|Mushrooms of Faith Flourish in Laos|
New York, NY, Oct. 10, 2008--Mushrooms for the consumer market are providing an economic base for some of the expanding numbers of United Methodist congregations in Laos.
Mushrooms of faith provide incomes for the families of laity and clergy; growers then contribute a tithe to their congregations. The plantings for startup are supplied by mission personnel of the General Board of Global Ministries.
"It is wonderful to see," said the Rev. Jong Soon Kim, assistant general secretary for Evangelization and Church Growth, Global Ministries. "Churches are becoming stronger, and some regional government officials see what we are doing as a significant means of local economic empowerment."
Laos is part of the Southeast Asia Mission of Global Ministries and one of the newest mission initiatives of The United Methodist Church. The initiative started in 2005, and there are now 77 United Methodist congregations.
A majority of the churches are in the city of Vientiane, the capital city, and in Luang Pragang Province, although United Methodist congregations exist in 10 of the country's 16 provinces.
Laos is an elongated country wedged between China, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. It is about the size of Utah and has a population of six million distributed among numerous ethnic groups, the largest of which are Lao (55 percent), Khmou (11 percent) and Hmong (eight percent).
Congregational development and community development go hand in hand in Laos. Along with mushroom cultivation, community improvement activities include a well-digging project to provide clean water.
The church also finances education for children. In Laos, it costs about $11.50 per year to send a youngster to school.
A description of the mushroom ministry in Laos was included in a program report prepared for directors of the General Board of Global Ministries meeting in Stamford, Connecticut, October 13-17.
United Methodists around the world can assist their brothers and sisters in Laos to develop new congregations, extend the mushroom project, and conduct other community ministries by supporting the Laos Initiative.
Gifts can be sent by credit card through The Advance, Laos #00239A, either online at the link provided or by calling 888-252-6174. Checks payable to "ADVANCE GCFA" may be sent to: Advance GCFA, P.O. Box 9068, GPO, New York, NY 10087-9068. Gifts may also be placed in the offering plate of any United Methodist church. Be sure to write "The Advance, Laos #00239A" on the memo line of your check. One hundred percent of all contributions through The Advance go to the ministry designated.
Date posted: Oct 10, 2008