Feature

The Movement Continues

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“Recently two men from a Phoo Theng village came to ask if I would come to their village and show them how they could cease their worship of evil spirits and accept Christ as their Saviour,” wrote Rev. Ted Andrianoff in a prayer letter to Alliance headquarters in 1950.

The movement toward Christ among a group of small settlements in Laos began in April of that year when Lao Kheng, a Laotian Bible school student, started witnessing in the Xieng Khouang district. Andrianoff and his wife, Ruth, took the young man to more-distant villages in their Jeep, and as a result of Lao’s teaching, around 1,700 members of the Meo people group became Christians. The first was “Phaw See,” a sorcerer who gave his heart to Christ after he saw Lao Kheng pray to a God who had the power to banish evil spirits. By the end of the year, the number of conversions had grown to 2,500 villagers, most of them from the Hmong.

It had been more than 10 years since the first missionary couple, Rev. J. Walton and Naomi Whipple, had been sent to the area and began to explain the story of Jesus through pictures. However, the people were unresponsive, and the Whipples were reassigned as combat grew close during World War II. Andianoff reported that many people told him they remembered the stories the Whipples had told, which had planted a seed in their hearts.

Also instrumental in spreading the gospel was Touby Lyfoung, recognized by both the French colonial and the Laotian governments as the leader of the Hmong. Though he was not known to have made a public confession of faith in Christ, he studied the Bible twice a week with one of the missionaries and was enthusiastic about spreading the gospel. After he invited Andrianoff to his office for an interview, Touby sent an edict to the Hmong, telling them that he would not discourage anyone who wanted to become a Christian. He then invited the missionary into his home to teach, and Touby’s several wives and children believed in the Lord. Touby’s first wife was in the first group of Hmong to be baptized and was known for her devotion to Christ.

The Lao government forbade the use of the written Hmong language, making Scripture translation and discipleship materials difficult to obtain. The movement slowed and Communist persecution forced the church underground, but God was not finished working among His people. In the mid-1970s war in Laos drove many Hmong to the United States; about one third of those who relocated identify themselves as Christians and most of those are affiliated with The Alliance. Today, the Hmong church is the largest ethnic district in the U.S. C&MA, with more than 80 churches and 30,000 inclusive members.

—C&MA National Archives, from material published in Hmong Ethnohistory: An Historical Study of Hmong Culture and Its Implications for Ministry, a doctoral dissertation by Jack Davidson, 1993.

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