Bibles for the Khmu

Photo: Khmu women. Thomas Schoch, Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Khmu women. Thomas Schoch, Wikimedia Commons

Background

The Khmu are an ethnic minority located in Burma, China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos.  The Khmu were the original inhabitants of northern Laos before an influx of Thai and Lao ethnicities migrated into the area centuries earlier, forcing the Khmu from the lowlands to the higher hill country. Currently, the majority of Khmu still reside in Laos where they make up 10% of the population (700,000 people) and are the largest minority people group in Laos.[1] In some northern provinces of Laos, they make up nearly 80% of the population.[2]

Many Khmu live in remote mountainous villages where running water and electricity have not yet been established.  Even getting simple items like writing paper and batteries can be difficult.  The Khmu are considered to be the poorest and the least educated people in Laos.  They are often viewed as the lowest and most backward ethnicity by the rest of Lao society.  Part of this view is derived from the Khmu’s past association with the American military and anti-communist forces during the 1960’s and 1970’s war in Vietnam and Laos. When the communist state was established following the war in Laos, a broad distinction was made between the heroes (vilasom) and the enemies (satu) of the revolution, with the Khmu falling into the latter category.[3] This distinction still effects how the government and local authorities view and treat the Khmu and other ethnic hill tribes like the Hmong and Lahu.

The Khmu Come to Christ

A number of years ago, the Khmu in Laos began coming to Christ in large numbers through a Christian radio program broadcast into Laos by the Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC).  The Khmu were touched by what they heard, that someone loved and cared for them where they were at, and did not speak condescendingly to them as if they were simple jungle people.  The gospel message and the love of Christ deeply touched these people as many thousands came to faith in Jesus Christ.  There are now an estimated 60,000 Khmu Christians in Laos today.   As this revival in the Khmu people continues, many Khmu continue to come to Christ and grow in their faith through the FEBC radio broadcasts and through the follow up and discipleship by Khmu pastors and leaders.  One of the great stories now coming from Laos is that Khmu Christians are the ones bringing the gospel to other ethnic minorities.  In addition to the Khmu reaching out, these ethnic minorities are also approaching the Khmu asking to know about Christ and are seeking prayer!  They see what the Khmu have in Christ and would like that for their own lives.

Laos is a closed communist country, and Christians in Laos face persecution from the governing authorities, in addition to the harassment they may face for their ethnicity.  Khmu Christians also face harassment from village leaders and from family members who try and pressure the believers to renounce their faith. In short, being a Christian in Laos brings about tremendous pressure and persecution from all sides, especially if the Christian is from an ethnic minority group.

The Bible is one of the strongest anchors for the Christian, and this is especially true for the Khmu believers in restricted countries.  The Word of God provides a strong anchor for the truths of God’s character, the kingdom of God, and living according to the Christian Way. Getting Bibles or theological training material for these tens of thousands of Christians – both the Khmu Christians and the other ethnicities who come to Christ though the Khmu – is nearly impossible unless it is brought in from the outside by westerners.  The Khmu do not yet have a Bible translation in their own language, so they must read God’s Word in the lingua franca of the region(it is said that the Khmu are one of the oldest and largest Christian communities in Asia without their own translation of the Bible).  Biblia Global works to fund the printing of these Bibles to support the Khmu revival through our Bibles for Asia program, and works to get the Bibles to the Khmu through the Troas ProjectOne Bible for the Khmu can be purchased for $7 and can bring immeasurable growth and encouragement to these dear Christians who have yet to receive their first Bible*.

  • Pray for the ongoing Khmu revival, that God’s Spirit would continue to be poured out on the Khmu and surrounding minority people groups. 
  • Pray for wisdom, patience, and understanding of the leaders of the Khmu church in Laos as they deal with many issues they are facing -- whether they are related to family needs, church members, non-believers, or local authorities. 
  • Pray for the safety and strength of teams from Biblia Global and other partners who carry Bibles into restricted nations for the Khmu. 

Notes:

[1] Evrard, Olivier, "Interethnic systems and localized identities: The Khmu subgroups (tmoy) in North-West Laos", in Social Dynamics in the Highlands of Southeast Asia, Ed. Francois Robinne and Mandy Sadan (Brill, Netherlands, 2007), 129.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 156.


*Your gift to Biblia Global and our Bibles for Asia Project will pay for the printing of Bibles to our Asian brothers and sisters in the hardest to reach places of the globe. Unfortunately we cannot preference gifts to go to an individual people group's Bible printing; we instead pool the money given to the Bibles for Asia Project to fund the next Bible printing for Asian tribes in greatest need of Bibles.  Printing costs are usually $3 - $8 per Bible and transportation cost are roughly $1 per Bible.