Courtesy of Rev. Kevin Mouanoutoua
Laos is a land locked country that was locked out any sea access. Laos is bordering with 5 other neighbor countries; in the north Laos is bordered by China, Vietnam in the East, Cambodia in the south, Thailand, and Burma in the west. Religions in Laos were unrest just like Laos’ history and its political. Laotians are predominant in Buddhism influence as it the mono religion of Laos for centuries since 1553 when King Chao Fa Gnum inherited Buddhism from Cambodia to Laos and made it the official religion of Laos. Christianity also was locked out from the great mission of Christ.
During the period of Protestant movement in Asia, Laos was a state of Siam protectorate region. Lang Xang Monarch was divided in to three kingdoms, Louan Prabang, Vieng Chan and Champasak. In 1828, King Anou Vong of Vienchan rose up to resist Siam protectorate state. He raged war with Siam and failed. He captured and sent to Bangkok and was persecuted in that same very year missionaries arrived in 1828. According to Chao Noi Xieng Khouang, Hmong the unsearchable hill tribe migrated from Southern provinces of China to Laos during this transitional of time.
The continuous residence of missionaries in Thailand dates from 1833. After 18 years, 22 missionaries had failed to make one convert; however, they brought modern scientific knowledge and western medicine to the country. In 1835, American missionaries were able to reach King Mongkut by set up the first printing press using the Thai alphabet.
King Mongkut learned English from his American missionary friends who was also introduced him to Christianity. However, he could not accept Divine Revelation or Redemption of Sin, only pure human reason. He is quoted as saying, “What you teach them to do is admirable, but what you teach them to believe is foolish.” Still, he saw no harm in the Christian faith and support Christian Missionary to its foundation in Thailand in the later part of the 19th century.
On June 3, 1861 the Protestant denomination came together under the leadership of W.G. Greenstock. The protestant community missionaries approached King Rama IV and ask the king’s permission to establish Christian church for Worship. King Rama IV granted acreage of land to the Protestant to worship build a place of worship on January 26, 1861.
Christianity in Thailand, Siam was primarily rooted by the Presbyterian missionary. The first Christian Church was build by the Presbyterian Church. As the Presbyterian rooted its foundation in Siam, The Swiss Brethren moved its Head quarter to Nakhone Prathom, and started its mission Eastward to Laos.
Christianity was brought to Laos as early as the 1930, but made little progress until the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) sent the Reverend Ted Andrianoff to Xieng Khouang, Laos in 1948. It wasn’t until the spring of 1950 that he was able to lead the first Hmong to Christ.
The Lao Evangelical Church grew out of the work of Swedish Protestant 1890, followed by Swiss Brethren in 1902 and Christian and Missionary Alliance missionaries’ in 1928. The missionaries worked in different parts of the country. In a Mutual mission, Vaughan was server as neutral site for all missionaries. The Swiss brethren Missionary was served from KhamMouang toward Savannakhet and further south. Christian Missionary Alliance carried its mission from Kham Mouang and north forth. Together missionaries from both denominations came together and adopted a constitution to establish the LEC in 1953.
Initially, The Swiss Brethren was who first sent missionaries to Savannakhet Laos. Missionaries after missions had failed to impact in Laos until the profound conversion of two former monks to Christianity. The vest of Christianity rested on the conversion of two cousins Nai Sid and Nai Koung were converted to Christian Faith. After Nai Sith and Nai Koun convert their faith from Bhuddism to Christianity, they also changed their names; Nai Koung changed his name to Kounthapanya, and Nai Sith was named Sithideth. Christian genealogy in Laos can be traced to the two men who were the founder of Christian Churches in Laos.
In the spring of 1950 when Boua Ya Thao a prestige Shaman was convert to Christian by the leadership of Andrianoff. He led a group of Hmong to Christ, and soon thousands of Hmong came to Christ.
