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Laos Mission Initiative
Even in the face of great challenges, the churches in Laos are growing at a steady rate. Led by 69 committed pastors and lay leaders, the mission has a well-organized national council, or governing structure, which effectively coordinates and administers the mission. The Laos Mission Initiative hopes to be officially registered with the government and develop in all 17 Laotian provinces by 2020, and establish 100 churches and other faith communities by 2017. The mission currently has a significant presence in eight provinces and has 48 churches and 24 faith communities.
The mission focuses on congregational development, economic development, educational ministries, and leadership development. This includes training for church planters and equipping leaders and pastors for effective leadership in spiritual development and church administration, and rural and community leadership. Leadership development also includes providing scholarships to young people to acquire secondary, vocational, or college education in various fields of study. Bishop Scott J. Jones of the Great Plains Episcopal Area provides episcopal oversight for the mission.
The biggest challenge facing the mission initiative is registration with the government. Currently, the church is not legally registered despite several attempts to do this. Ministries are difficult to develop in villages and towns without permission from local authorities. The three major limitations for all Christians are open evangelism, church building, and raising funds from foreign sources. There are instances in which Christian leaders are incarcerated due to evangelization and Christians are asked to renounce their faith.
In the absence of a United Methodist presence, the first missionaries sent in 2005 were critical in cultivating local leadership and developing new churches and ministries. They played multiple roles in Laos such as preacher, teacher, church planter, advocate, evangelist, and organizer.
In Mission Together Partnerships
The In Mission Together coordinator provides training for U.S. churches to develop healthy partnerships as they move from short-term ministry to long-term relationships that build the capacity of the church in Laos. The coordinator also connects the church in the United States with ministry in Laos and assists with communication between the two. The In Mission Together coordinator for Laos is Joel Rabb (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For more information or to become involved please contact Myungim Kim, regional executive for Laos (email@example.com), or you can give to the Laos Mission Initiative, Advance #14927A.