Laotian United Methodists Seek to
Educate Leaders for Tomorrow
New York, NY, January 3, 2007—The education of pastors and lay leaders is a pressing need in the emerging United Methodist Church in Laos.
At the end of 2006, none of the 55 lay preachers and local pastors had even high school diplomas. But prospects for education are looking better.
The Laotian church has arranged for six students to enroll in Phayuao Bible College in northern Thailand in 2007. The hope is that the two women and four men will become pivotal leaders for the future.
Two of the students are children of Tong Pao Thao, one of the first United Methodist lay pastors in Laos.
There is, of course, the issue of paying the college tuitions, quite reasonable by western standards but challenging in southeast Asia. The tuition cost is $600 per year, or $3,600 for all six students.
“I am praying that we can someday soon have our own Bible college in Laos,” said the Rev. Sam Dixon, head of the evangelization and church growth unit of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries. “In the meantime, we are working with the Laotian church to find suitable educational venues for future pastors and lay leaders. Only 73 per cent of our lay preachers have been through grade school.”
Dixon said he knew in his heart that there are six United Methodist congregations or individuals in the United States or Western Europe that can and will come up with $600 to sponsor one of the Laotian students at Phayuao Bible College. Phayuao is an institution of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship International.
The United Methodist Church in Laos has 60 congregations and is growing steadily. Several new church buildings are in process. While evangelism and education are high on the priority, the mission also provides seed to allow families to grow food and cares for orphaned children. The Minnesota Annual Conference is a strong mission partner.
The Laos Mission Initiative is a network of United Methodist spiritual and financial support for the Laotian ministry, including the work of Rev. T. Vang and his wife, J. Vang, who are from Minnesota.
Date posted: Jan 03, 2007