Following the convert of Boua Ya Thao, Hmong were converted to Christ from one village after another. Hmong Christians were in flux its number, and soon Hmong Christian reached 1,000. Ruth and Ted Andrianoff asked Ed Rolfe, Christian Missionary Alliance’s Laos Field Mission Chairman for help. CMA field Mission of Laos contacted Swiss Brethren in Savannakhet and wanted a Lao Pastor who speaks Lao to help in Xieng Khouang, Laos. Saly Kounthapanya was the man who sent to help with the converting thousands of Hmong in Xieng Khouang. Pastor Saly Kounthapanya helped Ted Andrianoff and Ed Rolfe to establish Lao Bible Institute in Xieng Khouang in January 1957, and when Lao Evangelical Church was formed in March 9, 1957, He was elected as the first president of Lao Evangelical Church Head Quarter in Xieng Khouang, Laos.
The following people are those who served the presidency of LEC in Laos.
1. Saly Kounthapanya 1957-1960 Xieng Khouang
2. Saly Kounthaphanya1961-1963, Vientiane Laos.
3. Xeng Pao Thao 1963-1965
4. Xu xou Thao 1965-1969
5. Nhia Lo Xiong 1969-1971
6. Saly Kounthapanya 1971-1973
7. Xeng Pao Thao 1973-1975.
The new chapter of Lao Evangelical Church reborn in September 1979 when most of the trained pastors of Lao Evangelical joined Christian Missionary Alliance and formed Hmong CMA District.
In August 1973 CMA and LEC signed the last contract, stipulated that CMA is the mission and LEC is the church. This contract expired in July 1978.
Hmong Christian migrated to America as refugee from Laos, though they speak little or no English, but that did not prevent them to worship Jesus Christ. Orange County, California became the most density of Indochinese refugees where Hmong Christian gathered their Worship at General Baptist Church in Santa Ana, California.
In the August 1978, Wayne Persons, a missionary to Laos where most Hmong knew him as (Rev. Paaj Tsaab), came to Santa Ana, and later visited Hmong churches throughout California. He condemned the way Hmong worship, and pointed out the most important issue that Hmong cannot worship the way Hmong Churches worship in America. He explained that an organization in America must have By-Law and Article of Corporation. Hmong churches operated illegally in America, and CMA hold accountable for Hmong Christian Action in America, due to CMA trained all Hmong Pastors. He suggested that in order for Hmong to worship in America legally Hmong needs to form By-Law, and file Article of Corporation with American government.
Wayne Persons arrange a seminar in Castaic, California to guide Hmong to worship legally in America. As the seminar came to a conclude, Wayne Persons gave Hmong pastor automaton, that if Hmong wanted to worship in America, Hmong pastors must obtain license to lead worship in America, and CMA can issue pastoral license to all Hmong pastors who went through Lao Evangelical Pastoral training Institution in Vientiane, Laos. It created a chaos atmosphere for Hmong Christian in America, most Hmong pastors joined CMA and formed Hmong Christian Missionary Alliance District. With the leadership of Rev Wang Yee Her, Rev. Wang Lo Lee, Rev Mouachou Mouanoutoua, they formed Lao Evangelical Church in America in September 1979 when most Hmong pastor left Lao Evangelical Church.
The following people are those who served the Presidency of LEC in USA.
1. Dr. Mouachou Mouanoutoua -1980-1982
2. Rev. Wang Lo Lee – 1982-1984
3. Rev. Wang Lo Lee – 1984-1986
4. Dr. Nha True Mouanoutoua -1986-1988
5. Dr. Mouachou Mouanoutoua – 1988-1990
6. Dr. James Nao Kee Moua – 1990-1992
7. Dr. James Nao Kee Moua – 1992-1994
8. Dr. Nha True Mouanoutoua – 1994-1996
9. Dr. Nha True Mouanoutoua – 1996-1998
10. Dr. Nha True Mouanoutoua – 1998-2000
11. Rev. Youa Bee Lee 2000-2002
12. Dr. James Nao Kee Moua -2002-2004
13. Rev. Se Yang – 2004-2006
14. Rev. Se Yang – 2006-2008
15. Dr. Lee Hai – 2008-2010
16. Rev. Xai Shoua Xiong- 2010-2012
17. Rev. Se Yang- 2012-2014
18. Rev. Kevin Mouanoutoua – 2014-2016
19. Rev. Kevin Mouanoutoua – 2017-2018
20. Rev. Se Yang – 2019-2020
21. Pastor Paul Lo – 2020-2022