, Southeast    
      Lao Vietnam    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Lao in Vietnam          
      Religion Language  
      Buddhism     Lao  
    All Religions                              

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